I have been really struggling to heat my home over the last few months. My energy costs seem to have jumped up, with my direct debit massively increasing and I don’t understand why. Can you help?

I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling with energy costs. Many have seen a jump in the cost of their electricity and gas over the last few months for several reasons.

The wholesale cost of energy has increased, meaning that many suppliers have had to increase the costs that they then charge to their customers.

So what can I do?

The first thing you should do is contact your energy supplier to see what the situation is. Some suppliers increase direct debit amounts in the winter months to take into account the higher usage over this period.

Sometimes, these increases are not entirely reflective of your usage, so it is worth speaking with the energy company to clarify this.

Estimated vs Actual Meter Readings

Another thing to consider is whether you have been ensuring that you are supplying regular meter readings.

If you have a traditional meter, haven’t had a smart meter installed, and haven’t provided these readings, then it may be the case that your usage is being estimated.

Take a meter reading when you contact your supplier, and you can provide this to them at the same time as you are making your enquiry. They will be able to use this to calculate whether you have paid enough to them for your actual usage and adjust your direct debit accordingly.

In this situation, it could also mean that they may have to increase what you are paying if you have been previously underpaying.

Sources of Support

There are sources of funding out there for people struggling with energy costs, including those who are self-rationing energy, or who are at risk of self-disconnection.

Advice Direct Scotland can investigate the sources of help that may be available to you and refer you to them if appropriate, including the Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund.

Additionally, Advice Direct Scotland run, who can provide advice and information on a range of energy-related matters, including billing, energy meters, and other sources of support that may be available to you if you are struggling to pay for energy.

For more information, you can visit, or alternatively, call them on 0808 196 8660 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm). I hope this helps your situation.

I am in credit with my energy supplier after massively overpaying by direct debit. How do I claim this back?

If you have overpaid for energy by direct debit, you will be in credit and entitled to any payment over the correct amount. This usually happens when the bill is estimated, and you end up using less than expected.

The supplier may reduce your monthly payments to cover what you are owed or refund you at the end of the year. If you wish to claim your credit balance back from the supplier, you should contact them directly.

You may need to provide a current meter reading for the refund to be approved. It might be preferable to keep the credit on your account to reduce bills for future months with higher costs, especially taking the winter months into consideration.

If your supplier refuses to refund your credit balance or reduce your bill to cover the overpayment, then you can make a complaint to them directly.

I hope this helps and you get the situation resolved.

You can access free, impartial advice on any topic from Advice Direct Scotland by visiting This centralised website has links to advice and information in a range of areas. Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance.