The amount of money that households collectively owe to their energy suppliers has doubled in the past year to reach £1 billion, with a quarter (23%) of consumers now in energy debt, according to new research from Uswitch.com, the comparison and switching service.
The number of households in debt to their supplier has risen by half (52%) compared to this time last year, with six million homes now owing an average of £188 to their energy provider. The amount of households in debt is more than two million higher than at any point in the last four years, and the average debt is 54% higher than it was in 2019.
The average amount owed is £58 more than this time last year, leaving many without a war chest to battle rising bills.
At the same time, almost 11 million households have a collective £1.4 billion in credit balances with their supplier, making them better prepared for the expected price hikes in the autumn. However, the overall figure is £500 million lower than last year, which suggests that rising prices have made it more difficult for people to build up a nest egg of credit.
Nearly two in five households (38%) are in credit with their supplier, a decrease of almost a fifth (18%) compared to last year. The average amount of credit is £135, but more than one million consumers have over £300 credit with their supplier.
Of the biggest energy providers, Octopus Energy has the largest proportion of customers in debt (33%), OVO has the most in credit (50%), while EDF has the highest proportion of customers with neither debt or credit (39%).