Economy 7 meters: what are they and do I need one?

·7-min read
 (Pexels)
(Pexels)

Economy 7 accounts work with a type of ‘differential’, ‘time of use’, or ‘multi-rate’ energy meter that charges you different rates for electricity during the day and during the night.

Rates are more expensive during the day, and cheaper at night. The ‘7’ part is the number of hours counted as night.

It is similar to being charged different rates for ‘peak’ and ‘off peak’.

In contrast, a standard energy tariff just charges one flat rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity, regardless of the time of day it’s used.

Economy 7 meters are only for electricity, not gas. They are usually used in conjunction with night storage heaters and a hot water tank. Storage heaters store heat during the night and release it during the day – the same goes for water in the hot water tank.

What is an Economy 7 Meter?

This type of electricity meter tracks day and night use of electricity separately.

An Economy 7 meter will show two sets of numbers. They will be labelled either:

  • ‘low’ and ‘normal’

  • ‘lower’ and ‘higher’

  • ‘day’ and ‘night’

Some Economy 7 meters just show a day rate with a button you press to see figures for night.

How does Economy 7 work?

The idea behind Economy 7 is that users benefit from cheaper electricity at night.

Whether Economy 7 will be a cheap energy option for you very much depends on your lifestyle.

If you have electric storage heaters, these will heat up overnight and release the heat during the day.

To make the most of Economy 7, you’d also need to set appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines to run at night, rather than during the day.

Cheapest Economy 7 fixed dual fuel deal vs cheapest standard fixed dual fuel deal

Cheapest Economy 7 deal

Cheapest single rate deal

elec unit rate per kWh

19.85p

16.51p

elec unit rate per kWh (off peak)

9.25p

-

elec standing charge per day

23.36p

23.28p

gas unit rate per kWh

3.39p

3.39p

gas standing charge per day

26.45p

26.45p

Rates are based on dual fuel deals for an Ofgem-defined ‘medium user’ consuming 4200 kwh of electricity annually and paying by monthly direct debit. Source: Comparison Technologies, correct as of 22 September 2021.

How do I know if I have an Economy 7 meter?

There are three main ways you’ll know if you are on Economy 7:

  • Your electricity bill will have two separate readings for day and night

  • The Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) on your bill will begin with "02".

  • Your electricity meter will have two sets of numbers

When does the cheaper night rate start?

Exactly when peak and off-peak (or day and night) rates start and end, depend on your energy supplier and where you live. But typical off-peak periods are:

  • 23.00 – 06.00

  • 00.00 – 07.00

  • 01.00 – 08.00

  • 01.30 – 08.30

With some meters, you can hear them click when they switch between day/night.

Day and night times may change when the clocks go forwards or back.

Top 5 cheapest single electric Economy 7 deals

Supplier

Deal

Type

Cost

Neon Reef

Aqua One

Variable

£566.09

Spark Energy

Tili Select Saver - Sept 2021

Fixed

£732.11

ScottishPower

Exclusive HelpBeatCancer FixedSaver Aug2023 Online

Fixed

£758.20

Neon Reef

Neptune v3

Fixed

£770.65

Utility Warehouse

Double Gold

Variable

£787.15

Cheapest costs based on single electric Economy 7 deals for an Ofgem-defined ‘medium user’, paying by monthly direct debit. Note, these may not be available in every region of the UK. Source: Comparison Technologies, correct as of 22 September 2021.

How to read an Economy 7 Meter

If you are on Economy 7 you might need to submit electricity readings to your energy provider to get an accurate bill. You’ll need to read, and submit, both sets of numbers on the meter.

Some, but not all, suppliers will offer a smart meter that works with Economy 7. A smart meter will send meter readings to your supplier automatically so you no longer have to do it manually.

The smart meter in-home display will usually show you separate readings for your peak and off-peak use.

Is Economy 7 cheap?

In theory, if you can use most of your electricity at night, Economy 7 can work out to be cost-effective.

If you have storage heaters or a hot water tank, you can heat these overnight to use the following day. If you own an electric car, you may be able to save money by charging it overnight.

When it comes to using dishwashers and washing machines at night, you’ll either need to stay up late to put them on or use a timer.

Experts say you would need to use more than 50% of your electricity at night to make Economy 7 cost-effective.

The daytime rate on Economy 7 will usually be more expensive than rates on a normal energy tariff, and it’s sometimes twice the price of the night rate. So if Economy 7 doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle, you can end up massively overpaying for electricity.

Average savings gained on Economy 7 fixed dual fuel deals

Off peak usage(%)

Off peak usage(kWh)

Annual bill on cheapest Economy 7 fixed dual fuel deal

Annual bill on cheapest standard fixed dual fuel deal

Savings

10%

420

£1,377.79

£1,281.73

-£96.05

20%

840

£1,333.27

£1,281.73

-£51.53

30%

1260

£1,288.75

£1,281.73

-£7.01

40%

1680

£1,244.23

£1,281.73

£37.51

50%

2100

£1,199.71

£1,281.73

£82.03

60%

2520

£1,155.19

£1,281.73

£126.55

70%

2940

£1,110.67

£1,281.73

£171.07

Rates and estimations based on dual fuel deals for an Ofgem-defined ‘medium user’ consuming 4200 kwh of electricity annually and paying by monthly direct debit. Source: Comparison Technologies, correct as of 22 September 2021.

Should I get Economy 7?

If your home is not connected to the gas network, you will have to use electricity to heat it and this can be expensive.

Night storage heaters, working in conjunction with Economy 7, will be the most cost effective option. The heaters are cheap to install and require very little maintenance. However, after heating up at night, you might find that storage heaters don’t provide enough warmth to last a full day – making your heaters colder in the evening.

If you have turned off the night storage heaters for a while and turn them back on, you’ll need to wait until the following night for any heat. When it comes to hot water, you might find you don’t have enough for an evening bath.

The other main option to heat your home with electricity is electric radiators that work with standard electricity tariffs. However, although more responsive than night storage heaters, electric radiators can cost a fortune to run.

If you have gas, installing a boiler and radiators will work out a much cheaper way to heat your home and generate hot water, even if the set-up costs are higher.

Gas central heating is much more user-friendly than night storage heaters. If you’re cold, you can simply turn the heating up and feel the benefit straight away.

In short, if you have gas, then you have no need for Economy 7. If you only have electricity, then using Economy 7 to heat your home and water will usually work out cheaper than electric radiators.

How to get an Economy 7 meter

When you’ve found a supplier you want to switch to, you’ll need to contact it to get an Economy 7 meter installed.

If you want to switch the other way – from Economy 7 to a standard deal – you’ll need to check with your supplier whether you can still use your current meter. If not your supplier will have to fit a new one, potentially at a cost.

However, this cost may be cancelled out if you switch to a cheaper deal.

Bear in mind that if you’re still planning to use a storage heater, switching to a standard deal could work out more expensive.

Top 5 cheapest dual fuel Economy 7 deals

Supplier

Deal

Type

Cost

Spark Energy

Tili Select Saver - Sept 2021

Fixed

£1,235.30

Utility Warehouse

Double Gold

Variable

£1,259.96

ScottishPower

Exclusive Green Fixed Price May 2022 SM1

Fixed

£1,278.20

ScottishPower

Greener Future April 2022 IM2

Fixed

£1,287.57

Utility Warehouse

Gold

Variable

£1,293.12

Cheapest costs based on dual fuel Economy 7 deals for an Ofgem-defined ‘medium user’, paying by monthly direct debit. Note, these may not be available in every region of the UK. Source: Comparison Technologies, correct as of 22 September 2021.

What is Economy 10?

Economy 10 is similar to Economy 7, except you get 10 hours of cheaper electricity, not seven.

In most cases there are seven hours of cheaper electricity overnight and another three in the afternoon.

Are there any other Economy deals?

Currently, providers such as EDF and SSE offer an Economy 9 deal, where you get 9 hours of cheaper rates, typically split into three blocks across a 24-hour period.

While energy suppliers may occasionally offer other types of Economy deals, Economy 7 and Economy 10 remain the most common.

Read More

Best cheap energy deals: fixed rate and variable rate energy offers September 2021

How to understand your energy bills

Best energy suppliers 2021

Energy tariffs explained

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting