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What is an Economy 7 meter and how does the tariff work?

What is an Economy 7 meter and how does the tariff work?

Economy 7 is a type of electricity tariff that has a different price per kWh based on your time of use and is used with an Economy 7 meter. It's usually based around day and nighttime usage, with the price/kWh being cheaper at night.

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What is Economy 7 and how does it work?

Economy 7 tariff meter Economy 7 tariffs are required for homes with an Economy 7 meter. These meters track day and night use of electricity separately, so that a different kWh rate can be offered via an Economy 7 tariff - a bit like peak and off-peak phone calls.

It's called Economy 7 because you get cheaper electricity for 7 hours each night. These 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.

What is the cheapest Economy 7 plan with uSwitch?

With uSwitch, you can compare Economy 7 tariffs to find a cheaper deal. Here are the current cheapest Economy 7 plans that uSwitch can help you switch to:

Supplier Plan name Tariff type Price
Lumo Online Fixed v26 Fixed for 12 months £907 Compare now
Avro Energy Simple and uSummer Fixed for 12 months £948 Compare now
Green Network Energy GNE Summer Saver Fixed until 31 Jul 2020 £953 Compare now
Tonik Energy Go Green (1 Year) v16 Fixed for 12 months £965 Compare now
SSE Exclusive 1 Year Fixed v3 Fixed for 12 months £967 Compare now
So Energy So Turtle – Green Fixed for 12 months £977 Compare now
British Gas Energy Plus Boiler Cover Green July 2020 Fixed until 31 Jul 2020 £991 Compare now
Octopus Energy Octopus 12M Fixed Fixed for 12 months £994 Compare now
Green Network Energy GNE 2 Year Summer Saver Fixed for 24 months £997 Compare now
npower Select npower Select uSwitch Exclusive v14 Fixed until 31 Aug 2020 £998 Compare now

Prices are based on average bill sizes for a medium energy user on an Economy 7 plan paying by monthly direct debit, and averaged across all regions. This table is updated hourly from uSwitch's database of all Economy 7 plans on the open market that are available in at least 7 of 14 regions.

How do I know if I have Economy 7 tariff?

  • Read the Transcript

    Amy: In switching, it asks me if I have an economy 7 meter. How do I know that? Can I find that on my bill? How do I know if I’ve got one?

    Tom: An Economy 7 meter is a type of electricity meter that gives you two rates depending on the time of day. Essentially, they charge you more for using electricity during the day and less for using electricity at night. So, if you have storage heaters or you’re capable of doing washing overnight, and that sort of thing, then sometimes it can be cheaper.

    So the way you can find out is if we go back to your meter number, which is on the last page, and you see there where it says 01, that means you’re not on an Economy 7 meter. If you were, that would say 02 instead.

    Amy: Okay.

    Tom: Also, on the electricity breakdown here, you would have two unit rates. So, there would be two sets of consumptions and two sets of unit rates.

    Amy: Oh so that’s for the day and the night?

    Tom: Yeah, for the day and the night. And it would probably also say day rate and night rate next to it.

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 Administration 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' (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.

Why pay more for the same energy?

With energy prices high, make sure you're not paying over the odds. Enter your postcode into the box below to switch to a fixed deal today!

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 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.

  • Your lifestyle

    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?

The cheaper Economy 7 time period usually runs 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  • Read the Transcript

    It’s important to regularly take gas and electricity meter readings and send them to your supplier. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with an estimated bill that could mean you end up paying more than you have to, or it could actually mean you’ll end up paying less than you should. This sounds like a great thing, but actually it means you’ll end up in debt to your supplier, and somewhere down the line you’ll get a big bill.

    Meter Types

    There are four main types of gas and electricity meter: standard meters, dial meters, digital meters, and Economy 7 meters. They all differ slightly, but the basic techniques for reading a meter are still the same.

    Finding Your Meters

    Your first challenge is to find your meters if you don’t already know where they are. They could be tucked away in a cupboard, or if you live in a flat, they could be in a communal area. Once you’ve found your meters, you’ll need to work out which one’s for gas and which one’s for electricity. They might be labelled, but if not, you can work it out. The gas one will take measurements in cubic meters or cubic feet, and the electricity one will be measured in kWh.

    Taking a Reading on Standard and Digital Meters

    You’ll need to take a reading of the five black numbers going from left to right. Ignore any numbers in red, or on digital meters, any number that starts with 0.1.

    Taking a Reading on a Dial Meter

    Dial meters are a little bit different. To get your reading, you need to look at each of the dials and pick the number that the needle is pointing to.

    If the needle is pointing between two numbers, always round down rather than up. If the needle is pointing exactly to a number, when you write it down, underline it. Now you need to adjust your meter reading to make it as accurate as possible.

    Look at the underlined numbers; if they’re followed by a 9 you need to reduce them by 1.

    So, for example, if your meter reading was 51059, the 1 would stay the same because it’s followed by a 0, but the 5 would be reduced to 4 because it’s followed by a 9. Therefore, your final meter reading would be 51049.

    How to Take a Reading on an Economy 7 Meter

    Economy 7 meters are a little bit different so you need to take two readings. If you have two sets of dials marked low and normal, you need to take two readings separately.

    If you only have one set of dials marked day rate, take down the reading then press the red button to get the night rate, and then take another reading.

    Now you’ve got your meter reading, send it off to your supplier so you get really accurate bills.

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.

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