A Switch report has found that almost 50% of UK households are due a refund from their energy supplier.
The average amount owed is £142. And, more than a million people are owed £300 each from the energy suppliers who are sitting on £1.8million of consumer credit, figures show.
The refunds are linked to direct debit payments where people have overpaid on their energy usage.
Usually, this money is used to adjust their next bill.
As direct debit payments often stay the same through the year, customers often move into credit with their suppliers during warmer months when they’ve used less energy.
And, they usually get into debt with the supplier in winter when the heating and lights are used more.
Switch claims that the total owed to households is £1million higher than last April despite more people staying at home due to the pandemic.
Plus, around a quarter of energy bill customers in credit are owed more than £200.
That’s up from one in ten last year.
And, 535,000 households are due more than £500!
It can be useful to have credit on your account as it helps with managing your energy bill – especially if you’re not sent a bill every month.
However, it’s important to see how much credit you have after the bill in settled in case there’s a surplus.
Three in five bill payers have claimed that their energy supplier has never issued them credit automatically – so they could be missing out.
And, over a third of people in credit say their supplier has never reached out to review their payments.
When credit grows too much it’s a sign that the customer is paying too much each month.
Luckily, Ofgem, the energy watchdog is consulting on an auto-refund system which will automatically refund credit balances to direct debit customers, reports the Mirror.
This could be useful for customers as almost 50% say they don’t know how to claim back credit.
Unfortunately, four million households are also in debt to their supplier at the end of winter and owe £529million.
The average debt is £126.
Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch.com said suppliers should review customers’ direct debit payments more regularly.
“At a time when many people’s finances are stretched any windfall would be gratefully received,” she explained.
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“A growing credit balance can be a sign that a customer’s direct debit is too high – yet a third of those in credit say their supplier has never adjusted their payment.
“It’s clear that Ofgem’s proposal to introduce automatic rebates will benefit a huge number of consumers, particularly those who do not know how much credit they have, or do not know how to obtain a refund.
“Many people who have been affected financially by the pandemic may be looking for ways to save money, and it’s worth checking with your supplier to see if you are owed any money following your most recent bill being paid.
“It’s also important to provide regular meter readings to your energy supplier if you do not have a smart meter. This will make it easier for your supplier to see if you are using less energy than predicted, and they may reduce your direct debit payments.
“If you are out of contract with your supplier, you could also save yourself money by switching to a cheaper deal.”
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