Get the information you need about energy in your new home with our gas and electricity guides:
What is a power cut?
If the electricity in your home suddenly stops it could mean you are having a power cut. A power cut is an interruption to the energy supply of a single area. It’s usually caused by emergency works in the area, an accident involving infrastructure, or extreme weather. If you experience a power cut in the UK, don’t panic! The average time to be without power is 30-50 minutes, so your electricity should be back on shortly.
You might be tempted to contact your energy supplier if you have a power cut, but the company you pay your bills to will not be able to give you any information. In the UK we buy energy from energy suppliers – British Gas, SSE, Octopus energy, and Bulb are all energy suppliers – but our network is managed by energy distribution network operators (DNOs). Your DNO is the organisation to contact in the event of a power cut, and there’s a single convenient line you can call for help and advice.
How can I tell if there is a power cut in the UK?
If your electric or gas supply stops suddenly, it might not be because of a power cut. The first thing to confirm is if the problem is only at your property. Check if the power is out in all the circuits in your home by checking the sockets and lights in every room. Look outside to see if your neighbours have their lights on, or call any local friends to check. If there is a power cut, the homes closest to you will also be affected.
If you’re unsure, energy network operators display the power cuts that they’re tracking on their website. You can find out who the DNO is for your area and how to get to their website here.
Who should I call when there’s a power cut in the UK?
The support line for a power cut in the UK is 105. This will connect you directly to your local DNO. You can inform them of the problem, and they should be able to estimate how long you will be without power. This is also the line to call if you see anything dangerous related to the power network, such as cables that have come down.
If you are having a gas emergency, such as a smell of gas in your home, you should call 0800 111999.
How can I prepare for a power cut?
It’s a good idea to have an easily accessible place in your home for emergency supplies. Set aside candles, matches, a torch and a power bank so you’re not left fumbling in the dark.
A power cut won’t affect your gas supply, but if you have electric heating you can include hand warmers in this emergency drawer. If the weather’s hot, you can keep the freezer stocked with ice packs and move food from your fridge to a cool box to keep it from spoiling.
If you have medical equipment that won’t run without power or another accessibility need then consider signing up for your supplier’s ‘priority service register’. This is a registry of households that would be more vulnerable in the event of a power cut. Homes on this register are given advanced notice of planned power cuts and priority support in an emergency, as well as situation-specific support depending on your needs. You can learn more about the register and what support is available here.
What should I do if it isn’t a power cut?
If you lose power in your home but it isn’t a power cut, for example, if your neighbours still have energy, there are a few things to check. First, make sure a fuse hasn’t been tripped. If an electrical surge could cause damage to your home, your fuse box will instead trip a fuse, closing a particular circuit to protect it. Check your fuse box to make sure all the switches are facing the same way as the master fuse. If any fuses have tripped, flip them back and your power will be restored.
If your fuses are fine but you have no power, speak with your landlord or property manager about the issue. Your energy supplier should never disconnect you without notice, so it is more likely that work being done at your or a neighbour’s property has interrupted your supply. If your property manager does not know why you are without power they will be able to arrange an electrician to visit and inspect the property for faults.
The exception is if you have pre-payment meters installed. If you run out of credit on your pre-pay meters the gas and electricity to your property will be paused until you add more credit. Most suppliers have a small emergency allowance as well. You can usually add credit online or through your supplier’s app, but some older model meters may require you to add credit to a key in person at a local business. The details of your meters, and how you can top-up, will be included in your move-in inventory and in your online energy accounts.