COVID-19 Help and Advice
Prepayment meter customers
PAYG meters in Northern Ireland don’t have the functionality to top up remotely or online. The only way to add credit is by topping up your card at a PayPoint outlet and transferring the top-up by inserting the card into your meter. To help ensure your energy supply isn't affected you could consider taking the following steps.
- Consider topping up your meter frequently to ensure it always has credit. For information, the maximum single top-up amount is £49
- Find a top up buddy. Make a list of trusted neighbours, friends and family who live nearby, and can top up your card if you cannot leave your home. You may wish to contact a local charity, neighbourhood or community organisation who have volunteers ready to help. If you have no one to help you contact us and we will try to assist you.
- If you decide to nominate a family member, friend or person to help, give them your meter box key and top-up card so they can access the meter if it's outside.
- firmus energy customers can top up in any PayPoint outlet. A list of PayPoint Outlets are available at https://consumer.paypoint.com/
- If your prepayment meter is no longer suitable to your needs, your meter may be able to be moved or exchanged to a credit meter. Note there may be a charge for this work.
- For more detail see our Code of Practice on Services for Prepayment Meter Customers*
Annual Meter Inspection
At the time of writing, we have resumed our meter inspection and reading activities. This is to ensure they are safe for use and are functioning correctly. firmus energy conducts meter inspections once a year dependant on accessibility. It only takes a couple of minutes. If you see our friendly meter inspectors out and about we ask you to stand at least 2m back.
In the interests of mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19, firmus energy has taken the decision to postpone all domestic internal meter reading. We apologise for any inconvenience, and in the interim we will provide you with an estimated quarterly bill in-line with your billing cycle.
If you have an online account with us, you can access your account to regularly submit your meter reads, to ensure the accuracy of your bills.
If you have a credit meter, and wish to set up an online account, all we require is an active email address. Please visit our website accounts.firmusenergy.co.uk/register.php to register today. You can also submit your meter reads by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, if you’re a domestic customer and your meter is located outside our meter readers will continue to call as normal.
Meter reading inside commercial premises will continue, and our meter readers will seek permission prior to entering.
firmuscare offers a range of benefits for customers of pensionable age, who are chronically ill or registered disabled. The benefits of the scheme may include moving or exchanging your meter, an annual boiler inspection and bill nominee service. Full details are available on request and are outlined in our Code of Practice on the Provision of Services for Customers of Pensionable Age, Chronically Sick or Disabled*. If you think you might benefit from this service please visit firmusenergy.co.uk/firmuscare or call our team for more information.
Difficulty Paying for your Energy
We understand at this time some people may find themselves in unexpected financial difficulty. There are many organisations who may be able to help you. Contact details of free, impartial debt advice bodies are available below.
If you are concerned about paying your natural gas bill, we will do our best to help. Get in touch with our credit control team on 0330 024 9000. We will work with you to come to a suitable arrangement which might include a repayment plan to spread your bills over a period of time. We will work with you to agree an amount you are able to pay, taking into account your individual circumstances. We will be flexible and work with you to try to find solutions.
If you’re already on a debt repayment plan, we might be able to adjust this in line with your circumstances. Our Code of Practice on Payment of Bills* outlines the actions we can take to help domestic energy customers with their energy bills and avoid/manage potential debt.
Natural gas is an efficient way to heat your home and provide hot water, but being at home more often might mean you are using more energy. Below are some energy saving tips. You may also wish to read our Code of Practice on the Efficient Use of Energy*:
- Turn your thermostat down – a small temperature change makes a big difference to cost
- Adjust your heating schedule for your new routine
- Only heat water as you need it
- Check your taps for any leaks
NI Energy Advice provides free and impartial advice. You can call them on 0800 111 4455
External organisations that might be able to provide further help are listed below.
|Address||Contact / for more information|
|The Consumer Council||Floor 3, Seatem House, 28-32 Alfred Street, Belfast BT2 8EN||
Freephone: 0800 121 6022
|Department for Communities||Causeway Exchange 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG||Freephone helpline - 0808 802 0020, email email@example.com or text ACTION to 81025, adviceni.net/advice|
Forestview, Purdy’s Lane, Newtownbreda, Belfast, BT8 4AR
0800 028 1881
Age NI at Advice & Advocacy Service
|3 Lower Crescent, Belfast BT7 1NR||
Freephone: 0808 808 7575
Action Mental Health
27 Jubilee Road, Newtownards Co Down, BT23 4YH
Telephone 028 9182 8494
|120 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5HT||
Medical customer care register
Northern Ireland Water
|Westland House, 40 Old Westland Rd, Belfast BT14 6TE||
Customer Care Register
visit GOV.UK for support
Complaints - firmus energy takes complaints seriously. Our Code of Practice on Complaints Handling* outlines how we will deal with your complaint and the standards of service you can expect from us. If you have a complaint and we cannot resolve it, you can bring this to the Consumer Council who will investigate your complaint on your behalf and at no cost. This does not affect your statutory rights to go to court if you deem the solution unsatisfactory.
*Codes of Practice listed are available on request from our customer services team and on our website at firmusenergy.co.uk/publications
We would like to reassure customers that there is no impact to the gas supply in Northern Ireland. We are working hard to maintain services at this time. We recognise some of our customers are affected and are required to stay indoors and self-isolate.
If you smell gas it’s really important to contact the 24hr NI Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 002 001.
Our engineers are on duty and ready to respond to emergencies.
We are 100% committed to maintaining the safety and comfort of both customers and staff in line with Public Health recommendations on COVID-19 and guidance from the NI Executive. This will require an adjustment in how we respond to customers’ needs. As such we will be including extra safety precautions to our normal operational practices.
If you contact the NI Gas Emergency Service number, 0800 002 001 we’ll ask you if:
- You or anyone in your home has been diagnosed with Covid-19
- You or anyone in your home is self-isolating on medical advice or following contact with someone who has the virus?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions, we’ll work with you to assess your need for an engineer visit before deciding what to do next.
If the answer to either of these questions is ‘yes’ and you require essential works or an emergency response we will need to take the following measures so that we can keep you, our colleagues and other people safe:
If you have answered yes to the above question and we need to visit your home, we will need to ask you some additional questions?
- We will ask that the people and pets in the property stay in a separate room from the engineer while they carry out essential work or safety checks. For example, stay in a room where there are no gas appliances or the gas meter.
- Please open the windows in the room where the engineer will be working.
- Our engineer will wear protective clothing, including gloves and a mask, as a precaution.
- Once our engineer has finished and leaves, they will remove the gloves, dispose of them safely and then thoroughly clean their hands before going to the next property.
Questions & Answers
Q. Can I still apply for a new gas connection?
Absolutely! Contact our Customer Service team on 0330 024 9000. We are prioritising customers with urgent connection needs at this time but will plan in and undertake all other connection requests in line with our current programme of works.
Q. What plans do you have in place to minimise the impact to Covid 19 to your business?
firmus energy has emergency plans in place that look at what we need to do in a variety of different incident situations and scenarios. These plans are tested rigorously to ensure the safety of customers, staff and the public and to make sure service standards are upheld.
Q. Will you still be providing a gas emergency response service at this time?
Our engineers are on duty and ready to respond to emergencies. We will attend gas emergencies and make them safe, whether a person at home has coronavirus or not. All safety precautions will be followed.
Q. How do I know the person who comes to my door is a representative from firmus energy?
A QuickCheck scheme exists to provide reassurance to the public about callers to their door claiming to be from utility companies. If you are concerned about the identity of someone at your door, you can call the non-emergency number ‘101’ where you will be given the option of going through the ‘QuickCheck’ facility to check the caller is who they say they are.
Q. Are you undertaking planned maintenance?
In order to protect our customers, colleagues and communities and in line with Government advice, we are contacting some customers to postpone upcoming maintenance work. There will be no impact to the operation of natural gas meters as a result of the postponement of these works and new appointments will be arranged and communicated
- A bespoke website has been created to provide a one stop support hub for natural gas customers across a range of areas including Codes of Practice, Payment and Meter support, Energy Bill Support; Energy Efficiency , Energy Care Scheme Benefits and Criteria as well as additional support services. Please visit www.naturalgasni.com to find out more
- If you need community support you can call The Department of Communities COVID Freephone community helpline 0808 802 0020 between 9am and 5pm seven days a week and view online here www.communities-ni.gov.uk or through NIEN on 0345 764 3643.
- General advice from the Consumer Council is available here www.consumercouncil.org.uk/coronavirus
- Advice from NI Direct is available here Local COVID-19 information
- Advice from NHS is available here www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- Advice for landlords is available www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/covid-19-frequently-asked-health-and-safety-questions
- If you are struggling financially please visit GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus to see what employment and financial support is available.
- Age NI: 0808 808 7575
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The response time for reply to your query is 24 hours (Excluding weekends and Bank Holidays).
If you have an Urgent Query, please contact our customer services team on: 0330 024 9000