ENERGY bills are set to go through the roof this winter, piling pressure on hard-up households.
There's nothing you can do to avoid the hike, but there are ways to claim money you could be entitled to.
According to a recent report by Ofgem, it's important for energy suppliers to treat you fairly and provide you with good service.
If you don't think your supplier is serving you in the best way possible, there are ways you can go about fixing that.
That could include if they miss an appointment to your home, or your prepayment meter is broken or faulty, or if you've been accidentally switched to another supplier.
Of course, how much you could get in compensation depends on what the problem is.
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Don't be afraid to call up your supplier to double check which services are available to you and for when. You can also ask Citizens Advice, who have templates of complaint letters, if you're not sure how to handle something.
For now, we've listed scenarios which could grant you compensation, and how much you could get in return for the problem.
How to get £30 worth in compensation
Most services run by a set of guaranteed standards, which are a set of key points and rules they should follow in order to carry out the best job for customers.
If they miss or under-perform on any one of them, you could be entitled to a bit of money back.
Here's what could grant you back £30:
If you set up a home visit with your supplier and they don't come: If they fail to turn up, or they cancel or rearrange with less than one working days' notice.
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If you think your credit meter has a fault: After alerting your supplier, they have five working days to look into it. If there's a fault, they need to agree on a timescale with you during which to fix it or risk paying the customer £30 compensation
If your prepayment meter might have a fault: You'll need to tell your supplier as soon as you suspect it. Then, they have three to four hours depending on the day to send someone over.
If you've been disconnected from your supplier: They need to reconnect you within 24 hours if you either pay the outstanding debt in full, agree a repayment plan or agree to have a prepayment meter installed.
If it takes more than 15 working days to switch you to a new supplier.
If you've been accidentally switched: It should taken them 20 working days to get to the bottom of the issue. If you have been wrongly switched, it'll take another 21 days to sort but you should get your compensation.
If you do switch, but your old supplier doesn't send a final bill within six weeks of the contract end date.
If you’re in credit with your old supplier and you’ve agreed to a final bill: They have 10 days to refund you or risk having to pay compensation.
If your electricity is cut off: If your supplier needs to cut off your electricity, they need to tell you at least two days beforehand. You can also get £30 in compensation if they cut your supply on a different date than discussed.
If your electricity is scheduled to be cut, you should receive notice from your network operator. You can find out who that is using this Energy Networks Association tool – you'll just need to pop in your post code. You can also use it to find out who your energy supplier is.
There may still be some exceptions to these rules – depending on who you're with – but if you're not sure, you're entitled to have a chat with your supplier or contact Citizens Advice.
How to get £40 worth in compensation
If your gas is cut off: If your operator is planning to cut your supply of gas, you need to have at least seven days' notice.
How to get £60-£120 worth in compensation
If your gas is cut unexpectedly: If they don't give you any notice and cut your gas supply all of a sudden, you could get up to £60 in compensation.
But that's just after the first 24 hours of unexplained stoppage – if it's still not back on or addressed after the next 24 hours, you'll be entitled to another £60, making your total £120.
It's worth noting that, in any case where you think you're owed compensation, if more than 30,000 homes were affected, you caused an energy supply to be cut off or your provider took reasonable steps to prevent a problem, you may not be owed any money back.
And if something goes wrong because of bad weather, you probably won't be owed in compensation.
Again, always speak to your supplier if you're unsure of anything – it's their job to help no matter what.
Other ways to get help with your energy bills
Don't worry if you can't get compensation from an energy issue, there are lots of schemes and funds to lend you a helping hand if times are tough.
For example, The Household Support Fund was launched in October last year to help Brits pay their way through winter and has now been extended.
Councils up and down the country have been given a slice of £1.5 billion worth of funding.
But it's up to individual councils how they dish out their portion of the cash and who in their local area is eligible.
You should go to your council’s website to find out whether you are eligible for its HSF.
In some cases, payments are made automatically to residents who receive means-tested benefits, and in other areas you'll need to apply.
Also, households with poor insulation and out-dated heating systems could save up to £200 thanks to a government scheme.
The government announced in February that a new £67 million Home Upgrade grant will help as many as 4,300 households become more energy efficient.
Only the worst performing low-income and off-gas grid homes, ranging from Energy Performance Certificate Bands D to G, will be eligible for the upgrades.
The funding itself will be delegated to local councils though, so you'll have to get in touch with yours to claim the help.
In terms of energy schemes, you don't need to be a customer to get grants of up to £1,500 with British Gas, which is being dished out to those most in need.
You can apply for the help through the British Gas Energy Trust website.
To be eligible you must have an energy debt you're looking to clear off and have sought help from a money service, like Citizen's Advice or Stepchange.
You also can't have received a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust within the last two years.
You can read about more ways to get help with your bills here.
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if you're stressed about the cost of living crisis, here are some contacts that could lend a helping hand for the time being:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Step Change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
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