How to switch energy supplier when in credit

Making an energy switch is an excellent way to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. It enables you to compare energy deals with your current plan and secure an even better rate. It’s easy to put a switch into motion and never give it another thought, but did you know that you might be owed money by your current energy supplier?

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Woman switching energy supplier when in credit

In this guide you'll find answers to questions including:

  • What is energy credit?

  • Is my energy account in credit?

  • What happens to credit when you switch energy supplier?

  • What if I switch energy supplier multiple times while in credit?

  • When should I look to refund energy credit?

  • Do energy companies have to refund credits?

  • How much energy credit am I owed?

  • Can I avoid building up credit?

  • How are my energy credits repaid?

What is energy credit?

Energy suppliers bill you for estimated energy use – if this estimation is higher than your actual consumption, you may find your account starts to accumulate credit. Alternatively, if you use more gas or electricity than estimated, your account will fall into debt. 

Is my energy account in credit?

Check your latest bill or log on to your online account to find out. If you’re on a fixed price energy plan on direct debit, you will be charged the same amount every month, regardless of actual use, until the next time your supplier reviews the monthly figure you’re paying. While this may seem too high in the summer and you start building up credit, you’ll find that you subsequently start eating into this credit once winter rolls around and your energy usage increases. If your electricity or gas bill is still in credit when you switch supplier or move home, you can claim this back as a refund.

Some suppliers will take a month’s payment at the very start of your energy switch, to provide you with a buffer against falling into energy debt before you even start to use your new plan.

If you use a prepayment meter then you will probably be in credit when you move to a new house or change supplier, unless you took great efforts to perfectly align your usage with your moving date. Any credit you have left on your meter will be clearly displayed, and you are also able to claim this back.

Can Ofgem do anything to help get credit back?

Not at the moment, but Ofgem is introducing new rules that will force energy suppliers to automatically refund customers any credit they might have on the anniversary of their contract beginning. Ofgem believes that suppliers are using the extra credit to fund unsustainable business practices by bolstering their coffers during the summer months, when energy payments coming in will be reduced. If these rules are approved, they will come into force from 2022. Until then, the current system of customers having to request their own refunds will continue.

Changing energy supplier when in credit

You can change energy supplier any time (though depending on your plan this may result in early exit fees) so it’s possible that you’re in credit the moment you switch. In fact, almost 50% of the UK is owed money by energy suppliers. 

Make sure that you give your supplier a final meter reading so they can accurately calculate your final bill. If you’re in energy credit at the point of the switch and your supplier has an up-to-date meter reading to work with, they should be able to refund your credit easily. 

What happens to credit when you switch energy supplier?

When you change energy supplier your credit will be considered your ‘closed account balance’ and should reflect the remaining credit in your final bill. If you have credit in your account, you can request a credit refund. 

What if I switch energy supplier multiple times while in credit?

If you have made several energy switches you may find you’ve built up credit with all your past suppliers, and you can make a claim with all of them. If you can’t remember who your energy supplier is, use our guide to help you find out

When should I look to refund energy credit?

You should start the process of a credit refund while closing your current energy account and switching supplier. Being in credit at any other time is generally not a negative thing, as it serves as useful savings for future months when your energy use may spike. This is likely the reasoning your provider will offer you if you request a refund and you’re not looking to switch provider. However, if you would prefer to have a few extra pennies in your bank account and not your energy account, you can claim it back at any time.

Do energy companies have to refund credits?

Yes, they do. Your leftover energy credit can be refunded no matter how much time has passed. The process will run more smoothly if you have your account details to hand, so keep your old bills safely stored in case you need to make future claims on your credit. Your old supplier will also be able to find your account details as long as you can provide the address they were providing energy for, so you don’t have to still be living in a residence to claim back on an energy bill in credit.

How much energy credit am I owed?

This will depend on your unique circumstances including house size, energy usage and how many suppliers you may be in credit with. According to Uswitch, 45% of the nation are eligible to claim over £100 in energy refunds. However, this research also found that a large number of customers find themselves in debt after increasing their energy usage over the winter months, so be careful about claiming back credit from your current supplier if you’ve no immediate plans to switch.

Can I avoid building up credit?

Make sure you keep your energy supplier updated with frequent meter readings. The more readings your supplier has, the better its understanding of your usage will be and therefore the more accurate your bills. If giving frequent meter readings is inconvenient for you, ask your supplier if you can have a smart meter fitted, which sends readings automatically and eliminates the need for you to take them manually.

How are my energy credits repaid?

Different suppliers will pay you in different ways: some will transfer the money to your account, others will send you a cheque. If you’re looking to prevent going into too much credit with your current supplier, you may be able to lower your direct debit payments temporarily, but it’s likely you’ll need to raise them again during the winter months.

If your supplier is paying back your energy credit by cheque and you recently moved, make sure you’ve provided your new address. 

What to do if your supplier refuses to refund your credit

If your supplier is refusing to refund your credit or you are experiencing unjustifiable delays on your repayment you can get in touch with Citizens Advice for next steps. If you are still unhappy with the outcome after going through your supplier’s official complaints process, you can also approach the Energy Ombudsman for free. They will pursue the issue on your behalf. If the resolution is made in your favour, you can expect your energy credit payment to arrive within 28 days.

Last updated: 17 March 2021