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What should I do if I get behind on my business energy bills?


Falling behind on energy bills is something that can happen to any business – insufficient cash flow, economic issues or even poor admin can all mean that a bill or two gets missed. Unfortunately, businesses have less protection than consumers when it comes to energy arrears. So what should you do if you find yourself unable to make your regular payments?

Tell your supplier

The first thing you should do is tell your supplier- there’s no point ignoring the situation. What’s more, your supplier can disconnect you after giving just 14 days notice, so don’t stick your head in the stand and start ignoring their letters!

Whilst you may put off speaking to your supplier, they will be used to dealing with businesses that are having problems, and will usually have a department dedicated to accounts that are in arrears. Your supplier will work with you to create a repayment plan that suits your needs – usually paying off your missed bills a small amount at a time, whilst continuing to make your normal payments. If you work from home, but use business energy, make this clear as they may treat you as a vulnerable customer.

Failure to pay bills can result in a black mark on your credit record and can be seen by future energy providers and investors. Additionally, the more payments you miss, the less willing your supplier will be to enter into a repayment plan.

Avoid falling into energy arrears

The best way to avoid falling into debt on your energy bills is to make sure that you are on the cheapest rates possible. If your margins are getting tight, then make sure you check whether you are able to change suppliers. If you aren’t, then be sure to get into the habit of comparing tariffs each time your contract is up for renewal. If you haven’t renegotiated your energy contract in some time then you are likely to be on out of contract rates, which we can safely say are very poor value. Likewise, if you moved premises and simply took on the existing supply without negotiating a new contract you will probably be on deemed rates, which are notoriously expensive.

You should also take efforts to reduce your energy bills – you may be surprised by the savings you can make by simple measures such as turning computers and printers off completely instead of leaving them on standby.

Beware of back billing

Energy companies can back bill you for up to 6 years of energy bills if you use more energy than you estimated when you took out your contract. Investment in new machinery or expansion without moving offices can quickly skyrocket your energy usage without you even realising it.

Back bills arrive as one lump sum and are supposed to be paid in the normal timescale. For this reason, it’s vital that you keep an eye on how much energy you are actually using. We have seen instances where energy suppliers have incorrectly billed companies for energy they haven’t actually used. If you’ve been keeping records of your energy usage your far less likely to be stung with a surprise, or incorrect, bill.

Can I switch supplier if I owe money?

If you have an outstanding balance on your account, you will not be able to switch suppliers. You will need to settle your bill with your previous supplier before you move on. One exception to this is if you are moving premises.

If you’re having trouble with your supplier, call us on 0800 411 8830. We can give you advice on your situation, as well as finding you the cheapest deals around and negotiate the switching process for you. 

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