Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

The five suppliers that can force-fit energy prepayment meters in your home

The five suppliers that can force-fit energy prepayment meters in your home
Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Another two energy giants have been given permission by the regulator to install prepayment meters without the household's permission.

E.ON and Tru Energy have been given the green light to restart installing pay-as-you-go (PAYG) meters in certain homes after meeting regulator Ofgem’s “strict criteria”.

The latest two join the three suppliers already given permission in January to force-fit the meters:

  • EDF
  • Octopus
  • Scottish Power


Installing prepayment meters without permission is called ‘Involuntary PPM’ in an energy supplier’s licence. It means that a prepayment meter can be installed with a warrant, or a smart meter switched to prepayment meter mode, to get back debt owed to them without permission from the customer.

All energy companies signed a voluntary code of practice last year after evidence emerged of bad behaviour by suppliers that severely affected financially struggling and vulnerable billpayers.

The code later became part of suppliers’ licence conditions, with firms warned to “play by the rules” when it comes to involuntary installations in a last resort scenario. A number of checks and steps need to be addressed before installation.

Suppliers must also provide regular monitoring data to Ofgem, so that “concerning trends” on involuntary prepayment meter practices can be identified early.

Ofgem also said that if suppliers wrongly install a prepayment meter in a property occupied by someone in its “do not install” category, they would be expected to reinstate a credit meter within 24 hours and pay the customer compensation.

‘We won’t hesitate to take action’

An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Protecting consumers is our number one priority. We’ve made clear that suppliers must exhaust all other options before considering forced installation of a prepayment meter, and consumers can help themselves by reaching out to their supplier as soon as possible if they think they won’t be able to pay their bill, so payment options can be discussed. Our rules on when, and how, a prepayment meter can be installed are clear, and we won’t hesitate to take action if suppliers act irresponsibly.

“We will continue to work closely with consumer groups and suppliers to make sure households understand their rights when it comes to prepayment meters, and will regularly review our rules to make sure they are working to protect the most vulnerable. We would also strongly encourage consumers to make sure their personal details and circumstances are up to date with their supplier, so they can be taken into consideration if or when payment problems arise.”

Related: Tighter rules for prepayment meter installations: 10 things suppliers can and can’t do now