Energy customers owed millions by suppliers56% of direct debit customers are in credit

01 November 2012

Energy customers owed millions by suppliers

More than half of households who pay their energy bills by direct debit believe they are in credit while energy companies benefit from £1bn of overpayment on bills, comparison website GoCompare has estimated.

In fact, our recent research revealed that 56% of Which? members paying their energy bills by direct debit are in credit – by an average of £161.

All suppliers say they aim for a zero balance after 12 months, but our investigation found that almost half of Which? members had large debits or credits – more than 10% of their annual bill – at the end of a year.

Find out how to keep your energy direct debit in check with our expert guide, and compare gas and electricity prices at Which? Switch to make sure you are on the cheapest deal available.

Energy suppliers compared

GoCompare surveyed 2,000 people, while we analysed 12 months' worth of energy bills from more than 100 Which? members and conducted an online survey of 2,210 members. We found that:

  • those who were in credit after a year were so by £161 on average
  • those who were in debit after a year were so by £92 on average
  • 56% of members said their direct debit had increased in the last 12 months
  • 59% of those who had their direct debit increased were already in credit

Only 13% of members in credit had tried to ask for a refund. But 50% of those who queried an increase got their direct debit reduced.

Paying your energy bill by direct debit

More than half of energy customers pay their bills by monthly direct debit, according to figures from the regulator Ofgem.

Usually lower energy use in summer is balanced out by greater energy use in winter. Read our guide to find out how your direct debit is set.

Gas and electricity companies must refund you a credit balance either automatically or on request. But energy companies decide when you will be automatically reimbursed. Eon automatically refunds customers’ credit balance at the annual review as long as you are at least £5 in credit. EDF energy only does so if you are more than £150 in credit. 

More on this…