Simon Read: 'Smart meters will stop energy firms owing us cash'

The planned £10.9bn installation of smart meters in all homes by 2020 should ensure that we only pay for the energy we use

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The Independent Online

The energy firms now owe us more than £1.1bn. However, before you start celebrating, bear in mind that they don't owe it to all of us. Only about half of British homes are owed money – some 46 per cent of them – which is, on average, £93, according to uSwitch.

The debts have built up because many homes used less energy than they paid for over the winter months but have been charged for more because gas and electricity companies rely on inaccurate estimated meter readings.

In one in 10 homes, the amount owed could actually be more than £200, the comparison site said, which could be a decent bonus to get back ahead of holidays.

Ann Robinson, of uSwitch, advises: "Now is the time to check your energy account to see if your supplier owes you money after the winter. Energy bills are often based on estimates rather than actual usage, so can be way off the mark."

Under rules introduced a few years ago, suppliers must refund the money to you if requested, which means that claiming what is rightfully yours has never been easier. Simply check the balance on your energy account and, if you're in credit, demand your cash back now.

On the other hand, if you're in debt – as almost four million homes are – you may need to think about upping your monthly repayment. However, bear in mind that using less home energy over the summer months should mean your account with your energy firm will get back on track.

The good news in all this is that the planned £10.9bn installation of smart meters in all homes by 2020 should ensure that we only pay for the energy we use, meaning no credit balances – and no debt.

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