Energy advice

Struggling to pay your energy bills? We can help

Need some help paying your energy bills? Find out how we can help you with a payment plan, the OVO Energy Fund, and extra support and guidance.

Struggling to pay your gas and electricity bills can be distressing – but don’t worry, you’re not alone. Every year, thousands of people across the UK have difficulty keeping up with payments – so we’re here to help you find ways to manage your debt. Read on, to learn about the different options available. 

What can I do if I can’t pay my energy bill?

If you’re having money troubles and can’t pay your energy bills, the first thing to do is give us a call on 0800 0699 831. If we know about it as soon as you fall into difficulty, we can do our best to help you work things out. Some of the ways we can help are:

  • Work together to come up with a fair payment plan that suits you, with regular affordable installments
  • GIve guidance on where you can find independent advice (see below)
  • Offer to take payments directly, through a scheme like Fuel Direct (find out more below)
  • Send you useful information on how to cut your bills by being more energy-efficient (see below)
  • Let you know about the OVO Energy Fund and give more advice on energy debt (see below)

If there’s a queue on the 0800 0699 831 number, there’s no need to hang on – one of our friendly advisers will call you back. Telling us about your payment difficulties is the first positive step towards getting back on track.

How we can support you with your energy bill payments

Payment plans

It’s not uncommon for members to fall behind with their gas or electricity bills at some point. That’s why we have procedures in place to help you – and we’ll do everything we can to make it possible for you to keep on top of things. 

What do I need to do?

Before calling us:

  • Make a list of all the money you’ve got coming in (eg. wages, benefits, pension)
  • Write down what you regularly spend each month (eg. rent/mortgage, council tax, water bill, broadband bill, mobile phone bill, average food costs, travel costs, average grocery and toiletry costs, Direct Debits/standing orders, other debt payments)
  • Also add any big one-off payments that you have coming up (eg. insurance or road tax)

Once you have these figures, you’ll have a better idea of how much money you’ll be able to pay each month in your payment plan, towards your bill. Don’t worry if it’s not much – we’re obliged by law to help you find a solution. The important thing is letting us know as soon as you’re in trouble, and making a plan. If you don’t contact us, the possibility of being disconnected is greater. 

When you call us, just say you want to discuss ways to pay what you owe us. Then we use your list to negotiate an affordable payment plan. Find more detailed information in our practical guide

What kind of payment plan will you offer me?

Using the information you give us, we’ll help you come up with a payment plan that fits your circumstances. We’ll agree on a fixed amount, to be paid over a set period of time. The payments will be made on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. 

Some of the money will go towards repaying the debt, and some will go towards the gas and electricity you’re currently using. This way, you don’t have to find a big lump sum all at once – you can pay off what you owe gradually, at your own pace. 

Just make sure you’re happy with the payment plan you agree to, and feel it’s do-able, moving forward. 

What happens if I can’t keep to the plan?

If you find you’re still having trouble keeping up with the payments, just call us again on 0800 0699 831 and we can try to come up with a better plan. If you fall behind with payments again, and don’t let us know, we may decide to install a prepayment meter.

Deciding to install a prepayment meter 

A prepayment meter is like any other pay-as-you-go (PAYG) device, such as a mobile phone. You pay for your energy before you use it, by topping up, rather than paying a bill afterwards. It’s a good way to budget, clear debt and make sure you don’t get any unexpected big bills. 

Nowadays, prepayment meters are being replaced by smart meters which can be topped up online, rather than with special keys or a card – making it more convenient for you. 

OVO Energy prepayment customers have their own PAYG brand: Boost. This means you’ll get a brand new smart meter fitted in your home free of charge. And you can use the new Boost app to top up from wherever you are. 

With a prepayment meter, there’s always the risk of running out of credit, and power. But these days, most prepayment meters come with some “emergency credit” of around £5. Which is enough to give you another 24 hours or so of power. For Boost customers, we also make sure that your power will never cut out during the night, weekend, or bank holidays – even if you run out of emergency credit. This is so you can stay safe, and have enough time to top up at your local shop. 

Find out more about what happens if your prepaid Boost meter runs out of credit.

There are some circumstances in which customers won’t have their supply cut off, even with PAYG – for instance if you use a ventilator. But you must make your supplier aware of this when you first sign up. 

If you’re on a prepayment plan, some of the money you put in will be used to pay off your debt, and some will pay for your current energy use. We’ll work with you to agree on a rate you can afford. 

To find out more about how prepayment meters work, and how one might help you, head over to our comprehensive guide

OVO Energy Fund

The OVO Energy Fund is a fund to help people who’ve fallen behind with their energy payments to OVO. If you’ve fallen into debt and want to become more financially stable in future, find out below if you can apply. If your application’s successful, we’ll make a payment directly into your OVO account.

How to know if I am eligible for the OVO Energy Fund?

You can apply to the fund if:

  • You have, or have had, an account with OVO Energy
  • You’ve run up a debt on your gas or electricity account of at least £150
  • Your annual household income is £16,190 or less
  • You have a valid reason affecting your ability to pay 

How will you assess my application?

We’ll work with the Plymouth branch of the award-winning charity Citizens Advice, which is well-known for its high-quality energy debt advice.

Provided your application is successful, Citizens Advice Plymouth will be in touch within 4 - 6 weeks of you submitting your application.

When you apply for the fund, we’ll start by offering you a 1-hour telephone appointment with a Citizens Advice Plymouth Energy Advisor. They’ll talk you through all your options, and explain how you can reduce your risk of debt in 3 ways:

  1. By making the most of your income
  2. Using energy more efficiently
  3. Avoiding energy debt

We hope this will help to increase your long-term financial confidence and stability.

I’ve applied once for a grant from the fund. How soon can I reapply?

If your application’s successful and you get funding to clear your energy debt, we may ask you to wait 2 years before reapplying to the fund.

If your application is not successful, you can re-apply whenever you like if your circumstances change – but we will ask for evidence.

I’m having trouble completing the application form. Where can I get help?

If you’re having trouble because you’re ill, affected by sight loss or arthritis, or otherwise vulnerable, you can ask a friend, relative or carer to help you. There’s a section in the form where they’ll need to write their details, to show they filled in the form with you.

You can also get help from a Citizens Advice Plymouth Energy Advisor – just call 01752 507703.

How do I apply to the OVO Energy Fund?

 APPLY HERE FOR THE OVO ENERGY FUND  

For more information, check the OVO Energy Fund Terms and Conditions

Can I change my energy supplier if I’m in debt?

It’s commonly believed that it’s not possible to switch to a new energy supplier if you owe money on your energy bills. But it’s not strictly true. You can switch, even if you’re in debt – so long as:

  • You owe less than £25 
  • You’ve been in debt for less than 28 days

Find out more about your rights from the Citizens Advice Bureau

How else can you get help? Charities and government organisations to help you pay your energy bills

There are plenty of organisations – some charity, some government – that can offer you advice when it comes to money worries. They are:

Step Change Debt Charity

This is the UK’s largest provider of free, independent debt advice. It helps thousands of people every week to overcome debt problems.

You can talk to them for free on 0800 138 1111 (Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, and Saturday 8am-4pm).

You can also use their online Debt Remedy tool. After you’ve answered a series of questions about your household, income and expenditure, it’ll recommend how to manage your debts, based on your personal circumstances.

Fuel Direct 

The Fuel Direct scheme (part of the Department for Work and Pensions) can take the hassle out of paying your energy bills or debt, as it will pay them for you – directly from any of these benefits: 

  • Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)

For more information, contact Jobcentre Plus (or your pension centre if you’re on Pension Credit). You’ll need to give:

  • Our details, and how much you owe us
  • Your customer account number
  • Your National Insurance number

National Debtline

This debt charity gives free advice in England and Wales through its helpline and online tool, My Money Steps.

My Money Steps will ask some questions about your income, spending and debts. It’ll then help you work out the best way to deal with your debts, and give you step-by-step help and support to get back in control.

Call them on 0808 808 4000 (Monday to Friday 9am-9pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm).

Centre for Sustainable Energy

We’ve partnered with the energy-saving advice experts at Centre for Sustainable Energy, to give you free, impartial advice on how to save energy and keep your home warm in winter.

Just have your name and account details ready when you call. And remember, if you’re of pensionable age; have a disability, hearing and/or visual impairment; or suffer from long-term ill health, there may be special help available – so don’t forget to mention this to us when you call.  

Call them on 0800 408 6601, or 0117 203 4264 for mobiles. (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm)

Civil Legal Advice (CLA) 

Get free, confidential legal advice in England and Wales, if you’re eligible for legal aid. Call 0845 345 4 345 (Monday to Friday 9am-8pm and Saturday 9am-12.30pm).

Citizens Advice Bureau

For free advice and information on debt, drop into your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or visit 

Ombudsman Services

If you have a problem sorting out a complaint with a gas or electricity company, the Ombudsman may be able to help, on 0330 440 1624. 

But, you should only contact the Ombudsman after you’ve tried to resolve things directly with your gas or electricity company. So, if you’re with OVO, please tell us you’re unhappy before you contact them – and we’ll do our best to put things right.

How to use less gas and electricity and become more energy efficient

We’ve put together lots of useful information on how to use less energy, cut your bills and lower your carbon footprint in our helpful guides and blogs:

If you’re already an OVO member, you’ll know that we’re a community of people working together against the climate crisis. We’re not just about tariffs and prices – we’re like-minded people, with shared values, on a mission to net zero.  

And we’re human too. If you ever feel that you’re struggling to pay your bills, please call us on 0800 0699 831, and we’ll do our best to help you find a workable, affordable solution. If we don’t know, we can’t help. 

Here’s a quick reminder of the reasons you joined OVO, and why we want to have you with us:

  • 100% renewable electricity as standard2
  • A tree planted in your name every single year you’re with us3
  • Access to OVO Greenlight: free energy-saving tips
  • A 5-Star TrustPilot rating by 30,000 members

Get a quote 

Sources and references:

1 and 4.  Interest Rewards are paid on credit balances of customers paying by monthly Direct Debit. It is calculated at 3% in your first year, 4% in your second year and 5% in your third year (and every year thereafter) if you pay by Direct Debit. Interest Rewards are paid monthly based on the number of days you have a positive balance and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. Full terms apply

2.  100% of the renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.

3.  Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change.

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