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Household overpayments let energy companies bank £1.2bn

The survey also found that only 22% of Brits have asked their supplier to refund overpayments with most people (51%) preferring to simply leave the overpayment hoping it will sort itself out over time.

Mark Greening, head of home services at Gocompare.com, said: "According to our survey 62% of households pay for their gas by direct debit and 70% pay for electricity this way. While direct debits are an efficient method of paying household bills, the way suppliers calculate bills can lead to customers paying more than they need to.

"Utility companies estimate the amount of gas and electricity their customers use each year and bill accordingly on either a monthly or quarterly basis.

"If the usage is overestimated a significant surplus can be built up – especially over the summer months when usage of gas and electricity tends to be lighter.

"Many people prefer to leave their ‘summer surplus’ with their utility supplier to cushion higher winter bills,  but householders who find themselves in credit after their winter bills have been paid should ask for their money back and speak to their provider to arrange for their future direct debit payments to be reduced. After all, it’s better to have the extra cash in your bank account than your energy provider’s."

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