If your energy supplier has increased your direct debit payments
If you pay for your gas or electricity by direct debit, the payments will usually be based on an estimate of the amount of energy you’ll use over a year.
Your payments will increase if you use more energy than the supplier has estimated. You might also have to pay for the extra energy you used.
Your supplier normally has to let you know about a price increase at least 10 days before it happens - this is known as a 'direct debit guarantee'. If they don’t, you should complain to your supplier.
Your monthly direct debit for gas and electricity is set at £70. Your supplier checks this against the amount of energy you actually use and finds that it has been set too low. You owe £300 in arrears.
Your supplier estimates that you actually use £90 of energy a month. They raise your direct debit payments to £120, which covers your higher usage and paying off the arrears. When the debt is repaid, your supplier reduces your payments to £90.
You should try to submit meter readings regularly - this will mean that your direct debit payments are based on how much energy you actually use rather than an estimate.
Get your supplier to explain the increase
You can challenge the increased direct debit payment amount with your supplier if you disagree with it.
Ask your supplier to justify how they calculated the new amount. They must explain clearly how they reached the figure they want to charge, and give you the meter readings they used.
When you look at the meter readings, check them against the meter readings on your bill to see if they are the same. Remember that your usage will be higher in the winter months.
You might want to try to claim back money from your supplier if you've paid too much.
If you’re still not happy
If you’re still not happy with your supplier’s calculation, ask your supplier to lower your monthly payments to more accurately reflect your energy use.
If you’re unhappy with their response, you should make a complaint.
If you're struggling to pay
There are steps you should take if you're struggling to pay your energy bills to make sure you don't end up in debt.
You can get help and advice about your energy bills from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.