Economy 10 in 2022: More Hassle Than It’s Worth?

Economy 10 meter displaying night and day tariff rates next to energy savings

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?


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What Is Economy 10?

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Economy 10 is an electricity tariff that is a dual-rate tariff (not to be confused with dual-fuel tariff). This means that on an Economy 10 tariff, you will have a normal On-Peak rate, and a cheaper Off-Peak rate.

Economy 10 tariffs were introduced back in 2004 and can either be part of a fixed or variable tariff. They can be economical and help you save if you’re using intensive energy throughout the day, but they can also work out to be more expensive if you don’t really need them.

What is the difference between Economy 7 and Economy 10? Economy 7 is a traditional dual-rate tariff that was introduced in the 1970s to help energy customers save on their heating. Typically, Economy 7 properties have storage heaters and use 7 hours of cheaper rates to heat them up during the night. Economy 10 works in a similar way but offers 10 hours of cheaper rates instead.

electricity-bolts

How Does Economy 10 Work?

You are normally charged for both a standing charge and unit rate by your energy company. On a single rate tariff, you are only charged one unit rate that remains the same throughout the day. With a dual-rate, your unit rate will change after a certain hour of the day.

On Economy 10, you will have an On-Peak rate and an Off-Peak rate that will switch automatically at a certain hour of the day. During your Off-Peak hours, you will be charged less per kWh of energy usage. These Off-Peak hours are usually split up into three periods during the day.

What is a kilowatt hour? A kilowatt hour (kWh) is equal to one unit of energy that is used by a household or business. The higher the number of kilowatt hours you use, the more energy you consume.

What Are the Economy 10 Times Off-Peak?

The Off-Peak hours for the Economy 10 depend on the region in which you live and the time of the year. Usually in Scotland and some areas of the North of England and Wales, the Off-Peak rate starts half an hour later than the rest of the country. It is also important to note that the Off-Peak rate starts an hour later during British Summer Time (BST).

Typically, an Economy 10 will offer three periods of the day when it will apply the Off-Peak rate. Here’s a table showing the standard Off-Peak times during Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for most of the country:

Economy 10 Off-Peak Times (GMT)
Period Time Hours
Afternoon 1:00pm - 4:00pm 3 hours
Evening 8:00pm - 10:00pm 2 hours
Night 12:00am - 5:00am 5 hours

Source: SSE Economy 10

Do I Need an Economy 10 Meter?

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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, this 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.

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How To Read an Economy 10 Meter

Reading an Economy 10 meter is like reading any other electricity meter, only you have two readings to take down instead of just one. Once you have a multi-rate meter installed, you will be able to see both readings for your On-Peak and Off-Peak rates respectively.

If you are on an Economy 10 tariff, you'll usually be able to give your meter readings as separate numbers on your online account. Alternatively, you can call your energy supplier to give the readings over the phone.

Can I Get an Economy 10 Smart Meter?

With the government’s plan to have a smart meter in most households by 2024, the old Economy 10 meters look set to become a relic of the past.

What is a smart meter? 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. They also send automatic meter readings to your supplier so you don’t have to call up every month!

Although many smart meters do support Economy 7 tariffs, it looks unlikely that providers will continue to offer Economy 10 tariffs to customers. However, Installing a smart meter doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Economy 10. Get in touch with your energy provider directly to check if you can remain on your current Economy 10 tariff with a ‘multi-rate’ smart meter.

What Is an Economy 10 Tariff Like?

An Economy 10 tariff will usually consist of a standing charge and with two unit rates, one for On-Peak hours and the other for the Off-Peak hours.

Economy 10 Tariff Rates

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Rates for an Economy 10 tariff are usually very difficult to find online. Usually suppliers will not publish the exact rates they will offer since it can be hard to assess your usage habits. If you are interested in an Economy 10 tariff, you should call your provider directly.

Compared to other tariffs however, Economy 10 usually offers a higher standing charge than on a regular single rate tariff. It might also be the case that in order to compensate for the lower Off-Peak rate, you might end up paying a higher On-Peak rate than on a single rate tariff.

Who Are 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:

Is Economy 10 Right for Me?

pro-cons

If you’re trying to decide whether an Economy 10 tariff is right for you, consider the following:

  1. Do you use natural gas for your heating or hot water?
  2. How much electricity do you use?
  3. 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 households. If you’re someone who is out of the house most of the day but spends 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.

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.

What If I Can’t Get Economy 10?

It is looking more and more likely that Economy 10 is being phased out by energy suppliers due to their complexity to integrate with smart meters as well as the fact the demand for it isn’t that high. So if you’re looking to save costs, you’d be better off looking at other ways to save on energy costs.

Other Ways to Save Energy

green-light-bulb

There are many ways you can save energy and on your bill without needing an Economy 10 tariff. The best way is to invest in the energy efficiency of your home such as installing energy saving light bulbs and improving your home insulation.

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 E.ON offer their own programmes to assist vulnerable customers with their bills.

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