You may be asked to:
Join a regular payment plan, your energy use will be estimated and you will pay this amount by equal instalments throughout the year. This can be a useful budgeting tool. Some suppliers offer a discount to customers who pay by direct debit, standing order, a fixed payment budget scheme or a flexible payments scheme.
Agree to have a prepayment meter. This means you pay for the energy before you use it. This is normally done with a token, key or card that you can buy or top up. This can be a useful budgeting tool, but is usually the most expensive way to pay for electricity.
Name a guarantor. The supplier will check if the guarantor’s record of energy payments is satisfactory and the guarantor will be legally responsible for paying your energy bills if you don’t pay.
Put down a deposit. The supplier must only request a ‘reasonable amount’ as a deposit. The maximum would be the two highest quarters of energy used (estimated if necessary).
Extra help for those who are vulnerable or on a low income. You may be classed as vulnerable if you are a pensioner, disabled, chronically ill, unable to look after your own welfare or living with someone who is unable to look after their own welfare.
Energy suppliers run priority services registers. They may offer priority reconnection after a power cut, taking regular readings if you can’t do it yourself, providing controls and adaptors free of charge to make meters and appliances easier to use, providing alternative facilities for cooking and heating if your energy supply is interrupted. You need to register for this with your supplier/s.
Around 16% of energy customers use prepayment meters and their use is increasing. This autumn, Citizens Advice will be campaigning to secure a better deal for prepayment energy customers. The aims of the campaign are:
Tell us about your experiences with prepaymeters so that we can build up evidence for the campaign. Contact your local CAB or call Peter Jackson at Citizens Advice on 03000 231119