Economy 7 Meters
Soaring energy bills are a real financial headache for most of us, but using an Economy 7 tariff is one way to keep electricity costs down.
Advantages of Economy 7
Economy 7 tariffs are generally cheaper than other price plans because you commit to using most of your energy at night when electricity costs less. They are most suitable for people with storage heaters and a hot water tank, which can be heated up at night and then used to provide hot water and heating the following day.
The off-peak night time is often a seven-hour period, hence the name of the tariff. The Economy 7 discount times are usually 1am to 8am during winter, and 2am to 9am in summer.
Disadvantages of Economy 7
One of the biggest problems with using Economy 7 can be that even though you can heat your water and storage heaters throughout the night, this still might not provide enough warmth to last you throughout the next day.
That means your house could get chilly in the evenings when the Economy 7 heating has run out, and you may have to forgo a long soak in the bath after work in favour of a shower or bath in the morning.
You will need to be quite disciplined if you are planning to use an Economy 7 tariff, and you might need to install timing devices on domestic appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers at night to ensure you use them then and not at other times.
If you use them in the daytime, then the cost of electricity with an Economy 7 plan can often be almost double the rate you are charged at night-time, therefore wiping out any savings you might have made.
Switching to Economy 7
If you don't have an Economy 7 meter already, you'll need to have one installed. There may be a cost to get a new meter fitted, so check this before proceeding. The meters show both night and daytime readings although they can display these in different ways.
Certain meters have two sets of numbers, while others have one set of numbers which is the 'day rate' and you will have to press a button to display the 'night rate.'
Before switching to Economy 7, you should compare the cost of tariffs online through MoneySupermarket. This will provide you with the cheapest quotes to help you decide which supplier to go for.
As a general rule, you need to use at least 20% of your electricity at night to make a saving.
Switching away from Economy 7
If you are already on an Economy 7 tariff, but you find it doesn't really fit in with your lifestyle, then you can switch back to a standard tariff at any time.
However, this is likely to involve a new meter which you will probably be charged for, although in some cases you might be able to keep your existing Economy 7 meter.
You can compare the costs of energy tariffs online using MoneySupermarket's energy channel. This will provide quotes quickly and easily and once you have decided which tariff is right for you, you can use the service to switch online.