Economy 7 tariffs offer one tariff during the day and cheaper electricity at night, but how do they work, and are they right for you?
What is Economy 7 and how does it work?
Economy 7, a kind of electricity tariff, means that you pay a different price for your electricity at different times of day. With an Economy 7 electricity tariff, the electricity you use at night costs less than the electricity you use during the day - a bit like peak and off-peak phone calls.
It's called Economy 7 because you get cheaper electricity for 7 hours each night. Economy 7 tariffs use a different kind of electricity meter, which, unlike a standard meter, can track the electricity you use during the day and at night separately.
How do I know if I have Economy 7 tariff?
If you're unsure as to whether or not you have Economy 7, take a look at your electricity bill. If you have two different rates, one for night and one for day, then you have Economy 7.
The Meter Point Access Number (MPAN) on your bill will also start with '02' if you have Economy 7. Find out where you can locate this information with our guide to understanding your energy bill.
If you don't have a bill available, look at your meter. If you have Economy 7, your electricity meter will have two sets of numbers - one marked 'low' and one marked 'normal'. (Please note, your meter might not look exactly like the one in our picture).
Alternatively, there may be one set of numbers marked 'day rate', and a red button, which you press to get your night reading.
If you are in any doubt, call your electricity company and check with them.
How do I switch to or from Economy 7?
Switching to Economy 7
If you don't have Economy 7 but would like to switch to it you will need to have an Economy 7 meter installed.
You should start by comparing Economy 7 prices. When we ask if you have Economy 7, select 'yes' and pick a supplier and tariff from the list - it doesn't matter which. Use your current usage details and estimate as best you can the percentage of your electricity you use at night.
We will then show you which will be the cheapest Economy 7 tariff for you. Contact the supplier directly, and ask them to switch you to Economy 7. You may find that you will have to pay to have the meter installed.
You can find telephone numbers for the main electricity suppliers in the list below.
Switching from Economy 7
If you want to switch from Economy 7 to a standard electricity tariff, you will need to contact your electricity supplier to find out more about the process. This is because you will probably need to fulfil some acceptance criteria to make the switch.
You may also have to have a new meter installed, which your energy supplier will often charge you for. In some circumstances you may be able to arrange to carry on using your Economy 7 meter; again, your current supplier should be able to tell you if this is the case.
When you do your comparison with uSwitch, we ask if you have Economy 7 - if you say that you do, we'll tailor your results so you only see relevant tariffs. Compare Economy 7 prices now to find the best electricity prices for you:
Will Economy 7 save me money? Is it right for me?
Economy 7 is not the right electricity tariff for everyone. Some people with Economy 7 actually find that it makes their bills more expensive, because the plan does not fit their lifestyle. Whether or not it will be cost effective for you will depend on a number of different factors:
When you use electricity
As a general rule of thumb you would need to use more than 40% of your electricity at night to make Economy 7 cost effective. Some Economy 7 plans charge almost twice the standard night rate for any electricity used in the day, which can cancel out the benefits of the cheap electricity you get at night.
The more electricity you use at night and the less you use in the day, the more money you will save with Economy 7.
How you heat your home and your water
An Economy 7 tariff is best suited to people who have electric storage heaters and a hot water tank. The idea is that you heat up the electric storage heaters overnight and that they slowly emit the heat the next day, and that you heat all your hot water for the next day overnight too.
If you heat your home and water with electricity, but don't have storage heaters or a hot water tank, Economy 7 probably won't be so cost effective for you.
If you heat your home and water with gas, Economy 7 could still be a good fit you for you, provided you use the bulk of your electricity at night.
The kind of appliances you have
To make the most of Economy 7 it helps if appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer have a timer so that you can run them overnight, when your electricity is cheaper.
If you have storage heaters and a hot water tank, you will probably find that your home and water will be nice and warm in the morning, but will cool down again by the evening.
Think about whether or not this fits in with your lifestyle. Alternatively, if you work unusual hours for example, you may find that Economy 7 will work for you because you use the bulk of your electricity at night anyway.
When does Economy 7 start?
If you're wondering when does Economy 7 start, it is usually either 11.00pm to 6.00am, 12.00am to 7.00am or 1.00am to 8.00am. However this can vary according to where you live and your energy supplier.
The time will also change when the clocks go back or forward. Contact your provider to check if you are in any doubt.
How do I read an Economy 7 meter?
There are two types of Economy 7 meter - how you read your meter will depend on which type you have.
- The first type has two displays - the top row is for your day rate electricity and is marked 'Normal' and the bottom row, which is marked 'Low', shows night rate. When you read your Economy 7 meter, always check both displays.
- The second type has a single row of numbers that shows your day rate electricity usage. To get a reading for your night rate electricity, press the red button.
If you skip ahead to 2:10 in the video below we'll show you how to read your Economy 7 meter:
What is Economy 10?
Economy 10 (also known as Heatwise) is like Economy 7, except you get 10 hours of cheaper electricity rather than 7. Also, 3 of these hours are in the afternoon, and 7 are overnight. It isn't possible to compare Economy 10 tariffs with uSwitch, so if you would like more information, contact your energy supplier.