Types of business energy meters in the UK

Your business needs meters and tariffs just like your home. Here we look in-depth into the different types of business energy meters for you to consider.

Disclaimer: The information on this page was last updated on 23/12/2022, 10:59:52

It’s not just at home you need to think about your energy usage, it’s at your business too. There are a number of different meters your business might have installed – a lot more than your home might.

What’s the difference between domestic and business energy meters?

If you run your business from home, you might have thought about changing your meter to a business meter. If you haven’t thought about it, you might want to.

Although the unit costs for both business and domestic meters are the same, the plans and tariffs are a lot different and it can be more complex switching providers.

The main differences when it comes to business energy meters are:

  • The cost – Suppliers will buy energy for commercial use in bulk while home usage is bought on a monthly basis. This means that your business can benefit from the cheaper bulk costs with a better rate, however, you will have additional charges such as VAT and the Climate Change Levy.
  • Longer contracts – Most home energy tariffs are around 1-2 years, however, business tariffs tend to be a lot longer. Because the supplier buys in bulk, business contracts are often around 5-6 years. Before you decide on a business meter, you’ll have to think about the future of your business and (while this may sound pessimistic) whether it will survive that long.
  • No dual fuel – Unlike home energy tariffs, you won’t be able to have dual fuel tariffs. You’ll have to have separate gas and electricity tariffs. While this might not sound difficult, it can be a pain keeping track of so many different tariff end dates.
  • Bespoke quotes – This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Each business has different energy demands so providers don’t offer the same one-size-fits-all tariffs they would for home use. They’ll assess the needs of each business and offer a bespoke quote to suit you. While this is ideal, having it tailored to your business’ needs, it makes it extremely hard to compare providers to find the best quotes.
  • No cooling-off period – When you sign up for your domestic energy tariff, you have a 14-day ‘cooling-off’ period where you can change your mind for free. However, businesses aren’t fortunate enough to have this. As soon as you sign the contract, there’s no going back.

Business energy meter types

Depending on your energy consumption and when your business operates, you could have one of the many types. There is only one meter type available to measure your gas supply, however, there are plenty of business meter types for your electricity meter.

Half-hourly meter

As the name suggests, this meter will take readings automatically every half an hour. These regular readings mean that you’ll only be paying for the energy you’re using, making sure your bills are precise.

These are similar to your home smart meters, which are now being phased out into businesses too. Smart meters cost a lot less to use so they’re more attractive to businesses wanting to cut costs.

If you have 00 or 05-08 in the upper left-hand corner of your MPAN, this means that you have a half-hourly meter. If you have an electricity consumption of over 100kWh per half an hour, you will also have a half-hourly meter, however, you can opt-in for one if you use over 70kWh.

Standard meter

A standard meter uses one rate when measuring your business’ energy consumption. They’re similar to home credit meters in that they have to be read regularly and meter readings sent off. No matter what time of day it is, you’ll be charged the same amount for each unit of energy used so they’re great for offices, cafes, shops, and other businesses which use most of their energy at peak times.

If you have a low energy consumption, you’re most likely to have a standard meter. Your MPAN will begin with 03 if you do.

Economy 7 meter

An Economy 7 meter has two different rates – one for the daytime and one for overnight (for 7 hours). Your nighttime usage will be a lot cheaper than your daytime usage so they’re great for businesses which are open later, outside of peak times.

While the off-peak times can be up to 50% cheaper, the daytime rates can be a lot more than they would on a standard meter. You would have to compare options and tariffs to make sure you are actually saving money.

Depending on your area and provider, the cheaper 7 hours can vary, so make sure you check that they suit your business.

Economy 10 meter

These are almost the same as Economy 7 meters in which there are daytime and night time rates, but the cheaper rates are for 10 hours rather than 7.

This is a likely choice for businesses open 24/7 or only overnight, however, the cheaper hours vary per area and provider so, depending on your opening hours, an Economy 7 meter might suit better.

Evening and weekend meter

These are similar to Economy 7 and 10 meters in which they have two different rates for night time and daytime, however, the cheaper rate is also applied all day at weekends.

Evening, weekend, and night meter

The Evening, Weekend, and Night meter uses three rates: one for daytime, one for the evening and weekend, and one for overnight use. The overnight rate will be the cheapest of the three, so is most used in nightclubs and similar businesses working overnight and at weekends.

Maximum demand meter

There are both 1-rate and 2-rate Maximum Demand meters. 1-rate meters are similar to Standard meters, where they use a single rate when calculating your business energy bill.

2-rate Maximum Demand meters are similar to Economy 7 meters as they use two rates and are cheaper during off-peak hours.

You might have one of these over a Standard or Economy meter because they are designed for businesses with high energy consumption (hence the name ‘maximum demand’). These have now turned into Half-Hourly meters, allowing providers to produce more accurate bills.

Seasonal Time-of-Day meter

These are the most complex meters as they calculate your energy rates depending on the different times, days, and even months. Your energy rates will vary massively across the year but they can be useful if your business has fluctuating periods of energy use, for example, if you have higher demand and working hours in certain seasons.

Related Off-Peak meter

If you have a related off-peak meter, you will have a second meter linked to your main meter. The second meter consumes less energy than the main meter and the off-peak rates for it will be cheaper.

While each meter will have a different MPAN, they’ll be on the same bill as if they were one meter.

Multi-metered MPAN

A Multi-metered MPAN suits businesses with larger groups or sites. You’ll have multiple meters connected together using just one MPAN. Your business’ main electricity will monitor all of the meters and will be billed on one invoice.

Smart meters for business

Just like smart meters are being rolled out in homes across the UK, they’re also being installed in business spaces.

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There are two types of smart meters available for businesses: Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) smart meters and SMETS2. If you use more than 100,000kWh of electricity or 293,000kWh of gas per year, you have the choice between an AMR and a SMETS2 (as long as you’re not a micro-business).

If your smart meter was installed after May 2018, you’ll more than likely have a SMETS2 meter. This is because they’re easier to use on the same network and should still work the same if you switch energy providers.

It’s free to install a smart meter for your business and it means you don’t have to worry about giving meter readings manually. They’ll all be sent over automatically at set intervals, so not only will your readings and invoices be 100% accurate, but smart meters also cost less to run.

Which business meter is the best for me?

Different meters will suit different businesses more than others. The table below sets out which meters we think will suit which type of business, but bear in mind that individual businesses will have different needs and isn’t a one-size-fits-all.

Meter type Business type
Half hourly
  • Retail
  • Office
  • Small-scale warehouse
  • Cafe
  • Office
  • Retail
  • Cafe
Economy 7
  • Nightclub
  • Late-night takeaway
Economy 10
  • Pub
  • Nightclub
  • Bar
Evening and weekend
  • Takeaways
  • Pubs
  • Restaurants
Evening, weekend, and night
  • Takeaways
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
Maximum demand
  • Superstore
  • Hotel
  • Large-scale warehouse
Seasonal time-of-day
  • Restaurant
  • Leisure facilities
  • Theatre
  • Stadium
Multi-metered MPAN
  • Large school
  • Building site
  • Multi-building warehouse
Smart meter All businesses

How to change your business’ energy meter

Having the wrong meter installed at your business premises can easily result in unnecessary costs. if you think that a different energy meter type might suit you better than your current meter, it’s easy to get a new one installed.

To change your meter, all you have to do is get in touch with your energy provider. Bear in mind that you might not be able to keep your current energy tariff on your new meter, so you might have to tell a new provider that you want it changed when you switch. You’ll need your MPAN, which can be found on your electricity bill.

If you’re planning on upgrading to a smart meter, your new meter will be free as part of the Government rollout, however, if you choose any other meter type, you might have to pay a fee on top of installation costs. In most cases, this can be negotiated to keep costs down.

If you’ve just moved into new premises, it’s worth finding out the current kilovolt-amperes (KVA) of the current supply. The KVA determines how much energy you can draw from the National Grid – the higher the KVA, the more energy you’re drawing and paying for. If you need to change this, simply get in touch with your energy supplier.

It can take a few weeks to organise your new meter installation, especially in new premises, so it’s advised that you should start the process a month beforehand if you already know which meter is in your new building and which you want to change to.

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