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How to handle problems with your gas and electricity

If you are having problems with your gas or electricity, there are ways to get help. Here is what you need to know about handling problems with your energy service.

Serviceman checking an energy meter

Last updated: 15 December 2020

How to complain to your supplier

If you are unhappy with your energy service, you can complain to your supplier:

  1. Write to them, either by letter or email. Keep records of any communication you have with your supplier.

  2. Wait for a response. Your supplier may ask to visit you to take a meter reading, or they may write to you to resolve your complaint.

  3. Go to Citizens Advice. You can get free advice from the Citizens Advice website which could help with your complaint.

  4. Speak to Ofgem. If you are unhappy with the response you get from your supplier, you can speak to the energy regulator Ofgem after 8 weeks.

Visit the Ofgem website for more information

How to get a refund

You may be able to get money back from your energy company if:

  • Your account is in credit

  • You have switched and your old supplier owes you money

  • You have been overcharged

Contact your energy company or your old supplier and give them your account number, which can be found on a bill, and explain why you think you are owed money. You should also give them an up to date meter reading.

If your account is in credit, your energy supplier may encourage you to leave the money in your account, but the decision is up to you and you can ask for a full refund.

Think about reducing your direct debit payments to prevent this happening again, but make sure you pay enough to cover the cost of your gas and electricity.

If your supplier does not give you the money you are owed, you can contact the Energy Ombudsman to make a complaint.

What to do in a power cut

There are several steps you can take to restore your power and stay safe while you are without electricity:

  • Check your fuse box has not tripped

  • Check your prepayment meter has credit

  • Check with your neighbours

  • Contact your local distribution company

  • Make sure you have a torch with you

  • Turn off electrical appliances and lights

You can also call UK Power Networks free of charge on 105 to report the problem.

Can you get compensation?

Yes, if you are without power for over 24 hours you may be able to claim up to £700.

You can claim compensation for a power cut if:

  • The power cut is the fault of your energy supplier

  • The outage was planned and you did not get at least two days' notice

You should contact your electricity distributor and make your claim within three months of your power being reconnected.

The energy regulator Ofgem has more information about your right to compensation if you experience a power cut.

What if you have a gas leak?

If you smell gas at home, you need to act quickly to keep yourself safe:

  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service: You can contact the National Grid service 24 hours a day on 0800 111 999. They can arrange for a Gas Safe engineer to visit your home to fix any problems, and explain what else you should do.

  • Turn off your gas: If your home has a gas control valve, switch this off. It can usually be found next to your gas meter, but the National Gas Emergency Service can help you find it if you are having trouble.

  • Open your windows and doors: This helps to ventilate your home and may help with symptoms of nausea or dizziness.

  • Do not use electrical switches: Avoid switching on any lights or appliances, and do not light any flames.

  • Tell your neighbours: This lets them take precautions to stay safe, but can also help you assess the extent of the problem.

You can read more about gas safety on the National Grid website

How to find your energy supplier

If you have just moved into your home, ask the person who lived there last or your landlord for the name of your gas and electricity supplier.

You can call the Meter Number Helpline on 0870 608 1524 to find your gas supplier. Calls cost 7p a minute, and they can also tell you your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN), which lets you identify your gas meter.

If you need to find out who supplies your electricity, you should contact your local distribution company:

RegionContact number
North Scotland0800 300 999
Central and South Scotland0800 092 9290
North East England0800 668 877
North West England0800 195 4141
Yorkshire0800 375 675
Merseyside, Cheshire, North Shropshire & North Wales0800 001 5400
Eastern England & South East England0845 6015 467
Southern England0800 072 7282
South West England, South Wales, West & East Midlands0800 6783 105
London0800 028 0247
Northern Ireland0345 764 3643

What if you cannot pay your bill?

If you are having problems paying your gas or electricity bills, you should contact your supplier to find out what you owe and agree a way to pay them back.

They must offer you other options before cutting off your energy supply, like:

  • A plan to pay back any debts in fixed lump sums

  • Different payment options, like direct debit or a prepayment meter

  • A cheaper tariff

If you are still struggling, there are other things you can do to get help with your energy bills:

Benefits and grants

If you claim benefits, you may be able to access schemes and grants that can help you pay your energy bills. GOV.UK can help you find out what benefits you can claim.

You may be able to get help from:

  • Fuel Direct: This lets you use your benefits payments to pay your energy bills. You can use Universal Credit, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, or Pension Credit. Contact Jobcentre Plus for more details.

  • Warm Home Discount: You could get up to £140 off your electricity bill if you get Pension Credit or if you are on a low income. You can check if you can get help with your energy supplier, or by going to the GOV.UK website.

  • Winter Fuel Payment: An annual one off payment helps you pay for heating in the winter. Most people aged 63 or over can get help with winter fuel, and you could get between £100 and £300 depending on your age and circumstances.

  • Cold Weather Payments: This is a one off payment to help you pay for extra heating when it is very cold. You may have a right to help if you already get Pension Credit, Income Support, or Jobseeker's Allowance. The GOV.UK website has more details.

British GasEDF, and E.ON also offer grants to help you pay your energy bills. You do not have to be a customer, so anyone can apply.

Your supplier may also offer grants, so call them to discuss your options.

What is the Priority Services Register?

Debt advice

Citizens Advice can give you free, independent advice on how to deal with debt.

National Debtline also offers free advice over the phone if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. You can call them on 0808 808 4000.

Efficient energy

You may be able to get help from the Government, your energy supplier or your local council to make your home more energy efficient and save on your energy bills.

Read our guide to saving money on your gas and electricity for more information on making your home more energy efficient.