I have prepayment meters for energy and expect my bills to increase moving towards the winter months. I am also having difficulty getting to the shops to top up. I have been told that I can switch to a meter where I pay when I get the bill but am not sure. Can you help?

Prepayment customers can request to switch to credit meters for several reasons. This includes when someone has just moved into a property, as well as other circumstances. 

With this type of meter, you will have the option to receive regular bills or pay through Direct Debit. Even if there is debt on the meter, prepayment customers can request their supplier move them to a credit meter if it is not practical or safe for them.

Difficulties accessing meters

It might not be safe or practical to be on prepayment if the meter is difficult for you to get to, read or top up – for example, if you are disabled, or have a long-term illness or health condition. You can also request this if you need a continuous supply of electricity, for example if you use medical equipment like a stair lift or dialysis machine.

When making the decision about switching your meter, your supplier will look at your circumstances, including:

  • If they can help you top up in a different way
  • If someone else can help you top up;
  • how close you live to a top up point
  • Where your prepayment meter is;
  • and how severe your circumstances are

A supplier should not charge you to replace your prepayment meter if it is not safe or practical for you to use it, nor should they charge you a deposit to do so.

If you do not want to switch to an old-style credit meter or smart meter, your supplier might be able to move the location of your prepayment meter to make it easier to get to, and you should ask them about this. Customers with long-term illness or health conditions can also ask to be put on their supplier’s priority services register, offering extra help with their energy supply.

Support with Energy Costs

There are various sources of support available for Scottish citizens who are struggling with the cost of living – you are not alone!

  • Your Supplier – Energy customers who are finding it difficult to afford their supply can reach out their energy supplier to discuss their individual circumstances. Suppliers may be able to investigate alternatives or investigate the possibility of switching you to a credit meter. Additionally, many energy companies offer discretionary emergency credit to meters, meaning that anyone who has gone off-supply for electricity or gas can get back on as soon as possible.
  • Scotland’s national energy advice service – provide free, practical advice and information on energy-related matters to the citizens of Scotland and can answer energy-related enquiries. Our specialist advisers are available on 0808 196 8660 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).
  • The Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund – The fund seeks to provide financial relief to energy consumers who are experiencing significant financial hardship and strives to provide this support to households regardless of the fuel or payment method used. You can find more about the fund by visiting
  • Scotland’s national debt advice service – provide free information and support on a wide-range of debt-related issues. Our specialist debt advisers can work with you to assess your current situation, look at your income and expenditure and decide what to do next. You can call 0808 196 2316 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

To see the range of advice and support services provided by Advice Direct Scotland, you can visit Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance. - 0808 196 8660 (Monday to Friday - 9am-5pm) - Follow us on social media - On Twitter @advicedotscot, Instagram, and Facebook

Struggling with energy costs? Rationing energy to get by? The Home Heating Support Fund may be able to help! Click here