When it comes to energy supply, pricing and billing, nothing is simple. Actually, one thing is simple – if you want to pay less for your gas and electricity then come to WeFlip. ￼More on that later. For now, though, let’s look at the bigger picture.
It’s not really a very pretty picture, we have to admit. It’s more like a piece of difficult modern art, packed with sharp angles and distorted perspectives. And it really is a very big bigger picture. There are so many things to consider when thinking about spending as little as possible on the gas and electricity you use, from the difference between a fixed and variable rate tariff to the use of ￼smart meters, ￼prepayment meters and even ￼how to read your meter. It’s no surprise that as many as 60% of customers have never changed energy suppliers, or have only done it once because, let’s be honest, it seems like a lot of boring hard work. You know, like trying to pretend you understand why that modern art is good when someone looks on expectantly after asking what you think.
The answer to this is that there are lots of things you can do to save money. And since the average customer spends more than £350 a year more than they should be paying on energy bills, there are at least 350 very good reasons to do so. If you want a much nicer big picture to look at, think of those five pound notes, seventy of them, all in a neat pile, being handed back to you by the energy supplier who thought they could just sit back and rely on you putting up with being overcharged.
Economy 7 meters explained
One of the changes you can make is to have an Economy 7 meter installed. Since, let’s be honest, you probably don’t spend a lot of time studying your meter, you may be asking ‘How do I know if I have an Economy 7 meter already?’ Does it have the word ‘Economy’ and the number ‘7’ written on it in bright orange paint? Is it, perhaps, in the shape of a number 7? We’ll answer these questions (actually not these two specific questions, because they’re obviously rather silly) and more:
What is an Economy 7 tariff?
Most tariffs charge a set amount per unit of energy no matter when you use that energy. Economy 7 is different. An Economy 7 tariff charges a different rate for the electricity that you use during the night. The name itself comes from the fact that the tariff offers 7 hours of cheaper electricity every night. The easiest way to think of it is in terms of peak and off-peak electricity, like train tickets. An Economy 7 meter will display two readings, one for the electricity used during the day, and another for the electricity used for the cheaper night time rate.
How can I tell if I’m on an Economy 7 tariff?
Take a look at your bills and take a look at your meter. If your bill lists two different tariffs and two different figures for the units you’ve used, then you’re probably on an Economy 7 tariff. If you’re bill is a bit confusing (many bills seem to have been designed by the artist who painted the modernist Big Picture we mentioned above), then check your meter instead. Some Economy 7 meters have two rows of numbers, often labelled ‘lower’ and ‘higher’. Others have one digital display, but a button which you can press to scroll through the two different figures. Either way, you’ll have a meter that features two different sets of readings, one for peak electricity and one for off-peak.
What are the plus points of an Economy 7 meter?
The main selling point of an Economy 7 meter is that it can help you to save money on your energy costs, but only if you use the energy in a specific way. If you’re at home all day, running appliances and heating and lighting rooms, then an Economy 7 tariff, which may charge double for the units you use during the day, will be of little use. If you can switch to night time use on the other hand – if you’re out at work all day and more likely to consume￼ energy later – then it’s an alternative worth considering.
What are Economy 7 hours?
The exact hours which count as off-peak on Economy 7 will vary from supplier to supplier, but they generally start between 11pm and 1am and last until 6am and 8am. If you think you’re on an Economy 7 tariff you should ask your supplier what the exact hours are, and you should also ask if these change when the clocks go backwards and forwards in spring and autumn. Nothing worse than thinking you’re on the cheaper hours and then getting a nasty surprise when the bill arrives.
Do smart meters work with Economy 7?
Economy 7 tariffs and smart meters are compatible. The reading on your In Home Device will reflect the rate you’re being charged per unit at different times of the day or night.
And Economy 10?
Just to confuse matters a bit, there’s such a thing as Economy 10 meters as well. These offer… you’ve guessed it, 10 hours of off-peak electricity, some of them (three usually) during daylight hours.
Quick tips for making the most of an Economy 7 or Economy 10 meter
- Charge gadgets like laptops, tablets and smartphones during the off peak hours.
- Use plug in timers to set when appliances like washing machines and dishwashers turn on. Only set tumble dryers to come on shortly before you wake up, however, to minimise any risk of fire.
- Make sure your appliances are as energy–￼efficient as possible, starting with light bulbs and working your way up. Appliances like ovens, dishwashers and freezers have an EU Energy label with a grading from A to G, with A being the most energy–￼efficient.
Of course, the best tip of all, whether you’re on an Economy 7 meter or not, is to come to WeFlip to switch your energy supplier. That way you’ll always know you’re on the best possible tariff.