Everything you need to know about Economy 7

If you're on a 'time of use' tariff, you'll pay different electricity rates at different times of the day and night. More commonly known as Economy 7, here's all you need to know.

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What is Economy 7?

Economy 7 is an energy price plan that charges a cheaper rate for electricity for seven night-time hours than during the rest of the day.

This means that for seven hours each night the unit costs for your electricity will be lower than the unit costs you pay during the remaining seventeen hours – it’s vital you plan your electricity usage around these hours, else you could end up paying more for your energy.

Why is it called Economy 7?

As you may have already guessed, the tariff is called Economy 7 as it offers seven ‘off-peak’ hours during which you can get cheaper electricity.

Similarly, there’s an Economy 10 plan that offers ten hours of cheaper electricity. Unlike Economy 7 though, which is only available during night-time hours, Economy 10 tariffs, also known as Heatwise, can also include off-peak hours during the afternoon, evening or very early morning.

What time does Economy 7 start?

The exact times your Economy 7 tariff starts and stops will depend where you live and which energy supplier you’re with, but will most likely be a consecutive seven-hour period between 10.30pm and 8.30am.

If you’re unsure of the exact times of your off-peak hours, check your latest energy bill or give your supplier a call.

How do you know if you’re on an Economy 7 meter?

Check your latest electricity bill to find out if you’re on Economy 7 – if your meter point access number (MPAN) begins with ‘02’ and you have two different rates, one for night and one for day, then you’ll be on Economy 7.

If you don’t have a bill to hand, you can check your electricity meter – if it displays two sets of numbers, one of which is marked ‘high’ and the other ‘low’, or there’s a set of numbers marked ‘day rate’ and you get the night reading by pressing a red button, then you’re on Economy 7.

If you’re still not sure, give your energy supplier a call.

Can you get an Economy 7 smart meter?

Although there's no specific Economy 7 smart meter available, if you're currently using an Economy 7 meter, you can still have a smart meter fitted and set up in an Economy 7 setting.

Will Economy 7 save you money?

In order to make sufficient savings with an Economy 7 tariff, you’ll have to make sure at least 40% of your electricity usage takes place during the night time ‘off-peak' hours.

Economy 7 tariffs actually charge more for energy used during the daytime hours than a standard energy plan would, and so are best suited to households that are usually empty and not using any appliances during daytime hours.

If you work shifts or late in to the evening, then Economy 7 could be a good fit for you – the important thing is that the plan fits in with your routine and lifestyle - if not, then you’ll most likely end up paying more for your energy.

If your house has electric storage heaters and a hot water tank, it’s worth considering Economy 7 as you can use the off-peak electricity hours to ‘charge' the storage heaters and heat all of your hot water for the following day.

In short, the more electricity you use at night, and the less you use in the day, the more money you’ll save.

How to switch to Economy 7

If you’re not currently on Economy 7, but think it could work out cheaper for you, here’s how to make the switch.

To run a gas and electric suppliers UK comparison, enter your postcode in the box below and then check ‘Yes’ when asked ‘Do you have Economy 7?'.

Then enter an estimate of roughly what percentage of your household energy is used overnight, and you’ll then be shown a breakdown of the cheapest Economy 7 deals around.

Then simply pick a deal and contact the supplier directly and asked to be switch to Economy 7 – it’s worth noting that it if you don’t already have an Economy 7 meter installed, you will need to have one fitted, and you may be charged for it.

If you have a smart meter, you’ll be able to use this for Economy 7, and so won’t need to have a new meter installed.

How to switch from Economy 7

If Economy 7 isn’t working out for you, you’ll need to contact your current supplier to find out how to make the switch, and whether you’ll need to have a new meter installed or can carry on using the existing one. Again, if you need a new meter, you may be charged for installation.

If your supplier doesn't offer Economy 7, you have to switch energy provider to one that does.

And whether or not you decide to go with Economy 7, check out energy saving tips page for some simple ways to reduce your energy usage and cut your bills.