Economy 10 in 2021: more hassle than it’s worth?
Signing up to an Economy 10 tariff could help you save money during off-peak hours, particularly if you use energy-hungry appliances like electric storage heaters, washing machines and dishwashers mostly at night. So, what exactly is Economy 10, how much can you save and is it worth it?
What is Economy 10?
Economy 10 is an electricity tariff first introduced back in 2004 that charges two different rates: one for peak hours and another, lower, rate during off-peak times. This off-peak period lasts ten hours, usually split over three separate periods throughout the day. Economy 10 tariffs can either be fixed or variable rate plans.
Sometimes known as a ‘white meter’ tariff in Scotland, an Economy 10 plan can help significantly cut home energy bills for those using a lot of their electricity at night and other ‘off-peak’ times. Economy 10 is most effective in homes with electric storage heating or underfloor heating, which both store heat overnight and then release it in the day, when you need it.
In theory, cheaper energy prices during off-peak times should mean big savings for the customer. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that standing charges are generally quite high on Economy 10 plans and therefore you could end up paying more for your electricity if you use a significant amount of energy outside of these hours.
What’s the difference between Economy 10 and Economy 7?Similar to Economy 10, Economy 7 gives you seven hours of cheaper energy per day. However, with Economy 7 this off-peak time slot is usually at night only.
Economy 10 off-peak times
With Economy 10, the off-peak times can vary depending on your energy provider and the region you live in. However, to give you some idea of how the 10 hours are split, take a look at the example below.
Afternoon: 1pm-4pm (3 hours)
Evening: 8pm-10pm (2 hours)
Night: Midnight-5am (5 hours)
Some energy suppliers will change these times as the clocks go back and forth from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. Therefore 8pm-10pm in the evening could become 9pm-11pm. It’s worth checking with your supplier before you sign up to an Economy 10 tariff, to avoid ending up on a plan that doesn’t suit you for half of the year.
Making the most of Economy 10
As mentioned above, Economy 10 is best in homes with electric storage heating or underfloor heating, which can charge overnight during off-peak hours. As long as you’re not ramping up the electricity during peak times, Economy 10 tariffs certainly have their benefits and can work out cheaper than a standard plan.
However, to really benefit from Economy 10, you’re going to need to stick to a routine and be disciplined in your energy use. Use energy-heavy appliances and devices, such as the washing machine and dishwasher during off-peak hours. Even better, if an appliance has the ability to work on a timer, use it and set it during these off-peak times!
What is an Economy 10 meter?
If you sign up to an Economy 10 tariff you’re going to need a new type of meter installed. A ‘multi-rate’ meter can display two readings, letting you know how much energy has been used at off-peak times in comparison to that during peak hours.
Although your energy supplier may be able to provide the new Economy 10 meter as part of your tariff, you will likely be charged an installation fee. This could mean forking out between £50 and £130.
If you’re on an Economy 10 plan and would like to switch back to a standard tariff, that means swapping out meters again, and all the associated costs that come with it. Therefore, it’s always worth checking whether any potential benefits of Economy 10 are undercut by installation fees and standing charges.
How will the smart meter rollout affect Economy 10?
Smart meters include a portable digital display showing energy consumption in real time. This allows homeowners to know exactly how much gas and electricity they are using and see where they can cut down to save money.
As part of the government’s push, suppliers are providing smart meters for free. However, whether you can get one right now or not depends on your postcode and energy supplier.
The latest generation models, SMETS 2, are linked up to a secure network which is shared between all energy providers. This makes switching tariff or supplier that much easier and means an end to costly installation fees.
Installing a smart meter doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Economy 10, however. Get in touch with your provider directly to check if you can remain on your current Economy 10 tariff with a ‘multi-rate’ smart meter.
Economy 10 suppliers
One of Economy 10’s major downsides is that it’s just not supported by enough suppliers, and this number only looks like decreasing. As the UK makes the switch over to smart meters, more and more customers are turning away from Economy 10. Therefore, those in the market currently do not have any real competition for prices and may not offer the same value as simply switching to a cheaper fixed tariff.
- At the time of writing, the following suppliers all offer some form of Economy 10 tariff:
- EDF Energy
- Green Energy
- M&S Energy
Is Economy 10 right for me?
If you’re trying to decide whether an Economy 10 tariff is right for you, consider the following:
- Do you use natural gas for your heating or hot water?
- How much electricity do you use?
- When do you use that electricity?
If you have a gas boiler or central heating system, we'd say forget about Economy 10, as it only really benefits some electricity only households. If you’re someone who is out of the house most of the day but spend the majority of your time at home in the evening and at night, then Economy 10 could well be the right choice for you. This is because you’ll be paying the lower rate during the hours you most use energy.
Economy 10 can be particularly beneficial to households with electric-powered storage heaters. These heaters can be charged overnight at the lower rate and keep your house warm by releasing this low-cost energy throughout the following day.
How else can I cut my energy costs?
Remember, signing up for an Economy 10 tariff is just one way to reduce your consumption and save on energy bills. For some, it might actually be more effective simply changing some old habits instead. By just making a few minor adjustments, such as turning the room temperature down by just 1 ̊C and installing energy efficient light bulbs, you can save you up to 10% on your bills!
There is also a lot of help out there for those who need it most, such as households considered to be living in fuel poverty. For example, there are government-backed grants and schemes, such as the Cold Weather Payment, Pension Credit, the Warm Home Discount and the Winter Fuel Payment.
Furthermore, some energy providers, such as OVO, Scottish Power and EON offer their own programmes to assist vulnerable customers with their bills.
Signed up to an Economy 10 tariff and still out of pocket?Take a look at our consumption calculator tool to see how much energy you’re using and tips on how to curb it.
The Selectra verdict
Although Economy 10 was introduced as a money-saving measure for customers who don’t mind getting their energy during off-peak times, the truth is that, unless you are disciplined and can stick to those hours, you may actually end up paying more overall than on a standard tariff.
As a rule of thumb, you need to be able to use at least 40% of your daily electricity during off-peak hours, otherwise Economy 10 could end up being a waste of time and money.
Those with electric storage heaters can certainly benefit from Economy 10, but due to the schedules set by the supplier and region, it’s not always the most suitable plan for owners of some older models, which can require seven continuous hours of power to build up enough heat overnight.
Furthermore, with the UK in the process of a nationwide switch over to smart meters, the number of energy suppliers offering Economy 10 only looks set to decrease in the future.
Therefore, instead of signing up for Economy 10 in 2021 we would suggest first looking for a cheaper fixed rate tariff instead. For more information and to find a deal that suits you better, check out our guide to the cheapest electricity suppliers.