Wondering if you’ll be able to save money on energy bills in your new property with an Economy 7 meter? Find out here.
An Economy 7 meter provides a type of electricity tariff that offers a cheaper rate at night and a more expensive one in the daytime. This guide explains everything you need to know about an Economy 7 meter and whether it can save you on your electricity bills.
What is an Economy 7 meter?
An Economy 7 meter works in conjunction with an Economy 7 tariff to track your electricity usage in the daytime and nighttime separately, charging a cheaper cost per kWh during off-peak hours.
The off-peak hours are at night and usually run from midnight to 7am – a total of 7 hours, which is where Economy 7 gets its name.
Some Economy 7 tariffs run from 11pm to 6am, or 1am to 8am.
Why pay more than your neighbours for the same energy? Compare deals now
If you’re moving to a new home, you might want to check if it already has an Economy 7 meter. You should also do some energy-efficiency checks to help you save, which you can learn more about in our guide: '10 energy efficiency-checks to make on a property viewing'.
How does an Economy 7 meter work?
An Economy 7 meter usually only works with an Economy 7 electricity tariff. So, if you have one, it’s almost certain you have an Economy 7 tariff too.
But while Economy 7 prices during the off-peak hours (usually between midnight and 7am) tend to be cheaper than normal electricity tariffs, the peak hours (usually from 7am to midnight) tend to be more expensive than standard tariffs.
That’s why an Economy 7 meter often works best in households with a storage heater – as these can be timed to draw most of your electricity during the nighttime off-peak hours. They then provide energy throughout the day as and when you need it.
Using an Economy 7 meter in conjunction with a storage heater will usually make your electricity cheaper than on most standard tariffs. But it's not for everyone because the day rates are so expensive and this kind of usage can be difficult to match up with the standard household lifestyle.
Before moving into your new home you will need to figure out if an Economy 7 would fit your lifestyle and the way you use electricity normally (see ‘How to get cheap energy with Economy 7’ below to help you do this).
Is an Economy 7 meter cheaper?
Compared to homes with standard electricity tariffs, a household with an Economy 7 meter will have much cheaper bills, providing it operates its electricity at night during off-peak hours.
However, for most households it's highly uncommon to use electricity in this way.
As a result, most people do not save money with an Economy 7 meter.
If you use most of your electricity in the daytime, then Economy 7 will cost you much more than it would if you were signed up to any other standard electricity tariff.
However, if used very specifically then Economy 7 can be cheaper than most tariffs.
You can see the latest Economy 7 tariffs using the uSwitch energy comparison service.
How to get cheap energy with Economy 7
There are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the best possible deal on your Economy 7 meter's tariff:
1. Use storage heaters
In most cases, an Economy 7 meter isn't worth it if you don't use storage heaters. Storage heaters use up plenty of electricity, but they store heat to be used later and if you use them at night on an Economy 7 meter then it will be much cheaper to operate.
You can then use that energy to heat your home throughout the day or whenever you need it most without being charged the more expensive peak rate.
2. Calculate how much electricity you use at night
You’ll need to use around 40% of your electricity during the off-peak hours for an Economy 7 meter to make sense for you.
The daytime rates on an Economy 7 tariff can sometimes be as much as twice the price of a standard electricity tariff, so you want to make sure you're making the most of these cheaper nighttime rates.
See 'How do I calculate my off-peak electricity usage?' below for an explanation on how to do the sums.
3. If you have a hot water tank, set it to start in the off-peak hours
Economy 7 works best if you have a hot water tank as well as a storage heater – and if you run as much of your home on electricity, rather than gas, as possible. If you can time your hot water tank to run during the off-peak hours then you could save big on your electricity bills.
See our guide, '7 ways to keep a lid on your water bills', to see how else you can save on your household bills.
4. Run your dishwasher, tumble dryer and washing machine at night
Many of your household appliances will have a timer function, so you should set them all to run at night. The downside is, this could get very noisy after midnight.
5. Match it up with your lifestyle and your home
If you run your hot water tank at night, then you'll need to use most of your hot water in the morning, otherwise you'll find it cooling down in the evening.
Ask yourself if this matches up with your lifestyle before committing to an Economy 7 meter. If it doesn't, then Economy 7 probably isn't right for you.
For Economy 7 to make financial sense your new home should primarily run on electricity in conjunction with storage heaters. If you heat your home with gas, then you still need to make sure you're using the bulk of your electricity at night.
How do you use storage heaters?
With an Economy 7 meter, you would time the storage heater to draw in energy at night when your electricity prices are cheapest, and then use the heat throughout the day.
You should almost always use storage heaters with an Economy 7 meter as it uses more electricity and is far less efficient than using a gas boiler for your heating.
A storage heater draws electricity over a few hours and retains the heat to be used later.
How do I calculate my off-peak electricity usage?
You can calculate how efficient your Economy 7 usage is by multiplying your kWh usage at night by 100 and dividing this against your total kWh usage.
Follow these steps to calculate your off-peak electricity usage:
1. Check your Economy 7 electricity bill
An Economy 7 meter takes two separate readings – of your daytime and nighttime usage – so you should be able to see it split this way on your bill. Look for the number next to the kWh (kilowatt hour) to see how much electricity was used.
2. Check the split between daytime and nighttime
For the billing period, you should see your kWh usage for daytime and nighttime.
3. Calculate the proportion of energy used at night
For example, if you used 532kWh at night and 1,229kWh in the daytime, your total usage would be 1,761kWh.
Multiply 532 (your night time usage) by 100 to get 53,200. Divide this figure against the total usage, which is 1761, and you will get 30.2. This figure is the percentage of energy you use at night.
Now bear in mind that Economy 7 is most efficient when you use around 40% of your electricity during the night, so it's useful to check your percentage and see if you need to switch to a standard meter.
Do I have an Economy 7 meter?
The best way to tell if you have an Economy 7 meter is to simply check your latest electricity/dual fuel bill and take a look at the electricity rates.
An Economy 7 meter takes two separate readings, so if you see your electricity usage on your bill split in two then it's probably because of that.
An Economy 10 meter works much in the same way (see below 'What's an Economy 10 meter?' for more information), but instead of providing 7 hours of off-peak electricity rates, it provides 10.
You'll also find your Meter Point Access Number (MPAN) on your electricity bill. If it begins with the numbers '02' then that should confirm you're on Economy 7.
If you don't have an electricity bill available, then take a look at your electricity meter. An Economy 7 meter will display two sets of numbers: 'normal' and 'low' or alternatively, just one marked 'day rate' which then says 'night rate' when you press the red button.
If you're still not sure if your meter is an Economy 7, call your electricity supplier and check with them.
What's an Economy 10 meter?
An Economy 10 meter and tariff is much like the Economy 7, offering separate off-peak and peak readings, but – as the name promises – it provides 10 hours of the cheaper rate, instead of 7.
However, most tariffs on an Economy 10 meter provide the 10 hours over three separate periods in the day so that your off-peak rates are spread out a bit more than the nighttime-only Economy 7.
The Economy 10 off-peak rates are usually split into three periods:
* 5 hours between midnight and 5am
* 3 hours between midday and 3pm
* 2 hours between 5pm and 7pm
Economy 10 usually only works well if you have a storage heater and you time your electricity usage carefully.
It's even less common than an Economy 7 meter, so you will have a hard time comparing deals. If you want to switch to an Economy 10 meter it's best to speak direct to your electricity supplier.
What is the standard tariff with an Economy 7 meter?<s/trong>
The standard tariff with an Economy 7 meter is an Economy 7 tariff. In fact, it is almost always the only electricity tariff that you can get with an Economy 7 meter.
If your new home has an Economy 7 meter installed but you don’t want an Economy 7 tariff, speak directly to your supplier to see if they can switch you, but they’ll most likely charge you to install a new meter.
This means that your meter reads your nighttime and daytime usage separately and gives you cheaper rates at night and more expensive rates in the day.
Where do I get an Economy 7 meter?
If you want to switch to an Economy 7 tariff then you'll need the meter, which you can get directly from the supplier – they will usually handle the installation for free or for a nominal fee.
Energy suppliers are not pushing Economy 7 meters as much as before, mainly they’re not as popular compared to standard energy meters.
As a result, you may find fewer Economy 7 meter suppliers to choose from than if you were seeking any other standard electricity tariff.
Switch to an Economy 7 supplier
We've partnered with uSwitch to help you switch your gas and electricity tariffs and find an Economy 7 supplier.
If you want to compare Economy 7 tariffs, follow these simple steps:
1. Enter your postcode and email on the uSwitch gas and electricity comparison page and start comparing deals
2. Select "yes" when asked if you have Economy 7 (even if you don't)
3. When it asks you for your supplier, pick any from the list (it doesn't matter which one)
4. Input your current electricity usage and provide your best guess of the percentage that you use at night
5. uSwitch will show you the cheapest Economy 7 suppliers and tariffs to switch to
6. Contact the supplier directly and ask it to switch you to Economy 7
How do I switch from an Economy 7 meter?
In order to switch from an Economy 7 meter to a standard electricity tariff you will need to contact your supplier directly.
This is because you will likely need to fulfill some of their criteria for switching away from an Economy 7.
You will most likely need a new meter installed, which your supplier will arrange, but will probably charge you for. In some cases, you may be able to continue using your Economy 7 meter for a different kind of tariff, but your supplier will have to confirm this for you.
To see what electricity tariffs are available on the market use uSwitch's free comparison service.
Who installs it and what are the set-up costs?
In order to switch to an Economy 7 tariff you will need to have the Economy 7 meter installed so that it can calculate the peak and off-peak usage.
In most cases your supplier will install the meter for free or for a very low fee.
Economy 7 meters versus smart meters
A smart meter tracks your energy usage and sends it to your supplier. These meters can help you understand your usage better and know what time of day you use the most energy.
Although you can't compare an Economy 7 with a smart meter, the innovations in technology means that suppliers could start to offer more tailored energy deals to suit your energy usage.
Learn more about smart meters in our guide to help you decide if you should get one in your new home.
A smart meter has no direct cost and is installed by your energy supplier. If you are thinking of switching to an Economy 7 meter you might be better off getting a smart meter installed first to see how much of your energy is used at night.
By 2020, every UK customer should have been offered a free smart meter by their energy supplier.
We've partnered with uSwitch to help you compare energy deals and save money on your household bills.
Why pay more than your neighbours for the same energy? Compare deals now
You may also be interested in…
- Should you get a smart meter in your new home? - A new home means new beginnings – but does this stretch as far as a smart meter? Find out about the pros and cons of the devices here.
- Moving house and your energy supply - Money is extra tight when you are moving – which makes it even more frustrating to be paying over-the-odds for your gas and electricity.
- 10 energy-efficient checks to make on a property viewing - Energy bills are one of life’s biggest outgoings. So, understanding how energy-efficient a new home is before committing to it, is important.