If you're regularly using most of your energy during the evening or throughout the night, you could save money by changing your current electricity contract to a 'time of use' tariff such as Economy 7, or Economy 10.
These tariffs offer a cheaper rate of energy during certain times of the day, helping you pay less for electricity. However, be aware that you can be charged higher rates if you use energy during the daytime, or what is considered peak hours.
Economy 10 is a specific plan that gives up to 10 hours of cheaper, off-peak electricity across a 24 hour period. Normally, these hours would consist of seven hours at night and three hours during the day.
Off-peak rates are usually half the standard amount of normal energy plans. However, although you can take advantage of the low rates for electricity, you will need to bear in mind that for the remaining hours of the day standing charges are often more expensive.
The off-peak times will vary by supplier and not all suppliers will offer Economy 10 plans.
Economy 10 is designed to work with properties that use electrically heated wet radiator systems rather than gas or oil heating. This is due to savings only being made on electricity usage rather than gas.
Using high-output appliances during the night, such as dishwashers, tumble dryers or washing machines can help bring down costs as you'll be using the cheapest energy. Heating systems, such as underfloor heating and electric storage heaters, can also help as houses will retain heat for the daytime.
However, even though you could be saving money during off-peak times, peak rates are usually more expensive and you could be caught out with a higher bill if you're using too much electricity during these times.
If you're on an Economy 10 meter you will have one meter that has two or three rates, dependent on your energy supplier.
As there are more readings to take, Economy 10 meters can seem more complicated than standard ones. The amount of readings will be subject to the tariff you're on with your supplier but generally they will display:
You should be able to scroll through these readings, or your meter will cycle through them automatically. Make sure you pass on all readings to your supplier in order for them to bill correctly.
If you're still on a standard meter and wish to switch to an Economy 10 tariff then you'll probably need a new meter installed. Contact your energy supplier to arrange this for you, and there may be a fee attached.
The use of Economy 10 meters is declining due to the rise of smart meters but there are still a number of suppliers who offer full support, including installation and maintenance of Economy 10 meters and tariffs. Contact your energy supplier in the first instance to discuss your current electricity contract.
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