Economy 7 Meter Guide

With an Economy 7 energy plan you could potentially cut the cost of your electricity bill. Economy 7 or E7 for short is a multi rate electricity metering plan that gives you 2 tariff rates instead of a single all day and night right with a standard meter.

The main benefit of switching to Economy 7 is that the price you pay for 7 hours each night is much lower than the standard tariff rate. However the day rate you are charged for the other 17 hours of the day is more expensive than the standard rate.

If we take a look at the pricing difference between an economy 7 tariff and a standard tariff from energy supplier Green Energy. On their Oak variable tariff Green Energy charge a day rate of 14.25375p per kWh and an off peak night rate at 8.786p per kWh.

The same Oak tariff from Green on a standard meter would cost 12.340p per kWh. Both the standard and E7 rates have the same daily standing charge of 15p a day. So you can see from this illustration that the night rate is around 4p cheaper per kWh than the standard tariff rate but 2p more expensive during the day compared to the standard tariff rate.

How do I know if I have an Economy 7 meter

With a traditional electric meter you will have two sets of numbers on the display, both a low and a normal reading. With a smart meter it's not as easy. However if you press 6 on the smart meters keypad you should see IMP R01 followed by a kWh reading then IMP R02 followed by the daytime reading.

Failing that you can find out who supplies your electricity to find out what type of meter is installed in the property and also find out your supplier.

Economy 7 smart meter

Whilst there are around 5 million households with Economy 7 meters and around a million on Economy 10 in the UK most of these meters are not smart meters.

Getting a dual rate economy 7 smart meter installed will depend on which energy provider you are with. Not all energy companies install smart meters and those that do may not install economy 7 meters. Smart Energy GB state that 'At present, these types of meters are in development stages and will be available at scale later in the rollout.'

Economy 7 vs Standard meters

The difference between an Economy 7 meter and a standard meter is that the former can record the usage of two separate rates for different times of the day and the latter has the same rate for the whole of the day.

Deciding on which type to choose depends on how you use electricity at home. For most households an Economy 7 meter is only beneficial if you have it integrated into your space heating and hot water system.

Many older flats were built with night storage heaters that used the lower rate electricity to warm up the heaters during the off peak hours. Electric immersion water storage heaters worked in a similar way where cheaper off peak electricity would be used to heat up your water and store it for use during the day.

If you do your washing or run a tumble dryer during the off peak hours you could also save money.

In practice however most UK households would not benefit from having Economy 7 unless they were prepared to change the times in which they used a majority of their electricity.

However if you have an electric car to charge overnight then it's worth looking at EV tariffs that can save you money by offering cheaper off peak charging rates.

Economy 7 hours

Off peak rates were originally invented to help manage demand on the UK power network. Cheaper off peak energy would help reduce peak demand that occurs during the day by offering lower priced electricity during low demand hours, generally 11pm to 7 am.

The actual off peak economy 7 hours vary depending on your region and the meter you have installed as well as the time of year (winter GMT/summer BST). Meters usually have clocks so they know when to switch rates or work by relying on a remotely broadcasted signal they can pick up.

The table below will give you a more accurate guide of what period your 7 hours off peak will occur. Where it states 7 hours your 7 hours will start and finish for 7 hours only between those hours.

Region Code Region E7 Hours
10 Eastern 23:00 - 07:00 (7 hours)
11 East Midlands 23:00 - 07:00 (7 hours)
12 London 23:00 - 07:00 (7 hours)
13 Merseyside and North Wales 00:00 - 08:00
14 Midlands 23:30 - 08:00 (7 hours)
15 North East 00:30 - 07:30
16 North West 00:30 - 07:30
17 North of Scotland Varies
18 South of Scotland 22:00 - 08:30 (7 hours)
19 South East 22:30/00:30 - 02:30/07:30
20 Southern 22:30 - 06:30
21 South Wales Depends on Meter
22 South West Depends on Meter
23 Yorkshire 00:30 - 07:30

Economy 7 meter reading

The pre-smart meters will have two sets of numbers displaying the low off peak reading and the normal day time reading so it's simply a case of making a note of the two sets of numbers.

Reading a smart E7 meter manually is a little more complicated. If you have a smart electricity meter such as the Secure Liberty 100 meter you will need to press 6 on the keypad until you see IMP R01 for the off peak night time kWh reading and press 6 again to see IMP R02 and you will see the kWh reading for the normal daytime figures.

The numbers and figures on the display will change quite quickly so if you have your smart phone ready to take a picture it will be easier to read off the numbers from a photograph rather than having to keep on repeating the process because you didn't right down the figures fast enough.

Additionally taking a picture on your phone will mean you will be able to zoom into the numbers to read them more clearly. If it's too dark where your meter is located the camera flash will illuminate the numbers. You'll also have a permanent time stamped record of your meter readings.

Can I save money by switching to Economy 7?

Switching to economy 7 is generally not a good idea unless you are willing to change your energy usage habits to use at least a third of your annual electricity consumption during the night time off peak hours. If you have electric storage heaters and an electric immersion then economy 7 makes sense. If that's the case you're probably already on an E7 tariff.

If you currently have a single rate (all day) meter and you want to save on energy costs then you should first find out if you can find a better deal for standard meters. Compare your current provider with their competitors to find out if there is a better deal for you.

You are more likely to save by switching to a more competitive energy tariff than risk switching to a different metering system where you won't find out if you will actually save money in the longer term. Switching suppliers you will already know ahead of time how much you would be saving.