Not many people know what meter type should be and whether or not the one they have installed is right for them – Economy 7 or Standard.
I have seen houses with Economy 7 meters installed that use very little or no off peak electricity. I have see businesses with Maximum Demand meters in applications where they only use a few office lights. The reason I see so many meters that are wrongly installed is that more often than not the energy demand for the premises in question has changed due to a change of use.
The Economy 7 is a fairly easy one to understand. Anyone who builds a house can apply for an Economy 7 meter, which may be the correct thing to do if they plan to install some form of electric storage heating in the house. This is a common thing to do when building a house in a rural location.
A few years down the line someone else may buy the house and decide that electric heating is expensive so they decide to rip out the storage heaters and replace the heating system with a wet system (usually LPG or Oil if in a rural location). Now what the new occupier tends to forget to do is change the electricity tariff. Now this isn’t a problem other than the fact that with Economy 7 the day rate (17 hours of day time electricity usually between 7am and 12 midnight) is significantly higher than the off-peak rate (12 midnight to 7am). So the new occupant who thinks they are saving money buy installing a new heating system are in fact being penalised for the electricity they use simply because they have the wrong meter. This shouldn’t be a problem should it?
Well if you take a typical house that uses 4,000 kWh of electricity when using a wet heating system (assuming heating is LPG), 90% of electricity used is likely to be supplied during the high tariff period (day rate 20p/ kWh) and 10% supplied during the low tariff period (say 10p/ kWh). The annual cost for a household based on this profile will be £760. Now if the householder were to change their meter and change it to a “Standard” meter (a smart meter) then their annual electricity cost would reduce to £600 for the same consumption (assuming a standard rate of 15p/kWh which is about average in the market – check with The Comparison Centre). For no reason other than the original meter is wrong for the change in use of electricity, the householder is paying £160 per year more than they actually need to. The solution is simple – request a new standard smart meter from the Distribution Network Operator (the meter owner and operator).
This can of course work in reverse. If a household uses more electricity at night (between 12 midnight and 7am) then they should request an Economy 7 meter be installed. This would then allow them to take advantage of the off-peak rates on offer. This is a good option for people considering the installation of batteries whereby they can load the batteries at night (10p/ kWh) and then let them discharge during the day and so displace high rate electricity (displacing 20p/kWh electricity).
In the case of commercial premise, the same issues arise. If a warehouse which once had a heavy electricity use is turned into office but the electric meters not changed then the occupants will still be paying for a Maximum Demand supply. Having a maximum demand supply means that the owner will be paying for charges they do not need to pay for such as ‘capacity charges” or “maximum demand” charges. Changing the meter to a profile 3 or 4 meter will save the business owner hundreds if not thousands over a duration of time.
Knowing when you use energy, how much energy you use and the peak demand required (the instantaneous demand) will help your supplier properly access what meter best meets your requirements. If you don’t already know your profile of use then our suggestion is that you monitor your supply and determine what the profile of use is for a typical day, week and month. Once you have this you or your supplier will be able to determine what meter best fits your needs.
Getting your meter type right could save you a lot of money (whether domestic or business) and so it is worthwhile doing a bit of monitoring to understand your profile of use. If your current energy supplier can’t provide that then you may wish to consider buying or renting your own meter logger to allow you to do it yourself.
First step is to ask you energy supplier for a profile of use. If they can’t do that then simply go and do your own monitoring. This really could save you a lot of money.