What is Economy 7 and how does it work?

If you want to learn more about your Economy 7 meter or want to change to one, read our ultimate guide to find out what they are and how they work.

Disclaimer: The information on this page was last updated on 23/12/2022, 13:24:48

You might have heard us talking about Economy 7 meters in our other guides and wondered what they are, or maybe you have one yourself and want to find out more. Either way, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you understand what an Economy 7 meter is and how it works. As always, we’ve got you covered.

What is Economy 7?

Economy 7 is a type of energy plan used alongside special meters which allows you to pay different amounts for your energy depending on what time you use it. With Economy 7, there will be 7 hours overnight where you could be paying up to 50% less for your energy than you do during the day.

How does Economy 7 work?

If you’re on an Economy 7 tariff, you’ll have two electricity meters to give you the two separate readings – one for your daytime use and one for overnight. You’ll have to give both of these readings to your energy provider to make sure that they are charging you the right rates at the right times.

An Economy 7 meter is best suited for those who can use most of their energy overnight, for example, if you have a storage heater or electric vehicle, or if you can use your energy-heavy appliances overnight.

How will I know if I have an Economy 7 meter?

One of the easiest ways to know is by looking at your most recent electricity bill. Your bill will be broken down into two parts – one for each rate. You can also look at the MPAN at the bottom of your bill. If you have an Economy 7 meter, it will start with ‘02’.

Alternatively, you can have a look at your meter. If there are two readings available, you’ll be on Economy 7 as well. Alternatively, there might be one reading marked ‘day’ or ‘low’ rate, and you press the button to reveal the ‘night rate’.

Is Economy 7 available for gas or just electricity?

Unfortunately, Economy 7 is an electricity-only plan. The reason for this is that it’s not convenient to use most of our gas-powered appliances overnight because they’re normally used for cooking and heating. It could also be a health risk using gas overnight as you won’t notice a leak as quickly.

However, even though you won’t get the cheaper rates at night, you also won’t have expensive rates during the day so you’re free to use your appliances whenever without paying extra for them.

How do I read my Economy 7 meter?

If you have an Economy 7 meter, you’ll have to submit two readings to differentiate the two different rates.

Your night reading might be referred to as a ‘low rate’ on your meter. Read this number from left to right, including zeros and ignoring any numbers in red.

Your daytime reading might be referred to as a ‘normal rate’ and should be underneath your night reading. You should read this number from left to right, including zeros and ignoring any numbers in red.

If you have an electronic Economy 7 meter, you will only be able to see one reading at a time. Press the button next to your reading to switch between the two rates. Ignore any numbers after the decimal point. Your daytime rate will be displayed next to a ‘4’ and your night-time rate will be displayed next to a ‘5’. If you want to see your total usage, press the button again to the number displayed next to a ‘6’.

You’ll have to give these readings separately so your energy provider knows how much to charge you.

What happens if I submit my Economy 7 meter reading the wrong way round?

If you accidentally submit your Economy 7 day and night rates the wrong way round, it’s important that you get this fixed. It’s likely that you use a lot of your energy overnight if you have an Economy 7 meter, and you don’t want to be paying the higher daytime rate for this.

All you have to do if you’ve submitted your economy 7 meter reading the wrong way round is to contact your provider and let them know. They’ll be able to manually re-enter them for you so there is no confusion between the two rates next time you send your readings.

Can I have an Economy 7 prepayment meter?

Energy providers don’t often give a concrete yes or no answer to this question.

Some providers support Economy 7 prepayment meters but some don’t. It can be tricky to work out which do and which don’t, so you’ll have to ring your chosen provider to find out.

The most likely providers to support Economy 7 meters are prepayment-only providers such as Boost and Utilita.

When are the cheap and expensive Economy 7 times?

The Economy 7 times vary depending on your provider and where you live, however, the most common times for cheaper energy are:

  • 11pm-6am
  • 12.30am-7.30am
  • 1am-8am
  • 1.30am-8.30am

Your Economy 7 times might change when the clocks go forwards and backwards. For example, during the summer, your night-time rates might be between 1am and 8am, but when the clocks change for the winter, this could change to between 12am and 7am.

Always check with your supplier to make sure you’re using your energy at the right times.

Advantages and disadvantages of Economy 7

Economy 7 meters aren't for everyone, but we've weighed up the pros and cons for you to consider.

Pros Cons
  • Much cheaper energy overnight – up to 50% cheaper!
  • Large savings if you use over 40% of your energy at night
  • Save money by charging your electric vehicle during the cheaper hours
  • Heating your storage heater overnight is cheaper
  • Energy costs a lot more during the day
  • If your circumstances change it might not benefit you any more
  • There is a very limited choice of tariffs and providers
  • Submitting meter readings is more complicated
  • You might not be able to use enough energy overnight
  • It’s only for electricity

Can I still get a smart meter?

Give accurate, automatic meter readings ⚡️

Did you know that with a smart meter you may never have to submit a meter reading again! 100% accurate bills, all the time. Give us a call to find out more about automatic meter readings.

020 3992 7717

You might still be able to upgrade to a smart meter with Economy 7, however, not all providers support this yet. Most of the ‘Big Six’ can install smart meters with an Economy 7 meter, however, it might be hard to find another provider which does.

Octopus Energy has smart tariffs similar to Economy 7 which you can switch to without needing an Economy 7 meter. It’s a lot cheaper than most Economy 7 tariffs you’ll find and comes with a free smart meter.

Can I switch to a standard tariff?

If you’ve decided that an Economy 7 meter isn’t right for you any more, you might want to change to a standard tariff. Some providers will let you do this without having to change your meter – they’ll just add the day and night readings together and charge a single rate.

However, some providers might have to change your meter. Most providers will do this for free, however, some might charge a hefty fee as well as any exit fees from your current tariff.

If you do change your meter, check which tariff you’re on afterwards as your provider might put you on their default tariff first. Most providers’ default tariff is the most expensive they have, so make sure you compare and choose the right tariff for you.

For help switching tariffs, call Utility Switchboard on

020 3992 7717

How much can I save?

We’ve taken some of the most popular energy providers and compared their unit costs for a credit meter against an Economy 7 meter.

Provider Standard meter rate (per kWh) Economy 7 day rate (per kWh) Economy 7 night rate (per kWh)
British Gas 16.96p 21.386p 10.162p
EDF Energy 15.95p 17.46p 10.14p
Bulb 16.081p 18.036p 8.748p
Octopus Energy 15.876p 17.293p 10.773p

In order to make any significant savings, you’ll have to be able to use at least 42% of your electricity at night during the cheaper Economy 7 times.

How to make the most out of Economy 7

If you’ve decided Economy 7 is for you, you’ll want to make the most of it to benefit from maximum savings. Here are a few tips to help you save as much as you can.

  • Double-check your Economy 7 times – Because Economy 7 times vary by provider and area, make sure you know when the rates switch over. This stops you from accidentally using a lot of energy during peak times when it’s more expensive. Don’t forget that the times also change when the clocks change!
  • Maximise your night time usage – In order to see any significant savings, you’ll have to use at least 40-50% of your energy during the cheaper Economy 7 times. Try and use as many appliances that you can overnight. Set your dishwasher, washing machine, and anything that needs charging to be done overnight.
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances – Any energy used by appliances you can’t use overnight will be a lot more expensive. If you invest in energy-efficient appliances, you’ll be using less energy during the day.
  • Make sure your meter’s clock is working properly – Older, mechanical Economy 7 meters are known to go on the blink. Check that the clock is working properly and it’s reading the right rates at the right times.
  • Check you’re on the right tariff – While there aren’t many tariffs available for Economy 7 customers, some are designed for different uses. If you’re taking advantage of the low rates to charge your electric vehicle, a lot of providers have tariffs explicitly designed for that purpose.
  • Switch energy providers – Even though some providers don’t support Economy 7, there are lots out there that do. By switching, you might be able to save even more.
  • Cut down on overall energy usage – Even if you’re making significant savings by having an Economy 7 meter, cutting down on your energy usage both during the day and at night can help save you money as well as improving your carbon footprint.

Would I benefit more from an Economy 10 meter?

An Economy 10 meter works the same as an Economy 7 meter, however, you get 3 extra hours of cheaper off-peak energy. These are normally during the early afternoon. It might be easier to use more of your energy during off-peak times with an Economy 10 meter, however, you have an extremely limited choice of provider and tariff – even less than with Economy 7.

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