The answer depends largely on your lifestyle and usage habits. If you have an Economy 7 meter, you will be charged costly rates for the electricity you use during the day, but discounted rates for a seven-hour window overnight.
If you have electric storage heaters and can schedule your appliances to come on during the night, you could save a significant amount on your annual bills.
However, if you use other types of electric heating, or you are regularly home and doing the washing or other chores during the day, it could cost you a lot more than a standard tariff.
So how does an Economy 7 meter work and how can you tell if you would benefit from one?
What is Economy 7?
Economy 7 is a type of electricity tariff that charges two different rates – one for electricity used during the day, and a cheaper one for electricity used at night.
It was designed to encourage households to shift their electricity usage to off-peak times to reduce the pressure on Britain’s electricity networks.
While night rates are cheaper than the standard cost of electricity, day rates are much higher. This means if you use too much electricity during the day, it could cost you more than a standard tariff.
What are Economy 7 times?
Typically Economy 7 customers receive cheaper electricity between midnight and 7am, however this can vary slightly according to your location and energy supplier. Your supplier may offer cheaper electricity from 11pm to 6am for example, or from 1am to 8am.
What is an Economy 7 meter?
When you sign up to Economy 7 you have a special meter installed that records your day and night usage separately.
Some households with older systems may have two meters, one for the day rate and one for the night rate, however newer systems record both on one meter. It will usually show two numbers, one marked “day” or “normal” to indicate usage at the day rate and one marked “night” or “low” to show usage at the cheaper overnight rate.
Some Economy 7 meters have a single number representing your day rate usage, with a red button that you press to see your night rate usage.
Can I get a smart meter?
It is possible to use a smart meter with an Economy 7 tariff, but availability currently depends on your location and supplier.
However, energy suppliers must offer all UK households a smart meter by 2024, so progress is being made to roll these out across Britain.
How do I know if I have an Economy 7 meter?
- Check your bill - If it has two electricity readings, usually marked day and night, or normal and low, the chances are you are on an Economy 7 tariff. The Meter Point Access Number on your bill will also start with “02”.
- Check your meter - If you have two electricity meters, or your electricity meter gives two readings, you may be on Economy 7.
- Call your electricity supplier - If you are still unsure, call your provider and check.
Should I switch to Economy 7?
To save money with Economy 7, you generally need to use more than 40pc of your electricity during the seven-hour off-peak window. The average Economy 7 customer currently uses 42pc during this time, according to Ofgem figures, but many use far less than that and would be better off switching to a standard tariff.
Consider switching to Economy 7 if you can:
- Use electric storage heaters and hot water tanks that heat up overnight and slowly heat your house and water the following day.
- Put your large appliances such as the washing machine and dishwasher on a timer so they come on overnight
- Time your dryer to start just before you wake up if this falls inside the off-peak window (running a dryer while you sleep is a fire hazard and should be avoided)
Avoid Economy 7 if:
- Your house uses electric heating but you don’t have a storage heater or hot water tank.
- You mainly use electrical appliances during the day
- You work variable shifts or your schedule regularly changes and you need the flexibility to use electricity at whatever time is most suitablesuits
Compare energy tariffs and save
Whether you use Economy 7 or not, you could save hundreds of pounds by switching to a better energy deal. This is particularly true if you have been with your current supplier for a while and are on a costly standard variable tariff. Check whether your supplier has a better tariff available, then compare the rate with other suppliers to find the cheapest deal for your household.
Switch with The Telegraph
You could save up to £581* a year on your gas and electricity by joining the The Telegraph Energy Switching Service.
Our partner, energyhelpline, allows you to compare providers across the whole market in just a few minutes to find the best deal for you based on your personal usage and circumstances. This service is completely impartial and compares the latest offers from all licensed energy suppliers to find you the cheapest deals. If you do decide to switch suppliers, energyhelpline will handle all aspects of your changeover for free.
- Spending more time at home can result in energy bills rising - Switch now and you could save up to £641*
*10% of customers switching their gas and electricity bills with the Telegraph Switching Service and Energy Club between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 saved £641 or more.
The above article was created for Telegraph Financial Solutions, a member of The Telegraph Media Group. For more information on Telegraph Financial Solutions click here.
Information correct at date of publication.