Bills and payments

How Direct Debit reviews (or “check-ins”) work

Think of Direct Debit reviews as regular health checks for your account. Also known as “Direct Debit check-ins”, they help us protect you from any unexpected big bills at the end of each year-long billing period. 

Read on, to get the scoop on Direct Debit check-ins, how they work, how to change your Direct Debit amount, and much more.

What’s a Direct Debit check-in?

Simply put, it’s a regular assessment of your current monthly payments, to make sure you’re on track to end your contract (or 12-month billing period) with a £0 balance. Doing this protects you from having to pay a lump sum.

How Direct Debit check-ins work: your step-by-step guide

  1. When you join OVO, we estimate the cost of your energy over a year, then divide it by 12. That’s your recommended monthly amount.

  2. After 1 month, when we've had a couple of readings from you, we'll have a clearer picture of your energy use. This is when we run the first check-in.

  3. We’ll then keep doing rolling check-ins every 3 months.

  4. If we think the Direct Debit is too high, or too low, then we'll automatically change the amount and let you know.

If you're ever worried about your Direct Debit increasing, or if you're struggling financially, please get in touch. There are many ways that we can support you. We're always here to help.

Other reasons why we might ask you to change your payment amount

There are a few reasons why your payments might change. These include:

  • you’re using more or less energy than we expected

  • the price of energy has gone up or down

  • you’ve recently changed plan

  • your account balance has changed (you’ve missed a payment or recently requested a refund)

How we calculate your Direct Debit amount

To calculate your Direct Debit, we work out your costs for a year, and then divide everything by 12.

Here’s an example, to show how we do it:

Calculating Direct Debit costs over 1 year

How did we work out your first Direct Debit amount?

When you join OVO, we estimate how much energy you’ll use in a year, and what it’ll cost. To do this, we look at the size of your home, and any meter readings we already have. Then, we divide everything by 12. And voila, that’s your monthly Direct Debit amount. 

By the way, it’s worth noting that the more accurate info you can give us when you join, the more accurate your estimated Direct Debit amount will be – which means less chance of it being adjusted later!

Calculating your new Direct Debit amount

With every Direct Debit check-in:

  • We’ll estimate your energy use and costs for the rest of your contract

  • We take into account any positive or negative balance you might have

  • Then we just divide it by your remaining months

  • That’ll be your new Direct Debit amount

Here’s an example showing how we calculate your new Direct Debit amount:

Calculating how much you'll need to pay

Calculating your new Direct Debit amount when you renew your plan

Say you’ve got 2 months left on your current plan, which you’ve already renewed for another year:

  • We’ll estimate your energy use and costs for the next 14 months (the remaining months of your current year + the next year) 

  • We’ll take into account any positive or negative balance you might have

  • Finally, we divide everything by 14 – to make your payments nice and manageable

Find out more about your energy bill, and how to understand every part of it, in our step-by-step guide

Why it’s important to get Direct Debit amounts right

The idea of Direct Debit is to find the right amount to balance your account through the year. So by the end of the billing period, you don’t owe us anything, and we don’t owe you anything.

Our goal is for you to have a £0 balance at the end of your contract (or 12-month billing period), so you don’t have to pay back a lump sum.

Learn more about how your account balance works, with our handy guide

Use our Direct Debit calculator to see how changing your monthly payments can affect your balance over time.

How to change your Direct Debit amount via your online account

Changing your Direct Debit amount is a doddle. Just hop into your online account, head to the Payments page and click Adjust your Direct Debit. You’ll need to do it at least 6 days before your next payment.

Adjust DD screen online account

It’s also quick and easy to change the date the payment is taken. Just scroll down the Payments page until you see Change Direct Debit date and click to change your nominated date.

Other frequently asked questions

Why do we run check-ins, even if you have a positive balance?

Even little things like the weather getting colder, or watching more TV than usual, can change how much energy you’re using. So checking in on your monthly payments is a handy way to protect you from ending up with a negative balance – even if it’s looking pretty healthy right now.

Why is sending us regular meter readings so important?

Regular meter readings help us to work out how much energy you’ve used, so we know how much to charge you.

We like to get a meter reading from you the day before we calculate your bill, so we know exactly what you’ve used. If we don’t get a current meter reading, we’ll create your bill by estimating the amount of energy you’ve used since the last meter reading. 

We’ll take into account any meter readings given since the last bill, and estimate any missing days – even if it’s only one. Or if we haven’t had a meter reading at all, we’ll estimate your entire use since the last bill.  

Still not sure how to read a meter? Learn more about how to read and submit your gas and electricity meter readings, right here!

Do you still need to give meter readings if you have a smart meter?

If you already have a smart meter, there’s usually no need to give regular readings, as they’re sent automatically. But there are some situations where you may still need to send a manual reading from your smart meter. For instance: 

  • If you’re a new customer

  • If a technical issue means your energy company can’t automatically connect to your smart meter

  • If your smart meter has only recently been installed

Read more about smart meters and how they work, in our handy guide. 

Why has your Direct Debit amount changed?

If we think the Direct Debit is too high, or too low, then we'll let you know.

If your Direct Debit goes up, it’s because your current amount doesn’t cover the cost of the energy you’re using – which could cause you to build up a negative balance. If your Direct Debit is lowered, it could be because you’re using less energy than we expected or energy prices have come down. 

If we think your Direct Debit amount needs to change, we’ll always let you know at least 10 days in advance.

You can help to make sure your Direct Debit is correct by giving us regular meter readings (unless you have a smart meter – in which case, they’re usually sent automatically). Sending meter readings once a month is ideal.

Why can your payments still change, even if you’re on a fixed-rate plan?

A fixed-rate only refers to the amount you pay per kWh. You still need to pay for however much energy you use. When you use more energy, you pay more. When you use less energy, you pay less. 

We estimate your Direct Debit payment by calculating how much energy we think you’ll use over the year. If you use more, we’ll ask you to increase your Direct Debit amount, and if you use less you can easily reduce your payments via your online account.

If you’re on a fixed plan, you won’t be affected by the cost of energy going up or down.

Why do we recalculate your Direct Debit when we renew your plan?

We do this to help you spread the costs for your next year with us. We’ll estimate your energy use and costs for the remaining months of the current year + the 12 months of next year, add any positive or negative balance you might have – and divide everything by the total number of months.

Why do most of our customers pay in advance by Direct Debit?

Paying in advance by Direct Debit helps us keep our costs down – which means we can buy your gas and electricity in advance. And that means we can pass those savings on to you, via our great-value plans.

Book a smart meter appointment today

Still sending meter readings yourself? A smart meter will do it all for you! Book an appointment to get your free smart meter fitted. It sends readings automatically from the get-go, and you’ll get real-time feedback via your free In-Home Display that comes with it.

Plus, you'll be able to see your readings, spending and much more in your online account! Find out more about how to get a smart meter, with our handy guide.

Any further questions?

We understand that Direct Debit check-ins can sometimes be a little confusing – so if you need a hand, don’t hesitate to get in touch in our online chat. There’s also more help available in the OVO Forum. And if you don't find the answers you need, feel free to ask a question, and one of our forum members will be happy to help.

Ask the OVO Forum

Can’t find an answer? Try asking our helpful OVO community.

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