There are 3.9 million homes in the UK that use an Economy 7 electricity tariff, benefiting from cheaper off-peak energy at night. But Which? research has found that many households could save money by switching to a single electricity tariff.
To get the most out of Economy 7, you need to use as much of your electricity as possible during your ‘low’ night-time hours. From our own surveys, however, we found that 46% of you choose to use appliances regardless of whether it’s during your cheaper off-peak hours or not.
We calculated that Economy 7 customers for five of the Big Six energy companies (the exception is British Gas) would need to use 28-32% of their electricity at night in order to pay less than single electricity customers. This figure rises to 46% for British Gas customers (although British Gas believes this figure should be 44%).
Many households would find it difficult to use that much electricity at night. If you don’t have a storage heater, you would probably need to run a tumble dryer plus dishwasher or washing machine every night to get close to using enough – which is noisy and a potential fire risk.
Whatever tariff you’re on, make sure you’re saving as much money as possible by getting the best energy deal – visit our independent switching site Which? Switch.
British Gas Economy 7 customers
If British Gas customers used only 30% of their electricity at night, they could be losing around £81 a year by staying on Economy 7.
British Gas said that it had proactively written to all its Economy 7 customers to tell them if they could save money by switching to a single rate tariff. Whether a customer should switch will also feature on their bills and statements, and customers can make this switch without having to change their meter.
British Gas actually offers the cheapest standard single electricity tariff of all the Big Six. But what do its customers have to say about its customer service? We asked 8,500 energy customers about their suppliers so that we can reveal the best and worst energy companies.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘It’s worrying that customers on Economy 7 tariffs, that are meant to help you save money, could be paying over the odds. If you’re unsure whether you’re on the right deal get in touch with your energy supplier straight away to check, or look into switching to another company.’
If you, or anyone you know, is on an Economy 7 tariff, take a look at your electricity bills. You can use them to work out how much energy you’re using at night – if this is less than 28%, you could save money by switching to a single electricity tariff.
Our research: we surveyed Which? members on Economy 7 tariffs to find out about their usage. All figures for online, direct debit tariffs calculated using prices as at 15 July 2014 for both Economy 7 and single electricity standard tariffs, including all discounts and VAT. Calculations based on consumption figures for a medium user on Economy 7 (4,600kWh).