Given that there’s quite a bit of news lately regarding energy price rises in the UK, it makes sense that more and more of us are paying closer attention to what our bills actually mean. For example, what does it mean to be ‘in debit’ on an energy bill?
Essentially, an account in debit is one that owes money to the energy supplier. This may mean, for example, that you’ve used more energy than you’ve already paid for. If you’re wondering what it means to be in debit, it’s that you have a balance to clear.
However, this does not have to be a big deal. In fact, it is quite common for energy bills to be in debit, especially towards the colder months. You are bound to use more energy on heating, cooking, and of course, lights, entertainment and otherwise.
Despite the price rises occurring across the board, there’s never any reason to have to worry about being in debit. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do.
What do I do if I am in debit?
If you are in debit, then you will need to pay back your supplier the amount of money that they are owed. This will be based on your existing tariff, and how much energy – for example – you may have used in the last billing period.
If you do find yourself in debit, don’t panic. If it’s higher than you expect, there are things you can do to lessen the burden. In the first instance, it’s crucial to call your supplier directly and to explain your situation to them.
In most cases, if you have paid on time in the past, energy suppliers will be willing to show leniency and set up a payment plan with you. You can pay the amount due back over time in a way that suits both parties. Or, you may be lucky enough to get a little extra time to pay your debit in full. What you must do, of course, is ensure you stick to this plan of action – and if you can’t, you must call your supplier as soon as possible.
The best thing to do is to communicate with your providers. Leaving a bill even longer unpaid will only make it bigger and more difficult to deal with. Many of us assume that because we are in financial difficulties, it is best to put off paying – but that can lead to added interest, and may even lead to debt collection activity. It may even harm your credit rating, too.
If you are worried about a debit on your account and are not sure what to do next, if your supplier cannot support you, it’s a good idea to consult this guide from OFGEM. There are ways and means for you to find help with very high energy bills.
Should I change energy suppliers?
You may well think that your latest energy bill is at a crazy price that you should not have to pay, which will automatically lead you to want to change providers. However, this may not actually be the easiest course of action to take.
It’s always a good idea to try and work through any problems you may have with your supplier’s pricing ahead of time. Are there any tariffs available that you can change to that might be more beneficial for your usage and income?
If you’ve exhausted these options, be sure to check out a price comparison site for energy tariffs. This has never been more recommended! This way, you can see what other suppliers in your area are charging for your expected usage.
Remember, before you change providers, ensure that you have paid your outstanding debts or debits with your current provider. Once your owed amounts have been settled, if you feel you can get a better deal elsewhere, then it’s time to make the switch.
Again, remember – a different supplier may not be able to offer better value for money. That is why it is so important to take the time to look at your bill. Your energy bill should tell you exactly what you have been using – take a look at online breakdowns if you have an account on your supplier’s website.
It may simply be that your supplier is building bills based on estimates. It’s a good idea to send estimates to your provider once a month – every month – so that you only ever get charged for what you need.
What does ‘in credit’ mean on my energy bill?
Essentially, an energy account in credit has overpaid for the energy they are using. This means that the energy supplier, in fact, owes you money. It’s a nice surprise, if rare!
This usually occurs in the summer months when we tend to use a lot less power. Many of us tend to avoid turning up the central heating in the warmer seasons – and what’s more, we’re not as reliant on indoor lights, and may actually be spending more time outside.
Therefore, if you make regular payments to your energy account, it might not be too surprising to see a bill come through as a credit. Don’t worry – this isn’t money you actually owe.
The great thing about having an energy bill in credit is that you can use it in multiple ways. You can have the energy company pay you back for the amount that you are owed, or you can simply build up the credit to be used at a later date.
For example, to avoid being in debit, if you know that you are bound to use more energy in the coming months, build up your credit to avoid having to pay extra for the added fuel.
It’s a good way to balance out the costs across the year – therefore, you’re not having to play catch up with a debit bill right when you’re already shelling out for Christmas presents!
Debit or credit – energy bill tips to put into practice
Now you know a little bit more about the ‘in debit’ meaning, and why it’s popping up on your energy bills, now is a great time to start getting into better habits. If you have an energy account in debit, here’s how you can better balance your bills moving forward.
- As mentioned, send meter readings once a month – the same day each month is a great idea to help keep your supplier up to date. Therefore, you are never being charged on assumptions alone.
- Keep a close eye on your gas-guzzling or energy-sapping appliances. How many wash loads do you run a week? Do you really need to run the tumble dryer in the middle of August? These appliances could be costing you dearly.
- Change your habits for the better – turn off your lights when you leave rooms, and switch off TVs and other entertainment devices when you’re not using them. If you do this in tandem with sending readings every month, you’ll soon see where you can save money.
- Charge up your phones, laptops and tablets only when necessary. If you get below that dreaded 10% marker, plug in. Then, unplug once you’re fully charged – or, your devices are simply running off the mains. It’s a waste of energy!
Now really is the time to start focusing on saving what you can when it comes to energy costs. We’re all feeling the pinch – but if you do find yourself in debit, it is easier than you think to get back on the straight and narrow again.