Whenever the power goes off at home, it always seems to be when you’re in the middle of something important. You’re doing the ironing or turning your hair straighteners on and everything suddenly goes dark.
This might be a nightmare but usually your power comes back on again in a few minutes. But what if there’s no electricity for hours or the lights keep flickering on and off for the next few days? Will you be able to get any compensation from your energy distributor for this? Let’s find out.
When you can claim
You can get compensation if your electricity goes off, but this isn’t for every power cut. You don’t claim from your energy supplier though – you’ll claim from the ‘electricity distribution company’.
The electricity distribution company owns the cables that provide electricity to your house. If there’s a power cut, it’s their responsibility, not your supplier.
Whether or not you can claim depends on how long the power was out for and it was a planned power cut or not. If it was a planned power cut, the electricity distribution company has to warn you that the electricity is going off two days before this happens. You can claim if they don’t do this.
But if it wasn’t a planned power cut, it will depend on how many homes it affected and why the electricity went off. For example, you could get more if bad weather knocked the power out – we’ll take you through compensation amounts below.
How much can you get?
For planned power cuts that you didn’t know about, you’re entitled to £30. You’ll also get this if your electricity distribution company told you about a power cut but they gave you the wrong day. You need to claim this from your electricity distribution company within one month.
If it was an unplanned power cut that wasn’t due to bad weather and it affected less than 5,000 homes, you’ll get £75 if the power was out for at least 12 hours. For every following period of 12 hours without power, you’ll get £35.
You can get the same amount if the power cut affected more than 5,000 homes, but the maximum amount of compensation is £300.
For unplanned power cuts due to bad weather, it doesn’t matter how many properties the outage affected. You’ll get £70 for the first 24 the power’s out or 48 hours if it’s a really bad storm. For every 12-hour period after this, you’ll get another £70 – the maximum you can get is £700.
If your power goes off more than four times in one year for more than three hours each time, you could get an extra £75 for this. The electricity distribution companies count a year from 31 March to 1 April.
One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t get any extra compensation for any financial loss from the power cut. So if your freezer defrosted and you had to throw away your food, you wouldn’t get anything to cover this.