What classes as a utility bills and what can you do if you fall into utility bill arrears? Learn more about managing your household bills.
Utility Bills - Help and Guidance
Getting into utility bill debt is something that can happen easily if not monitored closely. It’s important to know what to do if you find yourself in energy company debt.
What Is Utility Bill Debt?
We all need gas, electricity and water in our homes. Our utilities keep our houses warm and our families comfortable. However, moving house, changing tariffs and unexpected cold weather can often cause our utility bills to rise or go unpaid for longer than we mean them to. This is when we can fall into utility bill debt.
What Can Happen If I Fall into Utility Bill Arrears?
Your gas, electricity and water are considered a “priority debt” since there are serious consequences to not paying them. If you are in utility bill arrears for too long, your utilities may be disconnected leaving you without a gas, electricity or water supply to your home. You may also be required to install a prepayment meter which means that any payments you add will go towards your arrears first.
Initially, your supplier will contact you to let you know that you are behind on your payments. If they fail to recover the money owed to them, they may enlist the help of a debt collection agency or eventually a bailiff. You can find out more about the process of debt collections here.
It is important to contact your supplier as soon as you find yourself in utility bill arrears. Often they can add a repayment plan to your existing monthly payment or come to another agreement with you that will prevent any further action.
What Can I Do To Manage Utility Bills?
To avoid getting into utility bill debt, it is important to manage your bills every month and budget for any unexpected price rises.
- Check your fixed payments
If you pay a fixed amount each month, check that this amount more than covers your expected usage. Don’t forget to allow for unexpected cold weather over winter and an increase in usage of all utilities if the number of people in your household increases.
- Predict price rises
Most utility bill suppliers will raise their prices annually and many will do this with very little notice. Although you can’t predict exactly how much your energy bill will increase, it’s best to give yourself a buffer by budgeting for a price rise.
- Be ready for a final bill
Many people who find themselves in utility bill arrears are those that move home and misplace a final bill or switch suppliers without having budgeted for a final bill. With any change, always take a look at your usage and estimate your final bill so that you can ensure that you have money set aside to pay this as soon as it comes in. When moving home, make sure you send your final meter readings to your supplier and add paying your final bill to your “to-do” list to avoid forgetting in the hustle and bustle of moving.
- Check your tariff
Most people don’t know what tariff they are on and whether there are cheaper alternatives. You may find that you are able to switch to a better deal which will save you money each month.
What Can I Do to Manage Utility Bill Debts?
If you have contacted your energy supplier and they are unwilling to set up a repayment plan or you are being contacted by bailiffs or collection agency, contact Debt Movement today to talk to our friendly and knowledgeable team about the debt solutions that are available to you.
Debt Movement will give friendly and impartial guidance tailored to your financial circumstances. Request a free callback or contact us today!