Brits Have Been Stuck In The Dark For Too Long

  • 40% of Britain’s pay-as-you-go energy customers have been left without electricity overnight, thanks to top-up shops being closed

  • Almost a quarter have been left feeling powerless, when they’ve been caught in the dark on the loo or in the shower

  • The brand new Smart PAYG+ app from OVO Energy ends the need for key card top-up in shops


Almost half (40%) of PAYG energy users have been stuck home in darkness at least once, because the local shop has been shut and they’ve been unable to top-up on power. Over 40% have had a home cooked meal ruined, with the same number only realising they’re without power when they wake from a night’s sleep to find their freezer defrosted, no hot water, and no power to get ready. Over a third (36%) have missed an important sporting moment, or the ending of a film, after the meter unexpectedly ran out mid-way through.


Research released today has revealed the most common frustrating situations pay-as-you-go (PAYG) energy customers can find themselves in, when it comes to an unexpected lack of energy in the home.17% have experienced being stuck in a very sticky situation, when they’ve been in the shower or bath when the lights have gone out. A very unlucky 5% have even been left in the dark whilst on the toilet.

The five most irritating situations customers have been left in, when caught without energy:

  • Making a meal (39%)

  • Missed ending of a significant sporting moment or film (36%)

  • Just about to go to bed (26%)

  • Stuck on the loo or in the shower (22%)

  • Getting ready to go out on the town (10%)


The stress doesn’t stop when they get to the shop in all states of disarray, with 35% of users saying that waiting around and queuing is a huge frustration and waste of time.  


The research was commissioned by OVO Energy to coincide with the launch of Smart PAYG+, the first energy pay-as-you-go top-up service that enables energy top-ups with the tap of an app on a mobile phone.  Users can also check their balance and see their energy usage at a glance.


Justin Cockerill, Managing Director of OVO Smart PAYG+ said: “From being forced to make top-up trips at the most inconvenient times, to household emergencies due to energy suddenly running out, pre-payment energy customers have endured a rough ride from the industry. With PAYG+ these frustrating and time wasting situations are no more! We’re putting the power into the customers' hands and giving them unprecedented control and convenience over the cheapest possible energy supply.”


The research also unveiled that the average pay-as-you-go user tops up on energy 3.54 times a month, with each trip to the shops taking 16 minutes. The time spent on these repeated trips adds up to 10.8 hours per year or 28 days in an average lifetime. This time could instead be spent on:

  • Attending 480 football matches  

  • Watching every episode of Friends 8.5 times

  • Visiting all of the UK’s major cities

  • Learning a European language to an intermediate level

  • Running 130 marathons


The research has also unveiled that the time wasted on topping-up in shops could instead be spent on earning up to £150 a year, or an impressive £7,350 in an average working lifetime. This additional money could be spent on the following:

  • A round-the-world trip

  • Playing the National Lottery 3,675 times

  • Saving enough money to buy two years of food shopping for a family of four

  • Buying 15,000 pints of milk

  • A lifetime’s supply of toilet roll


Professor Adele H Marshall, Statistician and Director of Research at Queen’s University Belfast, who analysed the findings, commented: “It’s proven that creating free time during the year to do things we enjoy makes people happier in life, so OVO Smart PAYG+ is very welcome for some 11million pre-pay energy users in the UK, helping them save a staggering month of their life. Not only will it help put an end to all kinds of stressful and inconvenient situations but having more spare time gives people a higher quality of life overall.”  

For support or independent advice on energy suppliers visit For further information on OVO Energy PAYG+ visit

O​VO​ Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879

Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3-5% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.


1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount.  All rates correct as of 20/3/2018, but may go up or down.

2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas).  All rates correct as of 22/11/2017, but may go up or down.

3Pay Monthly Savings claims: Saving based on the estimated annual cost of Simpler tariff for a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying monthly in advance by direct debit, including online discount. Comparisons made against the average of the Big 6 standard variable tariffs with equivalent features. All rates correct as of 20/3/2018.“The Big 6” are British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, Npower, E.ON and EDF.

4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location. 

We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.

33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.

OVO Interest Rewards: 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’re in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. Full terms apply:

95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Savings based on the average estimated annual costs for all new OVO customers quoted through the OVO website, compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/05/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT.

94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.

uSwitch's Energy Supplier of the Year 2017: OVO energy was voted and awarded  'Energy Supplier of the year' and best for: Overall Customer Satisfaction, Most Likely to be Recommended, Value for Money, Best Deal for You, Customer Service, Billing Services, Energy Efficiency, Meter Services, Online Services, Green Services and Transfer Process. OVO Energy scored a 96% customer satisfaction score.

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