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Energy companies sitting on £1.5bn from overpaid bills

2nd December 2014 Print

New research reveals that 61% of Brits are overpaying their gas and electricity bills, by £96 on average, which collectively means that energy companies are banking an extra £1.5bn of their customers’ money.

The research commissioned by also found that:

Pensioners (aged 65 plus) are the most likely to be in credit (72%), while customers aged 25 to 34 were least likely to carry a credit balance on their energy bills (48%);   

15% of customers surveyed had paid their energy supplier over £100 more than they needed to;

Only 22% said that their energy supplier had refunded the overpayment without being asked to, 15% said they had asked for a refund, while 46% said that they prefer to leave their account in credit hoping it will sort itself out over time.

Commenting on the research, Jeremy Cryer from said: “Most energy suppliers offer customers discounts for settling their bills by direct debit.  Bills are calculated following an estimate of your annual consumption, which is then usually charged monthly in 12 equal payments.   While direct debits can help with household budgeting by smoothing out seasonal variations in energy usage, if the estimated usage has been set too high, a sizeable surplus can quickly build up. 

“Gas and electricity companies usually review direct debit accounts twice a year to look at whether the payments customers have been making are sensible given how much energy they've used, and adjust monthly payments accordingly.  Where accounts are in credit, most companies have an amount over which they will give you an automatic refund.  For example, for British Gas to give an automatic credit refund you need to be £100 in credit while E.ON only requires a balance of £5 - provided they have received a meter reading in the last six months.   

“Energy companies are also obliged to refund overpayments whenever their customers request them to.  However, for them to consider your request you’ll need to provide an up-to-date meter reading. If the refund is withheld, the supplier must explain why and you can challenge the decision.”