Economy 7 meters can be a great way to cut your energy bill but only if your lifestyle allows for it.
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Economy 7 refers to a type of electricity tariff which means you pay a different price per unit for the energy you consume depending on the time of day.
Typically, what this means is that you pay a lower rate for energy used at night than you would during the day. It works in the same way as off-peak phone calls. To benefit from Economy 7 pricing you need an Economy 7 meter. But even then, it might not be right for you.
Continue reading our guide to learn if your meter is Economy 7, how it works and what to do if you want to replace it with one of the following types of electricity meter:
So how can you tell if you’re on an Economy 7 tariff?
The easiest way to find out if you're on an Economy 7 tariff is to grab a recent electricity/dual fuel bill and have a look at your electricity rates. If you have two different rates — a day and a night rate — then you’re probably on an Economy 7 tariff (it could also be an Economy 10 meter, which works in much the same way). Read more in our guide to energy bills. Energy bills - understanding utility bills.
Another thing to check on your bill is your Meter Point Access Number (MPAN), which should start with the numbers ‘02’ if you’re on an economy 7 tariff.
If you don't have a bill handy, then simply head to your electricity meter and take a look. If you are on an Economy 7 tariff your meter will display two sets of numbers, one ‘normal’ and another ‘low’, or alternatively, one marked ‘day rate’ and a red button which displays a ‘night rate’ when pressed.
If you’re still not sure, call your electricity supplier and check with them. If you are unsure who supplies your energy, read our guide. Who is my gas or electricity supplier.
What is Economy 7?
Economy 7 means you get two separate electricity rates. Your peak rate (the more expensive one) will be during the day, usually between 7am and midnight. Your off-peak rate (the cheaper rate) will be between midnight and 7am.
The timing of your off-peak hours may vary with different Economy 7 tariffs, but it's always 7 hours (hence the name) and usually begins between 11pm and 1am.
You can find out everything you need to know in our guide to What is Economy 7 meter and how does the tariff work and see if they are right for you.
Is Economy 7 cheaper?
During the off-peak hours, Economy 7 is much cheaper than standard electricity rates. However, during peak hours the rates are much higher than your ordinary electricity supplier’s rates.
On the balance, if you used electricity in the same way as the average household, then Economy 7 would probably be more expensive than if you were on any other electricity tariff.
If you use your electricity late at night and schedule your biggest energy consuming appliances to run during the off-peak hours, then Economy 7 could save you money against the average standard rate tariff. However, you likely are able to save more by simply switching to a cheap, non-economy 7 energy deal.
Who is Economy 7 for?
Economy 7 is not as popular as it once was and you will find that fewer energy suppliers offer these tariffs anymore.
People with storage heaters will usually consider getting an Economy 7 meter. Without a storage heater Economy 7 is almost certainly not worth it.
Storage heaters can be scheduled to work during the off-peak hours. They use energy to create heat but keep it locked in until you need it.
Homes with a combination of a storage heater and Economy 7 meter usually set up the storage heater to operate in the middle of the night. During the peak hours, the storage heater's retained warmth is released to heat the home throughout the day.
Some households with Economy 7 meters also time their dishwasher and washing machine to run in the middle of the night.
If your appliances make a lot of noise then you might not want them running in the middle of the night, but for some people it can save them a lot on their energy bills every month.
What is Economy 10?
Economy 10 is much like the Economy 7 electricity tariffs, except that the off-peak hours run for 10 hours rather than 7.
Unlike Economy 7, Economy 10's off-peak hours usually work in three separate intervals, rather than operating consecutively (as such there are three separate unit rates).
Commonly with Economy 10, you have 3 hours of off-peak (low rates) in the afternoon, 4 hours in the evening, and 3 hours in the early morning.
To get the most out of an Economy 10 tariff, you would need to do more planning than on an Economy 7, but you would at least get more hours of the off-peak rate.
You can find out more in our guide Understanding economy 10 tariffs - are they right for you. It’s worth noting that due to the complexity of the three different rates, many price comparison sites (including uSwitch) cannot support comparisons for these types of meters. This makes it difficult to ensure you’re getting the best energy deal and may be worth seeing if you can change your meter to a standard one.
How do I switch from an Economy 7 meter to a standard electricity meter?
If you decide that the Economy 7 tariff doesn't work for you and you'd like a standard electricity tariff, then you need to start by getting a new meter.
In order 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.
Your meter and circumstances might need to meet some of the criteria for your energy supplier to install a standard meter for you. In most cases they will charge you for this, but you may be able to get your Economy 7 replaced with a standard meter for free.
In some cases, your energy supplier might be able to provide you with a standard electricity tariff on your Economy 7 meter. However, you may find it difficult in future to switch to a new energy supplier if you still have an Economy 7 meter.
With uSwitch you can run an energy comparison, to find a new electricity supplier. When doing so you can state that you have an Economy 7 meter to see suitable tariffs.