Finance

Doing An Energy Comparison When You’re In Debt

Doing An Energy Comparison When You're In Debt
Posted by Adam

Are you paying so much to your energy provider that you’re falling behind on your payments? Many people compare energy prices with different providers to see what a better option might be and switch suppliers. Since there are no new installations required for wires or pipes to your home, all it takes is a few simple website visits or phone calls to arrange a switch to a different supplier. The issue gets a little more complicated when it comes to switching suppliers while you’re in debt to your current energy company. An energy comparison is even harder if you’re on a prepayment plan to pay off your debt.

This still doesn’t mean you can’t switch companies at all. It might be harder, but there are ways around these difficulties. Here are some tips on comparing providers when your credit record with energy companies isn’t the best.

Figure Out How Long you Have Owed the Money First

If you have owed money to your energy company for under 28 days, you can change suppliers and the money you owe will be transferred to the new supplier. This helps people who couldn’t pay their most recent bill, but have otherwise had a good track record. If energy prices have dropped and your tariff is the same, you may find yourself suddenly paying much more than you need to – taking advantage of this timeframe quickly can pay off.

Prepayment Tariff Debt can Sometimes be Switched

Those on a prepayment meter can switch suppliers and transfer up to £500 of debt without any trouble. You can’t switch back to a credit meter while you are in debt, but once the debt is paid off, you can ask for a cheaper tariff. This means it can be worth it to find a company with a cheaper tariff and switch to their prepayment tariff (there is generally only one fixed option for prepayment meter customers’ tariffs, unlike credit meters), pay off your debt, and then request to have your meter changed to a credit meter.

Plan to Change to a Supplier with Free Credit Meter Installation

Are you on a prepayment meter and looking to change to a credit meter? Once your debt is paid off, you can call up your supplier and ask if they will change you to a credit meter without charging a fee. If they say they have to charge you the fee, tell them you are going to switch suppliers if you cannot get a credit meter installed for free. Certain suppliers such as E.ON and British Gas will install credit meters for free, so you can transfer your prepayment debt to one of these suppliers in anticipation, then wait until the debt is paid off.

Switching Credit Meters While in Debt is Harder

If you owe money to an energy company and are on a credit meter, it will be harder to switch to another energy company. You can be debt-blocked, which means you are prevented from changing companies. The easiest thing to do is put as much money as possible into repaying the debt quickly or arrange a payment plan with your supplier. Some suppliers are willing to negotiate lower rates or work out payment plans. Doing an energy comparison can probably wait until your debts are paid off, though certain suppliers will allow you to switch if you’re in debt.

Stay in Touch with the Energy Company if you are in Debt

Although it’s tempting to ignore your energy company if you’re already in debt, this is the last thing you’ll want to do. The company may get worried and forcibly install a new prepayment meter instead of your existing credit meter. They can legally do this, and can even get a warrant if you don’t let them in, then charge you for the warrant. If you simply get in touch to arrange a payment plan, you can avoid having a prepayment meter put in and getting switched to a higher tariff as a result.

Switching energy companies is not easy if you’re already in debt, but you should know your rights. Plan ahead and you can switch as soon as you’re out of debt or even switch while you’re still in debt in order to have extra money available to pay off your bills. The process of switching energy suppliers is relatively simple.