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What is an Economy 7 meter?

You’ve probably heard of Economy 7 electricity tariffs. But what exactly are they? And could they be right for you? Here’s how to work out if an Economy 7 tariff could lower your energy bills.

You’ve probably heard of Economy 7 electricity tariffs. But what exactly are they? And could they be right for you? Here’s how to work out if an Economy 7 tariff could lower your energy bills.

Written by
Dan Tremain
Energy and business energy expert
20 APRIL 2022
5 min read
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What is an Economy 7 meter?

An Economy 7 meter is a type of electricity meter that goes with an Economy 7 energy tariff.

You’ll usually find Economy 7 meters in homes that use electricity, rather than gas, for their heating and hot water.

What is Economy 7?

Economy 7 is an energy tariff that gives you two rates – a cheaper rate for seven hours of off-peak time (usually at night) and a more expensive rate during the day.

How does Economy 7 work? 

An Economy 7 electricity meter will usually show you two different numbers – one for your cheaper night-time rate and another for your daytime rate. You’ll often see these referred to as R1 and R2. 

That means you’ll pay a far lower rate for the electricity you use at night.

Which is better – Economy 7 or a standard energy rate? 

Most UK households will pay less with a standard energy rate because we tend to use the bulk of our electricity during the day. But if you have electric storage heaters, you may be better off with an Economy 7 tariff as storage heaters work by storing heat during the night, then slowly releasing it during the day. Economy 7 could also work for you if you have other appliances you use during the night, or if you work a night shift and use most of your electricity at night.

What time does Economy 7 start and end? 

That depends on your energy supplier. But Economy 7 times are usually between midnight and 7am. On some tariffs, Economy 7 hours are split into two blocks.

What happens when the clocks change? 

You may find your meter doesn’t change with the clocks. This means your cheaper hours will be different, depending on the time of year. You’ll need to confirm this with your energy supplier when you sign up.

Can I get a smart meter with Economy 7? 

Yes. Most energy suppliers will happily give you a smart meter with Economy 7 – just contact your supplier to arrange an installation.

Can I get an Economy 7 tariff for gas? 

No. Economy 7 tariffs only come with electricity because the things we use gas for – cooking, heating, hot water – we don’t tend to do as much at night.

What are Economy 7 rates? 

Tariff rates vary between electricity suppliers, so you’ll need to shop around before you commit.

Is it cheaper to have an Economy 7 meter? 

That depends on your home and lifestyle. If you work from home and have the heating on during the day, an Economy 7 tariff will probably cost you more, as you’ll be paying for peak hours when rates are more expensive. 

To make Economy 7 cost-effective, you need to use a large chunk of your electricity at night. This tends to work for people who have electric storage heaters, which warm up overnight to heat your home the next day. It also helps if you can time it so that your dishwasher, washing machine, etc, run overnight. It might also be cost effective if you charge an electric car overnight.

Lots of people have an Economy 7 tariff that may no longer be right for them. If you think that’s you, we recommend you look into switching.

How do I switch to Economy 7? 

If you want to switch to an Economy 7 tariff, you’ll need to get an Economy 7 meter installed. The first step is to compare tariffs. When you find one you like the look of, you can speak to the supplier and they’ll arrange the installation for you.

How do I switch from Economy 7 to a standard tariff? 

If you want to switch from Economy 7 to a standard tariff, contact your electricity supplier. In some cases, you may need to change your meter, but most will move you to a single-rate tariff without too much fuss.

How do I read an Economy 7 meter?

Meters vary between suppliers, so it’s hard to offer precise instructions on how to read yours. But you may notice that:

  • Your meter has two displays, one showing your daytime consumption and the other your night-time.
  • Your meter has a red button, which shows a different consumption rate when pressed.
  • If you have a smart meter, it may again show you two different rates.

If in doubt, contact your electricity supplier.

What’s the difference between Economy 7 and Economy 10? 

Like Economy 7, Economy 10 gives you cheaper electricity at night. The difference is that Economy 10 gives you 10 hours of cheaper electricity, rather than seven.

But you may find those 10 hours are broken up into smaller blocks in the afternoon, evening and overnight. This can make your tariff feel unnecessarily complicated. 

Economy 10 is harder to come by than Economy 7. Since only a few suppliers provide it, it’s not something we offer here at Compare the Market.

Frequently asked questions

How do I find out if I have an Economy 7 tariff?

To find out if you have an Economy 7 tariff, just look at your meter or bill. If you see separate daytime and night-time rates, it’s likely you have an Economy 7 meter. If you’re still not sure, you can call your electricity supplier to confirm.

What type of heaters can you use with Economy 7?

Economy 7 is aimed at people who use electric storage heaters. If you have electric radiators, you’ll probably find an Economy 7 tariff is more expensive, as you’ll be using them during peak daytime hours.

What is the cheapest Economy 7 tariff?

Electricity suppliers regularly change their rates, depending on a range of factors, such as wholesale energy costs. As always, it pays to shop around and compare.

Can I get an electric car with Economy 7?

If you have an electric car and charge it at home, you’ve most likely seen a rise in your electricity bills. But if you charge your car at home overnight, you could find that an Economy 7 tariff makes sense.

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