Advice for consumers
As providers of essential services, energy companies have contingency plans in place in order to ensure the delivery of services carries on as usual in all circumstances - including the current fast developing coronavirus situation.
This page attempts to answer some questions that energy consumers might have in relation to their energy supply during the COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to update the page with the latest information as and when it becomes available.
Under these exceptional circumstances, suppliers are aware that more customers might be struggling and, in particular, those in vulnerable circumstances or customers with pre-payment meters may need extra support with repayments or topping up meters. If you are struggling, please contact your supplier although do bear in mind that call centres are likely to be busier than usual (see below). Support could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary on a case by case basis.
Contacting your supplier:
Be aware that suppliers’ phone lines could get busy with longer than usual waiting times – due to staff shortages and/or high volumes of customers trying to get through.
Where possible please try online options – through your supplier’s website, app, email or social media. Many of these channels will be able to help with queries, leaving phone lines free for urgent enquiries.
Please keep an eye out for any communication from your supplier.
Customers on prepayment meters:
You should get in touch with your supplier if you are self-isolating and are unable to top up your meter. Support in place to ensure customers stay connected could include asking someone to top up your card for you, having a discretionary fund added to your meter, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card. If you have a smart prepayment meter, remember you can top up remotely.
Customers in vulnerable circumstances:
If you’re struggling with your bills please get in touch with your supplier. Any of us can become suddenly vulnerable and suppliers are aware that under these exceptional circumstances an increasing number of customers could potentially need additional support. Suppliers will try to prioritise customers in vulnerable circumstances.
Keeping the lights on:
Energy companies and National Grid, as providers of essential services, have well-practiced contingency plans in order to ensure the delivery of services carries on as usual. As an industry, we are working closely with the Government to identify any issues and mitigate them during these exceptional times.
If you see energy workers in the street:
You may see engineers or other employees from the energy sector out on the streets. Please do not be alarmed or challenge them. Given the importance of electricity and gas to our day-to-day life, we are doing everything we can to keep the lights on for all of us and making sure that customers, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances, receive reliable services. In line with the Government guidelines, energy companies are adopting the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness to keep both the public and their staff. Watch the video to see how we are doing this.
Make sure you stay safe from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning if you’re working from home or are in self-isolation. Make sure you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm fitted and make sure you regularly test it is working.
In case of a gas or carbon monoxide emergency, call 0800 111 999 - 24 hours a day. Find out more about carbon monoxide poisoning and how to stay safe: www.co-bealarmed.co.uk/how-to-stay-safe/
Home visits and installations:
Currently, all energy suppliers are following government, NHS and Public Health England guidelines in relation to all home visits. Due to the fast-moving nature of the situation, energy suppliers will continue to monitor and review their procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their customers and staff. Clearly, as the current situation evolves, it may be the case that non-urgent home visits (including smart meter installations) might have to be postponed.
You can read the latest consumers' advice from Which? here.
Be vigilant and protect yourself from fraud and misinformation at this time. Unfortunately, some individuals are using the current circumstances to take advantage of those who may be staying at home and focused on a different lifestyle than usual. You will need to be cautious, especially about sharing your personal and financial details.
Energy suppliers are working to protect their customers and would like customers to understand ways in which they can identify and protect themselves at this time. In addition to Energy UK’s usual advice on what to do and expect when dealing with your supplier, Citizens Advice has produced some guidance on checking if something might be a scam here.