What to do if you get a back bill

Find out if you're covered by our back billing rules, and how to complain to your supplier if you’ve received a bill in error.

If your gas or electricity supplier believes you have not been accurately billed for energy you’ve used, they may send you a back bill.

These bills are sometimes called ‘catch up’ bills, and are intended to cover a period where you’ve used energy but have not been charged for it.

If you get one of these from your supplier, check whether you’re protected by our back billing rules before deciding what to do next.

Our back billing rules

These rules set out when a supplier can charge you for any shortfalls in payment for energy you’ve used.

You cannot be charged for energy used more than 12 months ago if:

  • you have not had an accurate bill for it before, even though you asked for one
  • you have not been informed about any charges due via a statement of account before
  • your Direct Debit amount was previously set too low to cover any charges due

Suppliers must make these rules clear in their contract terms and conditions.

The rules apply to domestic energy consumers and microbusinesses.

If you get a back bill from your energy supplier

If you are protected by our back billing rules, contact your supplier and let them know. They should refund any money taken in error, which could be all or part of the bill.

You’ll find your supplier’s contact details on their website, or on your energy bills.

If you want to write to them or send them an email, you can use the Citizens Advice back billing example letter.

You can complain about your energy supplier if they continue to ask for payment for a period covered by our back billing rules.

Acting unreasonably

The rules do not apply if you have acted unreasonably by:

  • stopping your supplier from billing you accurately, for example by blocking access to your meter
  • ignoring requests for payment from your supplier
  • stealing electricity or gas

Paying a back bill

You are responsible for paying for the energy you have used in any period not covered by the back billing rules.

If you’re worried about being able to pay, take a look at the help and support options available if you cannot afford your energy bills.

How to help make sure your energy bills are accurate

The best way to avoid getting a back bill is to make sure you receive regular, accurate bills from your supplier.

Get a smart meter

Think about getting a smart meter.

Since smart meters send readings directly to your supplier, your bills should be timely and more accurate.

You will not have to submit meter readings yourself, and should not receive any estimated bills that may result in more charges in future.

Double check all your bills

Make sure the bills you get accurately reflect the energy you’ve used. If you think there’s something wrong with your bill, for example if you’ve been undercharged, contact your supplier right away.

If you’re not sure what to look for, get help to understand your electricity and gas bills.

You should also contact your supplier to let them know if you do not receive a bill for energy you’ve used.

Give regular meter readings

If you do not have a smart meter, make sure to give your supplier regular meter readings.

This will help make sure you’ll only be charged for energy you’ve used. It should also reduce your chances of getting an estimated bill.

Keep in touch with your supplier

You must let your supplier know about anything that may affect your bills as soon as you can, for example if you move in or out of a new property, of if your meter is damaged.