Is Economy 7 worth it?

Cheapest tariffs for using electricity in the evening

An Economy 7 tariff gives a cheaper electricity rate at night and a more expensive one in the day. These tariffs are mainly for those who use night time storage heaters to heat their home and water. Done right, it can save you money. Done wrong, it can cost you more.

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What is Economy 7?

Economy 7 is an energy tariff that offers cheaper electricity rates during the night and pricier ones in the day. The cheaper off-peak rate usually runs from midnight to 7am, with a pricier peak rate throughout the rest of the day (though precise times vary by supplier).

Economy 7 is often called a 'time-of-use' tariff, as what you pay depends on when you use electricity. There are others, such as Economy 10, but these aren't very common anymore. All suppliers offer Economy 7 tariffs, but you'll need a smart meter or a dedicated Economy 7 meter to get them.

These tariffs are mainly intended for electricity-only homes, that use storage heaters or Economy 7 hot water tanks:

  • Storage heaters. These use electricity to warm up during the cheaper, off-peak hours. Heat-retaining bricks inside them store it up and release it throughout the next day, as needed. 

  • Economy 7 hot water tank. Also known as Economy 7 hot water cylinders, these come with two immersion heaters inside – one heats the tank during the cheap off-peak period, and you can use the other as a booster if you run out of hot water.

Some older Economy 7 meters are set to stop working next year 

Some older Economy 7 meters use what's known as the 'radio teleswitch service' (RTS) to transmit and receive data, which enables suppliers to switch your meter between day and night rates. 

The service was originally due to be switched off on 31 March 2024, but Energy UK has confirmed this deadline will be extended to 31 March 2025, to give energy suppliers more time to replace the one million RTS meters still in use. Meters relying on RTS could lose important functionality once the system is switched off. 

You can check if you have an RTS meter by seeing if you have a transmitter or teleswitch box next to your electricity meter. It may have a ‘Teleswitch’ label on the outside. Alternatively you can check on your electricity supplier's website, as some have a list of RTS meters with pictures.

If you think you have an RTS meter, contact your your supplier to find out when it can be upgraded  it will likely be replaced with a smart meter. We'll update this guide when we know more.

  • How do I check if I'm on Economy 7?

    The quickest way is to check your bill. An Economy 7 bill looks something like this, with night-time and daytime readings. See "electricity – day" and "electricity – night" on the right-hand side.

    Your bill will also have a meter point administration number (MPAN) somewhere on your bill. The top line of this should start "02". If your bill is confusing, call your supplier to check if you're on Economy 7.

  • How do Economy 7 meters work?

    Economy 7 meters vary wildly, even those from the same supplier. Some older systems have two meters – one for the off-peak rate, and a separate one for the peak rate.

    Others have just one meter that takes two readings. Older meters receive a radio signal that switches it to the off-peak rate. Modern ones receive a digital signal that does the same job.

    Some Economy 7 meters have two sets of numbers. One is usually marked "normal" (the pricey daytime rate), the other "low" (the night-time reading).

    Your supplier will be able to explain it for you if you're unsure.

  • Can I get an Economy 7 tariff for gas?

    No. Economy 7 tariffs are exclusively for electricity meters. They're usually found in homes that use electricity for heating and hot water, rather than gas. This generally means if you have Economy 7 for your electricity, you aren't able to get a dual-fuel tariff.

Economy 7: Key need-to-knows

If you're on Economy 7 (or thinking about it), here are our 12 need-to-knows to ensure you're making the most of it and don't get caught out by any nasty surprises when your bill comes.

  1. Economy 7 can be cheaper than regular single-rate tariffs – if you make the most of the cheaper rate

    With Economy 7, it's all about the price of the units and when you use them. If you have storage heaters or you're in an electricity-only household and you can use a decent amount of your electricity overnight during the off-peak periods, then it can work out cheaper than regular single-rate tariffs.

    As a rule of thumb, if you use around 40% or more of your electricity at night then it's likely worth sticking with.

    The problem is many people are still on Economy 7 when it's not right for them. Daytime rates can be hideous, so you can end up massively overpaying. If you use a very low proportion of electricity at night – for example, 10% – you'd typically be about £150 a year better off on a regular single-rate tariff. If that's you, see if you can switch to a single-rate tariff.

    Economy 7 typical annual savings with off-peak night usage

    TARIFF AND SAVINGS 10% USAGE OFF-PEAK 20% USAGE OFF-PEAK 30% USAGE OFF-PEAK 40% USAGE OFF-PEAK 50% USAGE OFF-PEAK 60% USAGE OFF-PEAK 70% USAGE OFF-PEAK
    Average Economy 7 tariff (1) £1,333 £1,266 £1,199 £1,131 £1,064 £996 £929
    Savings vs Energy Price Guarantee  -£159 -£91 -£24 £44 £111 £179 £246
    (1) Energy usage calculated at 3,900kWh/year. Average prices across all regions (average day rate 30.35p/kWh, average night rate 13.05p/kWh, average daily standing charge 59.55p/day).
    • How do I work out what proportion of my energy I use at night?

      You can work out your proportion of night and day usage with the numbers included on your bill.

      • Step 1: Check your bill. Look for something like: "Electricity used = 2,200kWh." This is the total units of electricity used over a certain period. It's an old bill, but the theory still applies.
      • Step 2: Check how your usage is split. Your bill should tell you how this total is split into night readings and day readings. For example, it might say 464kWh for night-time and 1,808kWh for daytime usage (as the example above shows).

      • Step 3: Work out the percentage. Now you can work out the proportion of your night-time and daytime usage.

        Divide your night-time usage by the total amount of energy you have used and then multiply by 100 to get the percentage. For the example above, it's (464 / 2,272) x 100 = 20%.

        So in this case, 20% of your electricity is being used at night – well short of the 40% benchmark.

      Here's the calculation to use with figures from your own bill.

      (kWh used at night / total kWh used) x 100 = % night usage

    • How can I max night-time use?

      Using Economy 7 successfully means making sure you stick to putting on appliances at night – but make sure it's safe to do so. Here are some tricks:
       

      • Grab cheap timers. Install timers on washing machines (if not already built in). Always shop around for the best price, but we found one for a fiver at Screwfix.com. They're easy to install – just plug the machine into the timer, then the timer plugs into the mains, like an adaptor.

      • Charge gadgets at night. Charge as much as possible during the cheap hours. It could be laptops, mobiles, or even your electric vehicle.

      • Use energy-efficient appliances. Economy 7 brings pricey daytime rates, so make sure the appliances you use during peak hours don't rack up your bill.

      • Make sure storage heaters are programmed correctly. The Centre for Sustainable Energy has a full guide on how to do this.

      Fire safety warning: Be careful what appliances you use during the cheaper overnight period. The fire service says you should never run the tumble dryer while you're asleep, as it's a common cause of fires in the home. 

  2. Providers' day and night rates vary massively – so check which one's best for you based on your usage

    There can be massive differences in the day (peak) and night (off-peak) rates each supplier offers.

    So depending on how much you use and when you use it, certain suppliers might be better for you – for example, if you use more than 60% of your electricity during the day, you'll pay more with EDF than you would with Ovo.

    The two tables below show the difference in average rates between providers' standard Economy 7 tariff and their standard normal, single-rate electricity tariff. Assuming 42% of electricity is used at night – the national average – an Economy 7 tariff could typically save you around £50 a year, compared to the Price Cap rates that most non-Economy 7 customers are paying right now.

    Average rates compared under the April to June 2024 Price Cap: Economy 7 vs electricity Price Cap rate paying by direct debit

    ENERGY PROVIDER AVERAGE PEAK (DAY) RATE AVERAGE OFF-PEAK (NIGHT) RATE AVERAGE STANDING CHARGE AVERAGE COST (1)
    British Gas 29.38p/kWh 14.64/kWh 60.33p/day £1,125/year
    EDF 30.06p/kWh 13.71p/kWh 60.34p/day £1,125/year
    E.on 32.06p/kWh
    10.95p/kWh
    60.33p/day
    £1,125/year
    Fuse 29.44p/kWh 12.28p/kWh 57.59p/day £1,077/year
    Octopus 30.41p/kWh
    13.22p/kWh
    58.27p/day £1,117/year
    Ovo 27.60p/kWh
    17.10p/kWh
    60.33p/day £1,125/year
    Scottish Power 29.89p/kWh 13.94p/kWh 60.33p/day £1,125/year
    Utility Warehouse 33.88p/kWh 8.43p/kWh 60.20p/day £1,124/year
    Price Cap (single rate) 24.50p/kWh

    24.50p/kWh
    60.10p/day £1,175/year

    Last updated: April 2024. Rates are averages, actual prices vary by region. (1) Based on regulator Ofgem's average usage figure for Economy 7 of 3,900 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year, paying by direct debit. Economy 7 assumes 42% off-peak usage.

     

    Off-peak rates usually run from midnight to 7am, with a peak rate throughout the rest of the day (though precise times vary by supplier).

    Note. The figures above are based on what Ofgem considers "typical use" for a household on Economy 7 (currently 3,900kWh a year). We think this is low for electric-only homes, so it's likely you'll pay more than this over a year, but it should give you an idea of how prices compare. 

    You can easily switch to a different supplier for better rates

    If you find another provider's Economy 7 tariff would be better for you, most suppliers are now accepting online switches to their Economy 7 tariffs again (many stopped when the energy crisis hit). See our Should you fix? guide for a full list of the current fixed deals that are available.

    If you do want to switch, make sure to compare what you pay now with the quote from the new supplier, based on the same day/night usage split.

  3. Economy 7 prices are capped – but day and night rates can still vary

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    Economy 7 prices are currently capped under Ofgem's Energy Price Cap, which controls the underlying rates we pay.

    However, the Price Cap does not set a limit on the day and night electricity rates for Economy 7. It's down to the energy suppliers to set these rates, as long as they don't exceed the overall Price Cap for a typical household.

    Based on the rates we've seen from suppliers, a typical household using 3,900kWh of electricity a year on an Economy 7 tariff, and using 42% of their energy at night, would pay £1,125/year under Price Cap from 1 April 2024. These rates will change again on 1 July 2024.

    However, as providers' day and night rates can vary, depending on how much energy you use and how much you use when the rate is cheap, it could be worth switching – see our provider-by-provider breakdown for full info.

  4. You can switch away from an Economy  7 tariff to a regular single-rate tariff if it's not right for you

    If you've an Economy 7 meter and think you'd be better off on a regular single-rate tariff, most suppliers – including British Gas, E.on Next, EDF, Octopus and Ovo – will let you switch without the need to change your meter.

    They'll simply add your day and night readings together, and just charge you the single rate for everything you use.

    But make sure to check with your supplier first, as it should be able to tell you how much it'll cost you on the regular single-rate tariff based on your current usage. You can then compare this to how much you currently pay.

    Some suppliers will change your meter for free

    You can also change your meter to get off Economy 7 – most big suppliers will do it for free, including British Gas, EDF, E.on Next and Ovo. If your provider does charge, you could switch to one that doesn't.

    Once your Economy 7 meter is changed, you should be put on to the supplier's standard capped tariff that almost everyone is on right now.

    If you have a smart meter, many firms will let you switch between Economy 7 and single-rate tariffs remotely

    One of the advantages of having a smart meter is that you can switch between payment methods – such as from direct debit, to prepay, to Economy 7 and back – painlessly as energy suppliers can do this remotely, without the need for an engineer to visit your property.

    Yet not all firms can offer Economy 7 tariffs on smart meters yet, so make sure to check with your supplier before getting them installed. You can find out more about smart meters below.

    • Which suppliers let you switch to/from an Economy 7 meter?

      Switching to or from an Economy 7 meter - by supplier

       

      Can an existing customer switch to/from a standard single-rate tariff meter from/to an Economy 7 tariff?

      Will it take on new Economy 7 customers from another supplier?

      Are there any charges for someone switching to/from a standard meter from/to an Economy 7 meter?

      British Gas

      Yes

      Yes

      No

      EDF

      Yes, if you have a smart meter or are willing to have one installed

      Yes, but only on to a standard variable tariff

      No (unless on a fixed tariff, then normal exit fees will apply)

      E.on Next

      Yes

      Yes

       

      No

      Octopus

      Yes, if you have a smart meter or are willing to have one installed

      Customers with an Economy 7 meter wouldn’t need to replace their meter to gain access to a standard single tariff.

      Yes No

      Ovo

      Yes

      Yes

      No

      Scottish Power

      Yes

       

      Yes

      Yes, unless your meter is faulty

      Shell

      Yes, if you have a smart meter or are willing to have one installed

      Yes

      No

      So Energy

      Yes, if you have a smart meter or are willing to have one installed

       

      Yes

      No

       

      Last updated April 2024.
  5. Double-check your off-peak times and be careful when the clocks change

    Always check exactly when your off-peak period begins and ends. The cheap periods on Economy 7 can vary between each supplier and by region. Off-peak usually starts at midnight and ends at 7am.

    But even if you're on those hours, off-peak might start at slightly different times each day. For example, one night it might start at 12.05am, but another night it may begin at 12.15am. It should only vary by a few minutes though.

    This happens because companies don't want all customers to turn appliances on at the same time, as it could overload the network, so they change the times. Get your supplier to tell you when your meter switches from the pricey rate to the cheap one.

    Be careful when the clocks change

    Many Economy 7 meters are set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). And some use clocks which STAY on GMT, even when the clocks go forward for British Summer Time (BST), as they do at the end of March.

    "That's bonkers in the 21st century," you might think. It causes problems because you could end up using electrical appliances during what you think is off-peak, when in fact you're paying the pricey peak rate.

    Find out EXACTLY what your cheap hours are during BST. Sometimes a supplier will slap a sticker on your meter, telling you off-peak and peak periods during GMT and BST. If you're not sure, ask your supplier.

  6. Make sure your meter is working correctly

    As you'll pay different rates at different times of the day, it's crucial your Economy 7 meter is tracking your use properly or you could end up overpaying. Here's a few things to watch out for...

    Ensure your meter's clock isn't on the blink

    Older mechanical clocks have been known to go on the blink. Check yours to make sure it hasn't thrown your off-peak hours completely out of sync.

    If the daytime reading on your Economy 7 meter is ticking over at night, or vice versa, call your supplier pronto to get it fixed. You might want to consider getting a smart meter instead, though not all firms offer them for Economy 7 tariffs.

    Call your supplier if your day usage soars

    If you start to use electricity far more during the day while on Economy 7, check your meter or call your supplier to find out how much you're using – and how much it's costing you.

    Don't leave it and let inertia get the better of you, that's often how energy companies make money out of customers.

    A common problem is that day and night readings can become confused:

    A few months ago I noticed that my meter was no longer incrementing the count for night usage and spoke to my energy firm about it. At one point, I went out to look at the meter a little after 1am and could see it was switched to day mode and was merrily counting up units. During the four months when it shows no use at night, the day usage went up by around 30% on average. I know for certain that the meter just wasn't switching to night mode.

    - Forumite Celtic67

  7. Not on Economy 7 yet? You can switch, but check it's worth it first

    It is possible to switch from a regular single-rate tariff to an Economy 7 tariff, but it's unlikely to be worth it unless you have an electricity-only home, or you use a huge amount of electricity each year.

    If that's you, and you're considering Economy 7, bear in mind you'll need to able to shift at least about 40% of your annual electricity usage to off-peak periods.

    To switch, you should first get a quote from your supplier and compare it with what you currently pay. You may need to have a smart meter installed before your tariff can be changed to Economy 7. If you already have a smart meter, many suppliers can switch you remotely to a new tariff.

  8. Do some energy-saving basics

    If you've concluded that Economy 7 is right for you and you're getting the best rate you can, try to cut your energy usage. Sensible changes can save you big time – we've loads of simple ways to reduce what you use.

    Check our 70+ energy savers checklist for pain-free changes, such as turning down your thermostat or tweaking your boiler's flow temperature. Also, see our Heat the human and Energy mythbusters guides for more tips.

    Plus, try our new interactive tool to help you cut your energy use and save £100s. You can click around a virtual house to find out how much things cost to run, as well as the simple changes you can make to save big on bills.

  9. There's lots of help if you're struggling to pay your bills

    Have you got all the help you qualify for? If you can't pay, check our Struggling to pay – energy help guide to see if there are any grants available to you.

  10. Do a meter reading every time you get a bill

    Don't rely on your energy provider's estimate as these are often way out. If it's under-billing, you'll have a big whack to pay when it gets an accurate reading. If it's over-billing, then it's unfairly got your cash.

    If your direct debit is way off kilter, call up and ask for it to be changed. You have a range of rights to ensure it's correct. See the full Energy direct debits guide for help.

  11. Check if you can get a smart meter

    A smart meter records how much energy you use and sends this data back to the supplier, usually once a month, but it can be daily or even half-hourly if you choose.

    It comes with a display monitor for your home showing you, at that moment, exactly how much energy you're using and the cost. You can see if you're racking up a large bill at any time, by checking if you're using too much during expensive daytime hours. Some firms will let you get a smart meter on an Economy 7 tariff, but not all, so do check with your supplier.

    See our Smart meters guide for more info.

  12. There are other 'time of use' tariffs, but they need a 'complex' meter

    There are several other 'time-of-use' energy tariffs, sometimes known as 'complex' tariffs. But they're now more of a legacy, and suppliers don't usually promote them to new customers.

    Economy 10 is one example. It's similar to Economy 7, but offers – you've guessed it – 10 hours of cheaper electricity rather than seven. These cheaper hours are usually split into three different periods, so you get extra boosts of cheap electricity during the day. It needs an Economy 10 meter too.

    Like Economy 7, you may find that some suppliers will let you switch to a regular single-rate tariff without the need to change your meter. However, it's a lot less common for Economy 10.  

    Your supplier may allow you to switch from Economy 10 to Economy 7, but you're likely to need a new meter installed. Double-check with your supplier – in some cases you might get charged up to £50.

    If you want to switch from Economy 10 to a normal meter, you may also get charged up to £50. Charges can vary, so check with your supplier.

    Other complex tariffs you may have heard of include, Economy 9, Economy 2000 and White Meter. Check with your supplier if you're not sure what meter or tariff you have.

Got a top Economy 7 tip we haven't listed? Feed back in the Economy 7 discussion.

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