Business Energy Meters Explained: The Expert Guide

Business man next to an energy meter

Looking to get your business energy connected, but unsure which type of meter is best for your needs? The right gas or electricity meter depends on a number of different factors, such as the size of your business and the hours it is open. Keep reading to discover the most common types of business energy meters and find out which is best for your business.

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Single-Rate Meters

Single-rate meters are used by most small businesses. With a single-rate gas or electricity meter, the unit rate (per kWh) remains constant throughout the day. This makes it a good choice for businesses which operate mainly from Monday to Friday, 8 am until 5 pm.

How can I tell if I have a single-rate meter?

You can tell if you have a single-rate meter fitted simply by taking a look at your latest business energy bill. You will find a 21-digit supply number in a box marked ‘S’. If this begins with ‘03’ your energy is running on a single-rate gas or electricity meter.

Two-Rate Meters

Two-rate meters charge two different unit rates, depending on the time of day you use energy. Energy used during the day is usually charged at a more expensive rate, while off-peak energy costs less.

Common examples of two-rate meters are Economy 7 and Economy 10, which offer cheaper rates during a seven and ten-hour off-peak window. Depending on which distribution network area your business is based in, your off-peak hours may vary. There are 14 distribution networks in the United Kingdom, each with its own off-peak window.

An evening and weekend meter is another two-rate option, with lower unit rates during the evenings and weekends and a higher rate during weekdays. 

Two-rate gas and electricity meters are usually best for businesses such as restaurants, shops and hairdressers, which use a lot of energy in the evenings and on weekends.

How can I tell if I have a two-rate meter?

Examine your most recent business energy bill to see if you have a two-rate meter installed. Find your supply number in the box labelled ‘S’. The supply number for a two-rate meter will almost always begin with a ‘04'.

Three-Rate Meters

Much like two-rate meters, with a three-rate meter, you pay a different unit price depending on the time of day. Three-rate meters are often referred to as evening, weekend and night meters as they apply a more expensive day rate, a less costly evening rate and an even cheaper night rate. 

Three-rate gas and electricity meters are generally best suited for businesses that operate 24 hours a day or those that are open late, such as pubs and night clubs.

Half-Hourly (HH) Meters

As the name suggests, half-hourly (or HH) meters take readings every 30 minutes. The meter then sends this information directly to your business energy supplier through a network, allowing for more accurate billing.

Large businesses which use 100 kilowatts or more of electricity every 30 minutes, such as warehouses, factories, and large offices, are required by law to have a half-hourly meter fitted. 

Businesses that use 70 kilowatts or more of electricity every 30 minutes can also opt to have a half-hourly gas or electricity meter installed if they wish. 

Businesses with a half-hourly meter will have a Maximum Import Capacity that has been agreed upon. This represents the maximum amount of energy a business can take from the grid at any given time and is used by the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to ensure that supply meets demand in your area. 

The DNO will bill you an Excess Capacity Charge if your business exceeds its agreed-upon capacity. This charge is paid directly to your business energy supplier and will appear on your next statement.

How can I tell if I have a half-hourly rate meter?

Take a look at your most recent energy bill to see if you have a half-hourly meter installed. In a box labelled ‘S,' you'll find a 21-digit supply number. If this starts with ‘00', you have a half-hourly meter.

AMR Devices

Automated Meter Reading (AMR) devices are often used by bigger businesses that do not use enough energy to require a half-hourly meter. AMR devices also automatically share half-hourly readings with your business energy supplier. Businesses will usually pay fees to an AMR provider, which cover the meter itself, as well as the transmission network costs.

Smart Meters

Similar to a half-hourly meter or AMR device, smart meters send readings directly to your business energy supplier, eliminating the need to take and submit your own annual meter readings. 

Smart meters come with a digital display that shows how much energy your business is using in pounds and pence at any given time. As a result, they can be an excellent tool for tracking and reducing your gas and electricity consumption.

It’s worth noting that you won't need a smart meter if your company already has a half-hourly meter or an AMR device, as your readings are already automatically logged with your business energy supplier.

Multi-Site Meters

A multi-site meter can help you keep track of your energy usage across all of your locations if you run a business with multiple premises.

With a multi-site gas and electricity meter, you can often combine all of your business energy products into one package with one supplier with a multi-site energy deal, making your business energy usage easier to manage, and often cheaper too.

Three-Phase Meters

If you run a larger industrial or commercial business that consumes a lot of energy, you may require a three-phase meter, which allows you to tap into much more power from the grid.

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Save an average £1,305* on your business energy bills when you switch with Selectra.

Not to be confused with a three-rate meter, three-phase meters are most often used by businesses with high-power machinery. A three-phase system reduces power loss, transmits energy more efficiently, and improves employee safety as it delivers a constant electrical load.

The majority of three-phase meter models have a screen display, allowing you to read the meter yourself. However, unlike smart meters and half-hourly meters, three-phase energy meters do not send data about your usage to your supplier. 

How can I arrange to have a new business energy meter installed?

Once you’ve decided on which business energy meter is right for your needs, you should follow these steps to arrange your new meter installation.

  1. Find your business energy supply numbers. These are unique numbers that identify your property's supply. The electricity Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) can be found on your most recent electricity bill, while the gas Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) can be found on your most recent gas bill.
  2. Negotiate. While smart meter installations are usually free, you may be charged a fee for any other type of business energy meter installation. However, this is usually negotiable, so we recommend trying to haggle over your business energy meter costs.
  3. Book your appointment. Your business energy supplier will assess the work that needs to be done and schedule a date for installation once you've agreed on the type of meter and installation costs. Billing will begin once you’re up and running, according to the terms you and your supplier agreed upon.

How long does it take to install a new business energy meter?

A new business energy meter typically takes between five days and two weeks to install. However, if you're having an additional meter fitted, it could take up to 12 weeks because extra work may be required at your business premises. 

As a result, we recommend that you begin the process of arranging for the installation of a new business energy meter as early as possible. Speak to a business energy expert today to find the best deal for your business. Call 020 3318 3633 or get an online quote and start saving now.

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