What is the Best Energy Plan for You?

If you are one of millions of energy consumers in the U.K. who has been on the same energy plan for years, perhaps now is the time to switch. Most of the best tariffs are offered to new customers, while big businesses may charge older customers exorbitant prices that the customers shouldn’t have to pay. While you are considering a provider switch, changing meters may also be a way to save money further. Most companies will offer new customers meter installation at a small cost, or possibly even for free. If you are thinking about trying a new type of meter, here are some facts about your options.

Standard meters

Standard meters are the most commonly used form of meter in the U.K. These supply energy at one 24-hour rate, so you are paying the same for your energy usage per unit no matter what time of day it is. Instead, the standard tariff you pay will depend on how you choose to receive your bills and how you choose to pay. If you can receive your bills online and use direct debit to pay, allowing the energy company to pull the money from your debit account automatically, then a standard meter may be the most affordable option for you. Otherwise, an Economy 7 or 10 plan may work better for you if you are willing to maneuver your energy usage around the cheapest hours.

Economy 7 meters

If you have never used an Economy 7 meter, you don’t know the low tariffs that you could be missing out on. Economy 7 meters use two different tariffs, with the more expensive being during the daytime hours and the cheaper tariff charged during seven hours of the night. If you switch to an Economy 7 meter, you may want to install timers on many of your appliances so that they can run during the off-peak hours. As long as you can keep a large majority of your energy usage to night-time hours, you could end up paying nearly half the standard tariffs. But be warned, the daytime tariffs for Economy 7 tend to be a little higher than standard tariffs, so if you will be using most of your energy during the day you might have higher bills than on a standard meter.

Economy 10 meters

Similar to the Economy 7 meter, Economy 10 meters (sometimes called Heatwise meters, although true Heatwise meters are a little different) use different tariffs depending on the time of day you use your electricity. Economy 10 meters were designed to work best in homes that use electricity for heating instead of gas. These meters have ten hours of off-peak tariffs, rather than seven, but these hours are split up throughout the day. Most providers offer off-peak tariffs for two to three hours in the afternoon, two to three hours in the evening, and four to five hours at night. These times coincide with the hours that hot water is in higher demand, so that you can have hotter water when you actually need it. However, Economy 10 peak hour tariffs may be even higher than those of Economy 7 meters, so Economy 10 users must generally be very conscious of when they use appliances that pull a lot of power. Also, keep in mind that since Economy 10 is specifically made for heating comfort, you will likely be able to keep your home a little warmer with ten hours of heating time rather than seven.

Smart Meters

The British government is hoping to install smart meters in 80% of homes and businesses in the U.K. by 2020. Depending on your energy company, you may have access to these new smart meters now. Smart meters were designed to address many of the billing problems that have plagued energy consumers for years, sending live data both to the energy company and to an In-Home Device that will allow you to see your energy consumption as well. This way, you will be billed only for the energy you use. You can choose to prepay or pay by credit, and can change your method of payment without needing to change your meter. Currently, you can also keep the tariffs you have, or you may be able to choose a special time-of-use tariff specifically for your smart meter.

Sam Jones, the author, has been looking into heatwise meters and thinks that they are a very good way to save some extra money.

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