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Last updated: 25 July 2019

Guide: Is Economy 7 the Best Saving Solution?

What Is Economy 7?

Economy 7, called White Meter in Scotland, is a differentiated management tariff that allows the price per unit to vary with consumption. Provided to the consumer through special meters, it can lower your utility bill if you have the necessary timers to control the heaters and appliances that will work during the night. No matter that it depends on your tariff, region and usage, Economy 7 is an optimal solution for your household only if you use about 50% of your electricity during the night.

You should also keep in mind that you will be able to use Economy 7 with some heating solutions like storage heaters and heat pumps as well as a number of kitchen appliances like a tumble dryer, washing machine and dishwasher. Before switching to Economy 7, ask yourself if it makes sense based on your usage and needs. Further, if your kitchen appliances are modern and designed to save electricity, Economy 7 might not be the best option for you.  

One of the reasons is that Economy 7 customers get higher day rates than those on Standard tariff. Therefore, check eligibility and compare prices to other tariffs in your region. Find out whether Economy 7 is a good solution in your particular case before switching.

What Is Your Objective With Switching to Economy 7?

It is obvious that Economy 7 is not thought of as a programme supporting customers that want to save money. Rather, its purpose is to punish you if you are not disciplined. The reason? Economy 7 is designed in a way that helps electric companies to spread the electricity load during the day and transfer a part of it during the night. So, if your objective is to save money or electricity, then think of renewable energy. The grants and incentives for going green and producing energy from sustainable resources are designed to your advantage and would better support your objective to save money. Such solutions are heat pumps, solar panels and wind turbines. Among them, air-source heat pumps would be the best solution for flats and houses in urban areas.

I Have Storage Heaters. Shall I apply for Economy 7?

Yes! Storage heaters work well with Economy 7 because they are designed as heat storages with electrical elements that can be switched on and off. Therefore it is a good idea to use them with a two-tariff electricity meter like those of Economy 7. You need only to set the timer so that the storage heater is warmed during the Economy 7 night hours and then leave it to emit the stored energy during the day. It is a good idea to install Economy 7 Timeswitch, designed to be used with off-peak rate overnight electricity plans. This timer will allow you to manually adjust the time span on night hours.

Depending on your objective, storage heaters may prove to be either a good or a bad investment. If you decided to install a storage heater in your country house, where you spend little time, Economy 7 would be a good, money-saving solution. Both storage heaters and Economy 7 have controls, that make them easy to adjust. In this case, it is a good idea to check if you use the optimal controls and thermostats as well as whether your habits comply with the recommendations described by the Energy Savings Trust.

However, if your objective is to save money, it is not a good idea to have storage heaters at the place, where you live permanently. The best solution, recommended by the Energy Savings Trust is to replace the storage heaters with either a heat pump or any other conventional heating system like gas, radiators or underfloor heating. The benefit of installing a renewable technology like a heat pump instead of a conventional heating system is that you will be eligible for grants and incentives if you fulfil the necessary requirements.

If your objective is to increase the heat output at your home and you still want to have storage heaters, you may combine them with a heat pump. However, check if you will be eligible for grants and incentives in this case.

In the end, it is important to remember that the heating solution you choose, should suit your personal needs and lifestyle.

I Have a Heat Pump. Is Economy 7 Something for Me?

Yes! Heat pumps are a great solution for households that want to both save money and install environmentally friendly heaters. Along with the government grants and incentives, Economy 7 is a great solution for those households that have good controls in place for both a heat pump and kitchen appliances that can run during night hours.

GUIDE: Is Economy 7 for Me?

Economy  7: Checklist For Those New to Economy 7

For those, who have just moved to Economy 7, we have made a list of advice that will help you get used to this tariff and make the most of it.

First, set the timers of the appliances you have planned to use with the cheaper, Economy 7 to run during night hours.

Secondly, Economy 7 hours vary depending on region, so make sure that you set up your timers for the appropriate time span.

Thirdly, If your dishwasher, tumble dryer or washing machine lacks inbuilt timers, install a separate plug-in timer adapter. However, how the appliance will start working without you pressing the start button can be an issue with external adapters and you should make further inquiries about it.

Fourthly, be disciplined with your usage, because Economy 7 can be costly. If your washing machine, for example, runs on the cheaper Economy 7 during night hours, a machine cycle on the cheaper rate might cost you around 9p compared to 30p during the day. That is related to the more expensive daily rate of Economy 7 compared to Standard tariff.

Lastly, keep in mind that if your neighbours below or upstairs might object the spin cycle of your washing machine in the early hours of the day. Think carefully how much you can really save with Economy 7, especially if you are prevented from using the optimal number of appliances during the night.

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