Wondering if a change of meter could help you enjoy cheaper gas and electric rates? We’ve put together a quick breakdown of Economy 7 meters and how they could help you make savings on your energy.
What is an Economy 7 meter?
Economy 7 meters are electricity meters (sometimes called e7 meters) that provide you with an easy way to save on your energy bills – providing they suit your lifestyle. Good news if you’re in the market for cheaper gas and electric prices. Economy 7 (also called differential tariffs) is also the name of the tariffs that are on Economy meters.
An Economy 7 meter gives you a seven-hour window, at night, in which you pay a lower rate for your electricity. The different rates run on an Economy 7 meter are often referred to as Day Rate and Night Rate or Rate 1 (R1) and Rate 2 (R2). The idea is that you can run your washing machines, dishwasher and other electrical devices overnight to make some great savings on your electricity.
These plans are particularly good for homes with storage heaters, for example, which allows you to generate and store heat overnight for use the next day – a great way to enjoy cheaper energy. It’s a good idea but obviously works best if you have the right lifestyle or home set-up to run electrical machines at night.
For instance, top floor flats with noisy washing machines might not be the best option. The flip-side is that an Economy 7 plan will charge you considerably more for the energy you use during the ‘peak’ daytime hours, meaning gas and electric prices can end up being higher than you had expected.
How do I know if I have an Economy 7 meter?
The easiest way to find out if you’re on an Economy 7 tariff is to find a recent electricity or dual fuel bill and have a look at your electricity rates.
If you have two different rates — a daytime and a nighttime rate — then you’re probably on an Economy 7 tariff (but it could also be an Economy 10 meter, which works in much the same way).
Economy 7 tariffs also have “02” at the start of their Meter Point Access Number (MPAN) number.
If you’re not sure, the best thing to do is call your supplier – they’ll be able to tell you everything you need to know.
How to read an Economy 7 meter?
If you’ve got an Economy 7 tariff, you’ll one of two types. If it’s an older Economy 7 meter you’ll see both readings on the front.
If it’s a modern Economy 7 meter, it’ll probably show you one or the other on an electronic screen. You’ll have to press a button to switch between your day and night readings.
Is it cost-effective for me to have an Economy 7 meter?
Very few energy providers are actually pushing this type of meter now. One of the key problems is many people are still on Economy 7 when it’s not right for them, meaning they’re not actually enjoying the cheaper energy they had signed up for.
If you’re always up and about at night, do shift work or can happily run several machines through the night, it may be a great option. But think carefully before you commit – as previously mentioned, daytime rates will be high, so you could end up getting larger bills than you were expecting if you don’t make the most of those nighttime rates.
And remember, it’s just for electricity, not for gas. So, if you have gas, a dual fuel or other plans, an Economy 7 meter might give you cheaper gas and electricity prices.
Why is demand for Economy 7 meters falling?
Economy 7’s downfall is that it’s for electricity only. More people have now moved to gas heating systems which tend to be cheaper and more efficient than electric heating. This has meant that demand for Economy 7 tariffs has dramatically reduced.
There are still around 5 million households with Economy 7 meters in the UK, but this number is falling. Economy 7’s reputation has also suffered because many people are still using them, even though they’re not the right fit for them – see our earlier point regarding lifestyle fit.
Daytime rates can be hideously high. So, if you don’t make the most of the cheaper night-time rate, you could end up with huge bills.
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