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What's the difference between economy 7 and 10 tariffs?

Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs are designed to give you a cheaper electricity rate at night and off peak, and a more expensive rate during peak demand hours. The key difference is the number of off-peak hours you get – 7 hours on Economy 7, and 10 hours on Economy 10.

Used properly, they could save you money. But whether you’ll benefit or not depends on your energy use habits. Read on to find out more about the differences and if either tariff is right for you.

Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs are designed to give you a cheaper electricity rate at night and off peak, and a more expensive rate during peak demand hours. The key difference is the number of off-peak hours you get – 7 hours on Economy 7, and 10 hours on Economy 10.

Used properly, they could save you money. But whether you’ll benefit or not depends on your energy use habits. Read on to find out more about the differences and if either tariff is right for you.

Sofia Hutson
Energy expert
5
minute read
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Posted 10 FEBRUARY 2020 Last Updated 7 JUNE 2022

What is an economy 7 tariff?

An Economy 7 tariff is also known as a ‘time-of-use’ tariff. It will give you a cheaper rate during a 7-hour period when you’re least likely to be using energy – typically during the night. Most energy providers set the ‘off-peak’ 7-hour period to run from midnight to 7am, and the more expensive rate to cover the rest of the day. But the times can vary between providers, so check with the supplier before you sign up.

If you have Economy 7, it’s important to make a note of your off-peak times:

  • Off-peak times may vary by a few minutes each day. Providers do this to stop all their Economy 7 customers switching on appliances at the same time and overloading the grid.
  • If you sign up to an Economy 7 tariff, your energy provider should give you with special meter. Be sure to send the meter readings to your provider or you may get an estimated bill, which could be inaccurate and might lead to you being over or under charged.

What is an economy 10 tariff?

An Economy 10 tariff is also a ‘time-of-use’ tariff that has 10 hours of the cheaper rate rather than 7. However, here your off-peak periods may be divided throughout the day and night. For example, you may get a five-hour off-peak period during the night and one three-hour and one two-hour off-peak period during the day. 

For example, Economy 10 cheaper-rate hours could be:

  • Three hours in the afternoon (eg 1pm-4pm)
  • Two in the evening (eg 8pm-10pm)
  • Five overnight (eg midnight-5am).

One of the advantages of an Economy 10 tariff compared with Economy 7 is that you get some hours during the day. This can offer more flexibility for using your washing machine and tumble dryer for example, or boosting your heating when it’s freezing.

Times can vary between suppliers and in different parts of the UK – Scotland, for example, has different times to England or Wales.

Not many providers offer Economy 10 tariffs, and you may find it tricky to find a provider offering an Economy 10 meter if you haven’t already got one. You may find some willing to offer smart meter multi-rate tariffs.

Can I get a smart meter with Economy 7 and Economy 10? 

Yes you can, but not all energy providers offer this so your choices may be limited. If you can get one, it should help you see what you’re being charged under the different rates of the tariff. Hopefully this would make it easier for you to check that the tariff is still working for you.

What happens with Economy 7 and 10 when the clocks change? 

It depends on your provider and possibly your tariff. On an Economy 10 tariff, your afternoon hours could be 2pm-5pm during British Summer Time and 1pm-4pm during GMT. For others it will be the same times all year round, in line with the clocks changing.

If your supplier doesn’t match the change in hours, you might find that the times don’t suit you as well for six months of the year. You’ll need to take this into account to see if an Economy 10 or Economy 7 tariff is right for you.

This change in hours could make a big difference to the amount you save, depending on your pattern of use, so make sure you regularly review whether the tariff is still working for you.

Can I save with Economy 7 or Economy 10?

Economy 7 and 10 tariffs are designed to give you a cheaper electricity rate at for off-peak hours and a more expensive rate in peak periods during the day. There aren't any Economy 7 and 10 gas tariffs. Used properly, they could save you money. But whether you’ll benefit depends on your energy use habits. They are primarily designed for people who have storage heaters, so if you use a gas boiler for your hot water and central heating, it’s unlikely that an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff would be right for you.

If you’re using a hot water immersion that gets heated overnight, make sure your tank is well insulated so you’re not wasting energy. A thicker immersion jacket could be a good investment.

If you change your energy habits and patterns of use or your heating system without changing your tariff, you could find yourself overpaying as peak daytime rates can be expensive.

Who might benefit from an economy 7 or 10 tariff?

People who tend to use more energy at night might benefit from these tariffs. If, for example:

  • You’re a ‘night owl’ and watch TV or play computer games into the small hours
  • You charge your gadgets overnight or have a timer on your washing machine or dishwasher so they start during the off-peak period
  • You charge an electric car overnight – although it could be worth comparing specific tariffs for this
  • You have a hot water tank and storage radiators that heat up overnight and use the residual heat during the day. It’s particularly helpful if your night storage heaters and tank are on a separate electrical circuit that switches on as the economy period off-peak rate starts. 

It’s typically only worth signing up for an Economy 7 tariff if you use around 40-50% of your electricity at night. You also have to remember to be organised about your usage to maximise the benefits, for example having timers for particular appliances.

One word of warning though, the fire brigade recommends that you don't run your washing machines and tumble dryers unattended overnight because of the fire risk.

Other ways of saving on your power bills 

If Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariffs aren’t right for you, there are other ways of saving money on your power bills. You can reduce your energy use by turning your heating down, installing energy-saving lightbulbs and using lower temperatures when using your washing machine.

Making sure your property is well insulated can also reduce heat lost through the roof, and double glazing can reduce heat lost through windows.

See more energy saving tips.