How to save energy if you’re on a prepayment meter

Man with young sons looking at book

January is Big Energy Saving Month! We’re working with Citizens Advice Scotland to help people save energy, cut their bills, and get the financial support they’re entitled to.

If you’ve got a prepayment meter and pay for the energy you use upfront, you’ll know how quickly the money can run out. If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with costs, we can help – read on for some top tips, and get in touch if you’d like more advice.

Know your options for switching

Paying for your energy can be more expensive with a prepayment meter and, if you’re paying by topping up a key or card rather than through a mobile app, you’ll be familiar with the frantic dash to the shop before your credit runs out! The good news is you should be able to get your meter changed to a credit meter. This would allow you to get a monthly bill or pay by direct debit, which means you could spread the cost of your energy throughout the year and pay a flat monthly rate. Paying by direct debit can be cheaper than getting a monthly or quarterly bill and can make budgeting easier, because you’ll be paying the same each month. You might pay a bit more in the summer, but you’ll avoid a heftier bill in winter when you’re using more energy.

If you’d like to change to a credit meter, speak to your energy supplier. They’ll check whether there’s any debt on your account and often run a credit check to make sure you’ll be able to manage monthly payments. You might be charged for changing your meter, but many people make this back in the long run through savings on your energy bills. There might be a delay getting the work done because of the coronavirus restrictions, but it’s worth getting in touch with your supplier now to get the ball rolling.

Sticking with prepayment? You could still make savings

Some people prefer to stick with a prepayment meter – you might feel it helps you stay in control of your energy use and how much you’re spending. Most energy suppliers offer prepayment meter tariffs, so it’s still worth checking to see if you could be getting a better deal by switching to a different supplier. We recommend Citizens Advice Scotland’s price comparison tool for this. You might also be able to change to a payment method which suits you better, like topping up using a mobile app instead of going to the shop.

Make sure you’re not wasting energy

If you’re on a prepayment meter, you’ll be very aware of how long your top-ups last and how much energy you’re using at home. Making simple changes can cut your energy use and help your money go further, for example, switching your appliances off at the wall instead of leaving them on standby could save you £35 a year. You could save another £15 by turning lights off when you’re not using them and £25 by using a basin to do the washing up, instead of leaving the tap running – it all adds up!* Check out Energy Saving Trust’s website for more practical quick wins.

Get some advice you can trust

If you’re struggling to keep up with your energy costs, we can help. As well as tips on how to save energy, we can check if you’re eligible for special discounts from energy suppliers or help from the Scottish Government to make your home more energy efficient. We can also help you get a benefits and tax credit check so you’re not missing out on additional income. Give us a call on 0808 808 2282 or leave your details here and we’ll be in touch.

Check out our other Big Energy Saving Month articles:


*Statistics provided by Energy Saving Trust. Assumes a gas price 4.17p/kWh and electricity price 16.36p/kWh. Valid January 2021.