Your energy questions
Staying connected is a new document containing the key information that energy consumers need to know about to get and stay connected to their energy supply.
It has information about the level of service you should expect, how to switch supplier and get the best deal, your rights as an energy customer, what to do and who to contact if something goes wrong and what additional help is available.
There are two versions of the document – Staying connected 2012 (PDF 1.4MB) with the basic information you’ll need and a more detailed version Staying connected 2012 – full version (PDF 541KB) with links to other sources of information. These can both be downloaded in PDF format.
We conducted some research with consumers to assess what they thought of the report and to make it as useable as possible. See Staying connected – Optimisa Research report (PDF 756KB) for more information.
Top 10 consumer energy rights which could help save you money:
- You don’t have to wait in all day for a meter reader or engineer. If your energy firm needs to visit you at home, you are entitled to a 2 hour appointment slot and compensation if they miss it – £22 if it was gas or electricity related (£44 if both).
- Your supplier can’t backdate charges for any more than 1 year, if they have made a mistake and underestimated your bills. Giving regular meter readings to your energy firm can help ensure you always pay the right amount.
- Your energy firm must give you 30 days notice of any price rise, and cannot implement the increase if you tell them within 15 working days that you’re leaving. They also can’t charge fixed-term deal customers an exit fee if they switch within this time.
- Consumers can claim compensation for power-cuts from their energy distributor (not supplier): £54 for an outage of 18 hours (£27 for each additional 12 hours without power); or £54 for 4 or more power-cuts in a year lasting 3 hours plus.
- People who are of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick can get extra help through their supplier’s Priority Services Register. This includes free quarterly meter readings, bills in large print or braille or bills sent to a friend / relative, and a free annual gas safety check for those in receipt of means-tested benefits.
- If you switch supplier it should take no longer than 5 weeks (2 weeks cooling off and 3 weeks for the switch). Suppliers have also committed to make switching hassle-free, so the buck stops with them to sort out any problems, not the customer.2
- You are entitled to £250 compensation if you are switched to an energy firm without your permission. You are also entitled to compensation if you can prove you were deliberately misled by a sales person.3
- If you get into debt your supplier must agree repayments that are affordable for you, they cannot set the amount. Some suppliers also have trust funds which can help you to settle debts or other essential costs – visit the Charis website for more details.
- Suppliers offer free insulation to those on low incomes, which on average cuts £120 a year off your energy bill. Many are offering cash incentives to low income households that take up free insulation and are providing free insulation to other customers too.2
- If you switch your energy supplier you have 14 days to change your mind and cancel the switch, without incurring any charges.