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Energy bill debts are any debts associated with the energy usage in your home, such as lights and appliances such as TV’s, computers, and refrigerators. These bills are usually taken monthly and failing to keep up with your energy bill payments can see your energy supply switched off and may cause further charges to be applied to your account.

What are energy bills?

Energy bills are recurring charges associated with the continued supply of energy to your home or residence. They are typically charged monthly, but contracts can be made annually or quarterly. Bills are dependent on your energy usage and homes will typically see higher energy costs in winter months due to colder weather. This is a service associated with keeping your home comfortable and liveable.

How could I go into debt with my energy bills?

If you fail to make payments to your  energy provider each month you could fall into debt. This can happen particularly in times of rising costs and higher living expenses. As wholesale prices rise, service providers such as energy and gas companies will charge more for services.

In the UK, energy charges are capped up to a certain limit, known as the energy price cap.

What happens if I can’t pay my energy bills?

If you’re unable to pay your energy bills, you’ll fall into arrears with your service providers. Once in arrears, you’ll be expected to make up any missed payments and may be charged additional late fees. If you’re still unable to pay, you could risk losing your energy supply and having your access switched off as a result.

If your energy bill debt continues to go unpaid, your debt can be passed over to a collection agency, who will begin to chase you for the debt alongside any additional fees they may apply. This contact can escalate from phone calls and letters to home visits and legal action.

Is there help available for energy bill debt?

If you’re struggling to keep on top of your energy bills, help is available. First, you should see if you can be put onto your supplier’s priority services register. This is a service provided by energy suppliers and providers that offers those struggling with extra support.

You should also check to see if you’re entitled to any benefits or government help. You can check which benefits you may be entitled to on the government website here.

Finally, if you’re still struggling with your energy debts you should seek debt advice from a professional debt advisor. With a debt advisor you can review your finances and debts and come up with a debt solution that works for you.

For free debt advice you visit MoneyHelper.

If you wish to speak to a MoneyPlus advisor, head over to MoneyPlus Advice to learn more.

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Tips for paying your energy bills

It’s important to keep on top of your household energy bills to avoid going into debt with your supplier. Paying your priority bills should be at the top of your financial list and should be your main focus when budgeting.

Here are some tips for paying your energy bills:

Call your supplier: If you’re struggling with your energy bills, the first step should be to call your supplier. By calling your supplier early you can help minimise the damage of missed payments and may be able to discuss any support plans or packages that might help with your payments. Suppliers have a number of systems in place to protect vulnerable customers, so be sure to reach out if you feel you need additional support.

Keep a written budget: With so many bills and essential payments coming out each month it can be hard to keep track of everything. Keeping a written budget of all your energy bills can help you get a clearer idea of exactly how much you’re paying each month. This can ensure that you always know exactly how much you’ll need to pay to keep your utilities and essentials in order.

Check your eligibility for help: If you’re struggling to pay your utilities, it’s important to find out if you’re eligible for any help or assistance to ensure your utilities are covered. It’s estimated that over £13 billion in UK benefits go unclaimed. If you’re unsure if you may be entitled, you can find out through benefits checks either with Turn2Us or through the GOV.UK website.

Install smart meters: It’s called smart for a reason! A smart meter can give you a detailed look at your energy use ensuring that you know exactly what you’re spending and where. By installing a smart meter, you can be more energy conscious and save on your energy costs.

Can I have my energy bill debts written off?

While you can’t have your energy bill debts written off, there are a number of options that suppliers must agree to if you are unable to pay. If you receive benefits or some form of pension credit you can apply for the Fuel Direct Scheme, this allows you to pay your energy bill debts through your benefits and suppliers must oblige a Fuel Direct request.

If you don’t receive benefits but are still struggling to afford your energy bills your supplier will likely offer you a more affordable repayment plan to help you repay your debt and keep your energy supply. They may also remove extra charges and late fees to help make your debts more manageable.

Can my energy supply be shut off if I am unable to pay my energy bills?

Yes, if you continue to leave your energy bills unpaid your supplier can disconnect your supply, although there are rules that they must follow before doing so.

Suppliers must wait 28 days from the date of your unpaid bill before they can take action to turn off your supply.

Suppliers cannot turn off your supply without due warning. Once the 28-day period has elapsed, suppliers must give you a seven-day notice, in writing, before disconnecting your supply.

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