What is Economy 7?
Economy 7 is an electricity tariff that is officially classified as a ‘differential tariff’. This means the unit rate on your tariff will change according to the time of day. Each Economy 7 tariff has two unit rates, most of which are split into two time periods. This works by having two meters in your home. The more expensive peak rate applies to daytime electricity usage, while the off-peak rate, which is up to half the price of their normal rates, applies to the night, commonly between the hours of 12am-7am. These times differ depending on your location and supplier, as such you should check exactly what your time split is with your electricity provider. In Scotland these tariffs are called ‘White Meters’ due to the meters provided by energy companies; however, do follow the same principal. There are other economy tariffs relating to the amount of off-peak hours, such as ‘Economy 10’, but Economy 7 has proven to be much more popular.
NOTEThere are no Economy 7 tariffs available for gas.
Will I save money?
Economy 7 has the potential to save people a large amount; however, it does require a rather specific usage pattern, forcing people to change their consumption habits to take advantage of the cheaper off peak rates. Economy 7 was designed to help those, for example, that use a storage heater that stores thermal energy through the night and heats their home through the day, that are able to do their washing on a night, or those that perhaps wish to use their slow cooker overnight. If you are not able to take advantage of the night rate to its fullest, it’s likely that Economy 7 would not be a beneficial option for you. Because of the quite drastic reduction in price through the night of up to 50%, Economy 7 day rates are often quite a bit more expensive than normal, making them very ineffective for the majority of people.
When are the off-peak times?
There is no definitive time split that is universal amongst areas and suppliers; however, the most common off-peak period is between 12am-7am. Times will vary over location and supplier, meaning yours may not necessarily be the same as your neighbours or your relative who lives at the other side of the country. Occasionally the seven hour off-peak period is divided into two or more periods, meaning you’d need to be even more proactive with your consumption management. Below is an image made by Npower illustrating their Economy 7 off-peak rate times:
Times will commonly change when the clocks change twice a year for daylight saving.
NOTEIt’s important to check with your supplier what your off-peak hours are so that you don't manage your consumption incorrectly.
Switching to Economy 7
If you do not already have an Economy 7 meter installed in your home, the process can be a little tricky. You will have to have a second meter installed, often incurring a charge from your chosen supplier. Give your supplier a call for more information on costs and times specific to your situation.
Leaving Economy 7
If you no longer wish to have an Economy 7 tariff in your home, you will need to have a standard electricity meter installed. This can be done through your supplier; however, will often mean you will have to pay for this service. Give your supplier a call to clarify how long this will take and how much it will cost you.