Economy 7 tariffs and meters explained
What does Economy 7 mean?
This refers to the different prices paid per kWh according to the time of day you use your electricity. The different times are usually day and night, where by you pay a cheaper price at night time. This makes sense as less people are using energy at night so there is less pressure on the grid, which means it becomes cheaper for customers to use electricity at this time. Think of it as a peak or an off-peak rate that you might get with a gym membership. The number “7” in this term refers to the fact that the off-peak period lasts for 7 hours.
Customers who have this type of differing price structure are on an Economy 7 tariff, which is only enabled if they have a special Economy 7 meter.
Many customers think that using electricity at night time is automatically cheaper. However, this is only the case if they are on this special type of tariff.
How do I know if I’m on an Economy 7 tariff?
When our users are switching energy suppliers this is a question we ask during the process.
There are 4 ways to know, but the quickest and easiest way to find out if you’re on an Economy 7 tariff, is to check your electricity bill. If you can see two different electricity rate prices, then you are on this type of tariff.
You can check your MPAN number, and if it starts with “02”, then this will indicate that you’re on this type of tariff. If you’re not sure what an MPAN is or where to find it, then read our guide here that explains all you need to know.
Thirdly you can have a look at your electricity meter and see if it displays two different rates. Often this will be labelled as “day” and “night”, or “low” and “normal”. If these rates are displayed then you are on Economy 7 tariff.
Finally, if you’re still unsure, get in touch with your electricity supplier and they will be able to inform you on what you’re on.
When do the cheaper Economy 7 hours start?
The times differ depending on your area and supplier. On the whole the seven off-peak period is usually between 11pm to 6am, 12am to 7am or 1am to 8am.
If you’re not sure, you should contact your electricity supplier so that they can confirm this.
Sometimes suppliers may split this period into more than 2 during a day, so there be multiple times during the day in which you could be paying a lower rate. This is rarer, and again, you should check with your supplier so they can confirm the exact timings.
Should I switch to an Economy 7 tariff?
Economy 7 tariffs may not be right for everyone. Some customers find that their energy bills go up when they move on to this type of tariff as it doesn’t fit their lifestyles particularly well. You ought to consider the below factors when trying to decide whether you should switch to this type of tariff.
How often do you use your electricity at night?
As a very general rule, you should be using your electricity at least 40% of the time during off-peak hours for the tariff to make financial sense for you. Some of these tariffs charge double the normal standard rate of electricity during the day. Therefore you need to consider this very carefully before committing.
How do you heat your home and water?
Some households have electric storage heaters and hot water tanks, which heat up overnight and then gradually release their heat during the day for use. If your household have these types of heaters and tanks, then an Economy 7 tariff could be suitable as most of the actual energy is used at night time.
How do you use your electricity appliances?
Some of the most energy-draining appliances in households are dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers. If you tend to use these overnight, then most of your electricity consumption could be happening at this time too. If this is the case, an Economy 7 meter could be suitable for you.
How do I switch to an Economy 7 tariff?
If you want to switch to this type of tariff, you will need a special meter installed by the supplier, which will most likely come at a cost.
We suggest that you use Lumo to compare and find the right Economy 7 tariff plan for you, and then get in touch directly with your new found supplier to arrange your switch and meter installation.
How do I switch away from an Economy 7 tariff?
Similarly if you want to switch to a standard type of tariff, you will need a new meter installed by your supplier, which will most likely come at a cost.
In this case we recommend to get in touch directly with your current supplier to find out more about the process and how you can proceed with a switch as it can be complex.