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Covid-19: What energy suppliers are doing to help customers

This page summarises what gas and electricity suppliers are doing to protect their customers; it is based on our own research and will be updated as we learn more.

Avro Energy | Bristol Energy | British Gas | Bulb | EDF | E Energy | E.ON | Green Network Energy | Green Star Energy (now owned by Shell) | NPower | Octopus Energy, Co-Op | OVO/Boost/Lumo | Robin Hood Energy | ScottishPower | Shell Energy | Spark Energy | SSE | Utilita | Utility Warehouse

1) For credit meter customers


If you are worried about affording ongoing direct debit payments for energy during the outbreak, call your energy supplier, or if you can use web chat or email as phone lines are busy. You can request a temporary cancellation of your direct debit or regular payment, but it is important to confirm the following with your supplier:

  • Will the debt be chased?
  • Will stopping the direct debit affect your credit score?
  • What is the timescale for arranging repayments?

British Gas will not chase debts or report defaults to credit reference agencies as a result of hardship from COVID-19, but you should ask your supplier directly for their position on this.

Ofgem have said that no credit meters will be disconnected during the outbreak.

2) For prepayment meter customers


If the lockdown means you may struggle to top up your prepayment meter, contact your supplier immediately (via phone, web chat or email) and let them know. Do this before you run out of credit.

If you can’t leave home to top up, arrange for a trusted friend, relative or neighbour to take your key or card to the shops to top up for you if possible. Ensure your meter box is unlocked and accessible, and remember to disinfect the key or card before and after passing it over.

Bulb have issued guidance on topping up other people’s meters: https://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/360041211192

If you can leave home, top up a larger amount than normal if you can afford to, to build up credit.

If you have a smart prepayment meter, you can top up your meter over the phone or by logging into your app or online account.

If you haven’t already, sign up to the Priority Services Register with your energy supplier.

Help from suppliers:


Suppliers may offer to increase your emergency credit level, post a key or card pre-loaded with credit, send an engineer to top up the meter or temporarily convert your smart prepayment meters to a credit meters remotely to prevent disconnection.

The response may be case-specific and different suppliers are responding in different ways:


British Gas  

Pre-loaded keys or cards with 2 weeks of discretionary credit (paid back through future top ups) can be posted for emergencies. If you have a smart meter this can be done remotely.

If you are off-supply (credit has run out), an engineer will be sent to top up 2 weeks credit (for electric) and £5 credit for gas (followed by further credit on a pre-loaded card separately).

Customers who are medically vulnerable will be contacted directly so it is important to ensure British Gas know this, sign up to the Priority Services Register if you haven’t already (www.britishgas.co.uk/priority-service-register).

Contact: 0333 202 9802 or www.britishgas.co.uk/covid19


OVO/Boost/Lumo

Responses are considered on a case-by-case basis so contacting OVO, Boost or Lumo is recommended. Emergency credit limits can be extended.

Many Boost customers have a smart prepayment meter so are advised to top up over the phone, online or on the app. Customers with smart meters can also access Emergency Boost in their app, where the amount of emergency credit has been increased from £30 to £50.   

The OVO Coronavirus Hardship Scheme is available to all OVO, Boost and Lumo customers. If successful, applicants will be given credit for their energy account which will need to be paid back through a manageable payment plan at a later date. Applications are done over the phone, more information here: www.boostpower.co.uk/coronavirus-hardship-scheme

Contact: 0800 358 3523 | www.boostpower.co.uk/coronavirus-update


Spark Energy

Responses are considered on a case-by-case basis so contacting Spark is recommended. Emergency credit limits can be extended.

Contact: 0345 034 7474 | www.sparkenergy.co.uk/coronavirus


SSE    

Responses are considered on a case-by-case basis so contacting SSE is recommended. Emergency credit limits can be extended and payment plans temporarily reduced. Smart meter installations can still be arranged for prepayment meter customers.

As SSE is now part of the OVO family, SSE customers can be supported through the OVO Coronavirus Hardship Scheme (see above).

Contact: 0345 072 9495 | https://sse.co.uk/help/coronavirus-questions-and-answers


EDF    

EDF have set up a specific hardship fund. Pre-loaded keys/cards with £50-100 credit can be posted but will need to be paid back. Repayment will be deferred for 3-4 months and can be set at a minimum of £1 per week.

Smart prepayment meters can be changed to credit meters remotely without a credit check during the outbreak.              

Contact: 0333 200 5110 (or 0203 995 2602 for smart meters) | www.edfenergy.com/coronavirus-advice


E.ON 

Emergency credit limit for gas has been raised from £5 to £50. Check on your emergency credit limit on your meter, if it hasn’t raised to £50 you (or a trusted person) needs to take your card to the last shop you topped up at and top up by at least £1, then put it in your meter.

The same rise in emergency credit limit is planned for electricity soon.

Engineers will visit to top-up meters for customers unable to top up at the shops. If the meter is inside the property the engineer will leave a pre-loaded key/card by the door. £5 is the maximum they can top up on gas, but more credit will be sent by pre-loaded card in the post. Emergency credit will need to be repaid at a later date.

Smart meter customers who have disconnected for over 4 hours will be contacted to offer support.

Contact: 0345 052 0000 | www.eonenergy.com/coronavirus-update


ScottishPower

Responses are considered on a case-by-case basis so contacting ScottishPower is recommended if you may struggle to top up.          

Contact: 0800 027 0072 | http://community.scottishpower.co.uk/t5/Extra-Help/Coronavirus-COVID-19-information-for-ScottishPower-customers/ta-p/15029


NPower       

Emergency credit limit for gas has been raised from £7 to £45. Check on your emergency credit limit on your meter, if it hasn’t raised to £45 you (or a trusted person) needs to take your card to the last shop you topped up at and top up by at least £1, then put it in your meter.

The same rise in emergency credit limit is planned for electricity soon.

Pre-loaded keys or cards for emergencies have not been announced but anyone struggling to top up should contact NPower. Debt repayment plans can be temporarily lowered.

Contact: 0800 073 3000 | www.npower.com/help-and-support/coronavirus


Bulb  

Pre-loaded keys or cards can be posted in some cases but this takes 2-3 days.

Smart prepayment meters can be changed to credit meters remotely without a credit check during the outbreak.              

Contact: 0300 33 0635 | http://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/360041083931


Bristol Energy

Responses are considered on a case-by-case basis so contacting Bristol Energy is recommended if you may struggle to top up.          

Contact: 0808 281 2222 | www.bristol-energy.co.uk/coronavirus-customers-staff


Utilita           

Most Utilita customers have a smart prepayment meter so are advised to top up over the phone, online or on the app (or ask a relative or friend to do this remotely by registering for the app using the account details). Smart meter installations can still be arranged.

Extra emergency credit is available through POWER UP (https://utilita.co.uk/powerup), this is a maximum of £20 for electricity and £10 for gas.          

Contact: 0345 207 2000 | www.utilita.co.uk/help/covid-19


Octopus Energy, Co-Op  

Extended emergency credit limit for customers unable to top up, contact Octopus.

Contact: 0800 093 7547 | www.octopus.energy/blog/coronavirus


Utility Warehouse           

No specific guidance available, prepayment meter customers will receive guidance in the post.

Contact: 0333 777 3247 | www.uw.co.uk/coronavirus


Shell Energy           

Short term credit extensions can be arranged (paid back through future top ups) and debt repayment plans can be reduced.

Contact: 0330 094 5802 | https://help.shellenergy.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/360007335817-COVID-19-Payments-Collections-FAQs


Green Star Energy (now owned by Shell)    

Can issue £50 credit (per fuel) for emergencies when topping up is not possible. Credit will be sent to nearest top up outlet; pre-loaded keys/cards are possible but not guaranteed. Credit will need to be repaid at a later date.

Contact: 0800 012 4510 | www.mygreenstarenergy.com/Help-and-Support/Emergencies-and-Safety/Coronavirus


Avro Energy           

No guidance online yet, contact Avro if you are unable to top up.

Contact: 0330 058 2005 | www.avroenergy.co.uk


E Energy              

Contact E if you are unable to top up.   

Contact: 0333 103 9575 | www.e.org


Green Network Energy

Emergency credit support may be available but no specifics online, contact GNE if you are unable to top up. Payment plans can be temporarily reduced.

Contact: 0800 520 0202 |Online contact form at www.greennetworkenergy.co.uk/coronavirus-advice-customers


Robin Hood Energy        

Phone lines are currently closed, email customerservice@robinhoodenergy.co.uk for support. Check the website for updates on support.     

Contact: 0800 030 4567 |  www.robinhoodenergy.co.uk/covid-19-advice-for-customers


Other help

  • If you have a gas leak, call 0800 111 999.

  • If you have a faulty meter call your supplier, they are still carrying out safety-critical home visits.

  • If you experience a power cut, call 105 (free phone number).

If you would like further support or you are still struggling to top up after speaking with your energy supplier, please contact us on 0800 082 2234.

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Priority Services Register

If you live in the green or blue areas, we can sign you up to your local priority services register if you're over 60 or you rely on electricity for medical or mobility reasons or you have a hearing or visual impairment or a long-term health condition.

Click here for details.