Your rights in relation to gas and electricity
What are my rights to gas and electricity?
Everyone in the UK has the right to ask for their home to be connected to the gas or electricity network.
But you might not be able to get gas or electricity supplied to your home if:
- you are outside of a gas or electricity distributor's area (the companies that connect gas or electricity to your home)
- the supply of gas or electricity might be unsafe, e.g. the ground might not be suitable to safely install pipes
- the gas or electricity company refuses to connect you, e.g. because you won’t agree to a meter, can’t pay a deposit or have outstanding debts
If a gas or electricity distributor can connect your home, they must:
- give you an accurate quote for the cost of the work
- carry out any work with reasonable care and skill
- carry out work within the times set out in the contract
If they don't, they must pay you compensation. For more advice on compensation, contact Citizens Advice Bureau.
PAYING FOR GAS AND ELECTRICITY
With credit meters you pay for gas and electricity after you have used it, based on readings from a meter. You will receive a bill for the gas and electricity you have used.
With pre-pay meters you pay for your electricity or gas upfront, e.g. by putting £20 on a card, token or key.
It is usually far more expensive to buy gas and electricity through a pre-pay meter than a credit meter.
You don't have the right to have a credit meter.
If your home uses gas and electricity, you usually have the right to switch supplier. Switching to another gas or electricity supplier could save you money. You can use price comparison websites to help you find the cheapest deal.
Check the terms and conditions of your energy contract to see when you can cancel as you may have agreed to a deal for 12 months.
Price increases - Your energy company must write to you before it increases the price of gas or electricity. It must also tell you that you have the right to end the contract by switching to another company before the price rise starts.
NOTE: We feel really strongly about energy prices and as such we are petitioning Government to introduce new regulations to control these costs. Please sign our petition.
IF YOU DISAGREE WITH YOUR GAS OR ELECTRICITY BILL
If you disagree with the amount you’ve been charged for gas or electricity, ask your supplier to explain the charges to you.
If you can't afford your gas or electricity bill, tell your supplier immediately.
IF YOU NEED TO COMPLAIN
If you have a problem with your gas or electricity company, always contact the company first.
Follow up any complaint made over the phone in writing.
If you don't agree with the company's response, you can complain to:
- Citizens Advice, the Government funded consumer advice service
- The Energy Ombudsman – you will first need to give the energy company eight weeks to sort out your complaint
IF YOU PAY A LANDLORD FOR YOUR ENERGY
By law, a landlord can only:
- bill you for the gas or electricity you use
- charge you the amount they have paid for gas and electricity - this is known as the Maximum Resale Price (MRP)
You should be given a separate bill for any other charges such as an administration charge for billing or charges for lighting common areas.
Your gas or electricity company must provide free 'priority services' if you:
- are of pensionable age
- are registered disabled
- have a long-term illness
- are hearing or visually impaired
PRIORITY SERVICES CAN INCLUDE:
- agreeing a password with your energy company that their staff will use when they visit your home – this can protect you from bogus callers
- moving a pre-pay meter if you can't reach it
- sending someone to read your meter every three months if no-one in your home can do this
- bill nominee schemes – you choose someone to receive a copy of your bill to help you check it
- providing alternative gas and heating facilities if your gas supply is disrupted, for example, an electric heater
- a yearly gas safety check of your appliances and fittings
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Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the legal information contained on “consumeruk” is accurate, it does not constitute legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act upon it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. Neither the Proprietor nor Dean Dunham can assume responsibility and do not accept liability for any damage or loss which may arise as a result of your reliance upon it.
Last updated 14.07.2014