Confused about economy meters? Our guide below explains the differences between Economy 7 and Economy 10 meters, their advantages and disadvantages, how to switch, and whether they are smart meter compatible.
What are Economy 7 and Economy 10 Meters?
Economy 7 or economy 10 refers to types of meters and tariffs, which are sometimes known as heat-wise meters or time-of-use tariffs. These economy tariffs offer customers two prices rates on their electricity at set times of the day. Generally, the electricity prices are higher during the day and cheaper during the night than single rate tariffs.
Economy 7 has seven hours of cheaper electricity during the night-time, usually from midnight to 7 AM.
Economy 10 also has seven hours of cheaper electricity during the night-time but in addition, it offers three hours of cheaper electricity during the afternoon.
Economy meters have two sets of dials or displays, one for the seven or ten hours and the other the remaining hours. Therefore, you can identify economy meters through their display as there are two sets of numbers tracking the electricity usage. You may need to press a button to see the second set of numbers.
Who is Best Suited to Economy 7 or Economy 10?
These tariff types and meters were originally launched in 1978 for homes that are heated by storage heaters. These homes could benefit from the night-time cheap electricity by storing up heat using electricity during the night for heating that could be used during the day.
Currently, there are approximately 3.5 million people with economy meters, but it does not suit everyone, and many people do not use the electricity at the right time of the day to fully benefit from this type of tariff. As a guide you need to use at least 40% of your electricity between midnight and 7 AM, this includes storage heaters and running appliances during this time.
Whether the tariff is best for you depends on your circumstances as the daytime rates are often much higher than other single rate tariffs and if you use energy during the day it can outweigh the benefit of having cheaper night-time rates.
How do I Switch to Economy 7 or Economy 10?
You need to consider carefully if economy tariffs would work for you and save you money.
Many price comparison sites will allow you to search economy tariffs using a split of energy to work out the expected costs on the tariff, you should use this function to compare economy tariffs with single rate electricity tariffs.
To do this accurately you should use your actual energy figures from your electricity bill and then as accurately as possible split up the energy used between daytime and night-time usage (typically midnight to 7 AM).
If you are sure that you want to switch to an economy tariff and have your meter exchanged with an economy meter, you will need to find a supplier who will exchange the meter for you. Some energy suppliers may charge you up to £50 to exchange your meter so it is worth shopping around.
How to Find the Best Economy 7 or Economy 10 Tariff
Price comparison sites are probably the easiest and most convenient way to search for a range of energy suppliers’ tariffs to find the best deal for you. To get the most accurate projection for your energy usage you should use your energy bills to work out how much energy you used over the past year or six months, including the split between day and night-time usage.
Power Compare has a price comparison tool that is accredited by Ofgem and powered by uSwitch that can help you search for the best tariff. We also have a useful guide on switching energy suppliers to help you find the best energy deals.
Can I Have Economy 7 or 10 Meter Removed?
If you decide that an economy tariff is not suitable for your home, you can ask your energy supplier to replace your economy meter with a standard meter or a smart meter on standard tariffs.
Some energy suppliers may charge you for exchanging a meter, which can be up to £50, but if this is the case you could switch suppliers to one that does not charge for exchanging the meter. You would need to check with the supplier before switching that there is no charge for exchanging the meter.
Your energy supplier may offer to exchange your meter to a smart meter as they need to exchange all meters to smart meters by 2020. Have a look at our guide to smart meters for more information.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Economy 7 or 10 Tariffs?
There are many advantages and disadvantages to economy tariffs which vary depending on your circumstances. Below are some of the common pros and cons.
- Great for those using the tariff to its best effect through using as much of their electricity consumption midnight to 7 AM. Using at least 40% of your electricity during the night would offer potential savings against single rate tariffs
- Offers cheaper rates during the night which are good for storage heaters
- Can cost more to run your home during the day as unit charges are higher than single rate tariffs
- May not suit you anymore if your circumstances change and you are home more during the day
- Not as many suppliers offer economy tariffs and therefore there is less choice of tariffs
- Bills can be confusing
- Meter reading is more difficult as you need to read two sets of numbers
Can I Have a Smart Meter on Economy 7 or Economy 10?
Economy 7 or economy 10 customers can switch to a smart meter although not all energy suppliers will be able to offer you a smart meter, so you will need to discuss this with your energy supplier.
Not all energy suppliers are installing smart meters yet and not all have the capability to offer economy tariffs through their smart meters since the second-generation smart meter rollout only began in mid-2018.
Once smart meters are fully rolled out there could be a shift towards more on and off-peak style tariffs as smart meters can provide better data on when energy is being used, and energy suppliers could use this information to offer more innovative and flexible tariffs. This could alter how economy tariffs work and switching between tariff types, such as to and from economy tariffs or prepayment tariffs, will be much similar and there will be no need to change your meter.
If you want to know more about smart meters have a look at our guide to smart meters.