Keeping warm in the home is particularly important for the elderly and the very young.
If you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter your energy supplier might agree to give you temporary credit if you’ve run out of gas or electricity.
Tell them about your situation, including your income and anyone you look after, so they know why you need temporary credit. You’ll need to pay this credit back next time you top up.
Your supplier could charge you a fee if they have to come to your home to add temporary credit. They won’t charge you if they can do it remotely or if it’s their fault, for example if a fault in your meter meant you couldn’t top up.
Tell your supplier if you need extra support: your supplier has to treat you fairly and take your situation into account. Make sure they know about anything that could make it harder for you to pay. For example, tell them if you are disabled, have a long-term illness, are over state pension age, have young children living with you, have financial problems, for example if you are behind on rent.
Also ask whether you can be put on your supplier’s priority services register.
If you keep running out of credit you’ll build up extra debt to your supplier, for example by using emergency credit. Next time you top up you’ll pay this back straight away.
If it feels like you’re running out of credit too quickly, this extra debt could be the problem. Ask your supplier to let you pay it off weekly rather than in one go.
Try to top up with more money than usual after running out of credit. This will stop your credit from running out too quickly because of the extra debt.
There are four separate charges that can build up when you run out of credit. Next time you top up, you could have to pay back: emergency credit – £5 to £10 which you get automatically after credit runs out, before you are cut off; friendly credit – you might get this if your credit runs out overnight or on a Sunday, so that you are not cut off till the next morning (not everyone gets this – it depends on your supplier and meter); standing charges – your daily charge for gas or electricity, which continues to build up if you run out of credit; debt repayments – if you are paying back debt each day or week this continues to build up while they’re out of credit.
If you need support with debt issues don’t delay, seek assistance from Citizens Advice.