Energy: what to do if you have difficulties paying your electricity or gas bill?

Energy: what to do if you have difficulties paying your electricity or gas bill?

the essential
With energy prices on the rise, more and more households are struggling to pay their bills. What to do if you find yourself in this situation? the midi office Make the point.

If you are worried about the impossibility of paying your gas or electricity bill after very significant price increases, there are solutions.

for individuals

Compare energy providers

First reflection: “If you are with a provider that offers contracts with prices indexed to the markets, which have increased very strongly in recent times, it is worth comparing to change the offer,” advises Caroline Keller, head of the information and communication service of the National Energy Defender. A comparator has also been created on her website.

Contact your energy provider

In case of payment difficulties, contact your provider by post, email or through an online form. He will be able to identify possible solutions and possibly give you a payment schedule. You can also check if your contract is suitable.

Find out about the aid

You can also contact the social services of your department or your municipality (Community Center for Social Action). They will inform you about the different forms of help available and about the conditions and the steps to follow to benefit from them.

  • A social worker can contact your provider’s social center to get a payment schedule.
  • Check your eligibility for power control on the platform created by the government. This aid is granted to all households whose reference tax income (RFR) per unit of consumption is less than 10,800 euros. Please note that eligible individuals do not have to do anything.
  • In case of lasting difficulties, a social worker can help you file a file with the Housing Solidarity Fund (FSL), to pay part of your bill. In other words, if you have submitted a file, your supply of electricity and/or natural gas is maintained until the FSL has issued its conclusions (within a maximum period of 2 months).
  • If you are a beneficiary of the Family Allowances Fund (CAF), the Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA), a pension fund or a complementary pension fund, apply for it. These funds develop social action measures in favor of their beneficiaries in difficulties.
  • Depending on your situation and your possibilities, charities such as Secours Catholique or the French Red Cross may be able to help you financially and/or support you in your efforts.
  • Also approach the Budget Advice Points (PCB). These reception structures are intended to support anyone who is facing budgetary difficulties and who needs support.

Pay attention to the fees

Some providers may charge late fees. “They are not necessarily very high, but that can accentuate your economic problems. The minimum is €7.50 for an individual”, says Caroline Keller. Charges will also apply in the event of an interruption or reduction in energy supply. “In general, €55 is needed.

for professionals

Companies are less protected than individuals. First of all, winter holidays do not exist. “The period between the delay in payment and the cut is not framed by a decree. In general, between the time the bill is due and the time the provider can cut off, it’s usually a little over a month. It depends on the provisions of the contract.

As with individuals, companies can contact their provider to try to get a payment schedule. “They can also see if a professional union can help them.”

For the companies that consume the most energy, state aid has been launched. “These are companies whose gas and electricity purchases represented at least 3% of their billing in 2021.”

Last element: the business ombudsman can intervene if payment difficulties follow a sharp rise in energy prices.

Also read:
Unpaid energy bills: after how long can the provider cut back?

What are the consequences in case of non-payment of invoices?

During the winter break that applies from 1Ahem From November to March 31, even if you don’t pay your bills, electricity and gas are maintained. However, your provider may reduce the power of your electricity meter, unless you benefit from energy control.

“In the event of a reduction in electricity, people will have electricity, they will be able to use the refrigerator, recharge their mobile phone, but on the other hand they will no longer be able to heat up or run their hot water tank. it is a protection but it is not complete”, explains Caroline Keller.

Beyond these winter breaks, gas and electricity may be shut off. “However, certain providers, notably EDF, have committed not to cut off electricity to their customers throughout the year, but to limit power.”

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