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Economy 7: Is it worthwhile? Your views pls!
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# 1
Former MSE Marcel
Old 25-04-2013, 1:12 PM
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Default Economy 7: Is it worthwhile? Your views pls!

Hi everyone I'm new to MSE and putting together a guide on Economy 7. I'm looking for info on whether it really works out as being cheaper than even the cheapest, single rate tariff deals.

I'd like to know about any problems with Economy 7, of any kind, inc accuracy of the clocks used by meters, i.e. do they automatically switch when the clocks go forward? Anecdotal evidence suggests they don't. Also, what proportion of electricity usage at night, do you think you have to use to make Economy 7 pay? For ex, 20%? 30%?

Any experiences of costs incurred via switching to a single rate from Economy 7 (i.e. how much different cos charge to change meter), would also be great, thanks!
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# 2
Wywth
Old 25-04-2013, 1:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSE Marcel View Post
Hi everyone I'm new to MSE and putting together a guide on Economy 7. I'm looking for info on whether it really works out as being cheaper than even the cheapest, single rate tariff deals.

I'd like to know about any problems with Economy 7, of any kind, inc accuracy of the clocks used by meters, i.e. do they automatically switch when the clocks go forward? Anecdotal evidence suggests they don't. Also, what proportion of electricity usage at night, do you think you have to use to make Economy 7 pay? For ex, 20%? 30%?

Any experiences of costs incurred via switching to a single rate from Economy 7 (i.e. how much different cos charge to change meter), would also be great, thanks!
It depends on the amount of cheap rate electricity you consume compared to the overall amount.

This break even ratio varies with supplier, tariff and supply region.

If you play about with some figures on any comparison site, you will soon see for yourself how much it can vary.

I fear, with the limited amount of information you have requested in this thread, you are likely to get a number of people saying I paid x per month until I changed to/from E7 and now pay y per month. Totally meaningless.

Regarding the cost to change a meter, well it may not even be necessary. Some suppliers will charge a single rate tariff, despite the user having an E7 meter. (Obviously you can't get E7 without an E7 meter) Other suppliers don't charge for a meter change.

Infact, I only know of one of the big 6 suppliers that will not either provide a single rate tariff on an E7 meter or provide a free meter change. That supplier is Scottish Power. I believe they currently charge 45.91, but if you email the SP rep, I'm sure they will happily confirm the exact figure for you.

Edit:
e.g. according to EnergyHelpline, an electricity customer consuming say 8000kWh per year supplied in the East Midlands area (and uses 55%, the default amount the comparison site uses for E7 usage, during the low rate period) gives the following cheapest results:

Single rate tariff:
nPower - energy online aug 2014 - 939 p.a

E7 tariff:
Flow energy ((new supplier, just launched) Thames - 806 p.a
Scottish Power Online Energy Saver 21 - 832 p.a


I also remember reading this thread - it's a few years old now so doesn't apply today but it indicated E7 from SP would always be cheaper (in the specific supply region) than the equivilent non-E7 no matter what percentage overnight usage was
http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/....php?t=1207887

But it's not clear if the SP tariff was the cheapest for everyone (that would probably depend on level of usage), and I think it only compared no standing charge tariiffs (which were common) that were paid quarterly on receipt of bill.


Regarding clocks, and their accuracy - well that depends.
Our clock has been wrong by a number of hours (not complete hours) for years - no one is interested.
I noticed recently the clock went forward by an hour in accordance with BST, so assume it is remotely controlled somehow, but it's still wrong; it just shows an hour ahead of the time it would have shown.
The timing of when the low rate starts and stops hasn't changed i.e. it's still on GMT, which I belive is common for most if not all people (unless thay have a smart meter perhaps - it is suggested that with the introduction of smart meters much more complicated time of use tariffs may be introduced - remember the EDF 20:20 tariff?)

Last edited by Wywth; 25-04-2013 at 2:35 PM.
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# 3
DragonQ
Old 25-04-2013, 1:34 PM
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It's a tricky one. There's probably a lot of people that don't even understand how it works - my friend recently moved into a place with storage heaters and said it wouldn't be too harsh on his electricity bill because electricity is cheaper at night. He was rather shocked when I told him that wasn't the case on normal tariffs.

Storage heaters seem like the only reason to get Economy 7, and are probably the only reason it would ever be cheaper for most people. Of course, if you have Economy 7, this then encourages you to use electricity at night for other things (washing and drying being the obvious ones). However, it's pretty obvious that Economy 7 will work out more expensive in the summer and cheaper in the winter compared to a normal tariff in this situation - whether it'd be cheaper overall depends on a lot of factors.

This thread might be useful to you.
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# 4
Cardew
Old 25-04-2013, 1:44 PM
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The break-even percentage point where E7 is viable varies by company and area; and over the years has also changed.

To further complicate matters the 'premium' for the 17 hours daytime electricity also varies considerably - as does the off- peak cheap rate price.

The 'traditional' break even point was 30% E7 usage. The last time I looked Scottish Power's break even point was 20% and British Gas was 40%.

The only lesson to be learnt is there is no 'one size fits all' solution.

Some companies will allow you to switch from E7 to a normal(24/7) tariff without changing the meter. They simply aggregate both consumption figures and treat as one total. e.g. 3,000kWh on daytime and 1,000kWh on off-peak will be treated as 4,000kWh on the 24/7 tariff.

The mechanical switching clocks can go out of adjustment, and in my experience are never corrected. I should have midnight to 7am in Winter(GMT) and 1am to 8am in Summer(BST) but over the years it has changed so I now get E7 finishing at 8am and 9am repectively. People have reported on MSE far greater errors with their clock.

I believe the more modern meters that are switched remotely are accurate. Smart Metering should solve that issue.

Last edited by Cardew; 25-04-2013 at 1:46 PM.
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# 5
lstar337
Old 25-04-2013, 2:54 PM
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Our usage for March was 22% Peak, 78% Off-Peak.

This resulted in an average unit cost of 9.7p

Flat rate unit cost for us would be 15p

Our usage for April (so far) has been 26% Peak, 74% Off-Peak.

This has resulted in an average unit cost of 10.4p

So you can see how it is already starting to shift as the weather is getting warmer.

I am going to record daily for the whole year (started March 20th), so I will see where the crossover point is.

My assumption for the time being is that it is worthwhile for us because we have storage heaters and E7 water heating.

Here is an image of my April spreadsheet:
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# 6
DragonQ
Old 25-04-2013, 4:43 PM
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So has your heating been on during April? It has been pretty cold this year - this is my gas usage over the last two winters (monthly readings so not accurate to the day) and it's pretty clear that it's been colder for longer this time around:



The red line shows when the number of adults living in my house increased from 2 to 3, which was more significant when it came to electricity usage:



The dips always appear when everyone goes on holiday (we have no standing charge for either electricity or gas).
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# 7
JSR
Old 25-04-2013, 7:00 PM
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My current tariff (Planet Fixed 1 with LOCO2) breaks even at 16%.

My current usage is about 20% at night so currently saving about 50p per month. Paid over the odds on other tariffs but never enough to make it worth the cost of a day off work + the 60 charge to change the meter. E7 meter was here when I moved in.

The clock on my meter is about 2 hours behind real time currently so I get the cheap rate from 2 am to 9 am during BST. I don't do anything to take advantage of this - my heating is gas. Not sure I really could. The only thing I could time shift would be the washing but living alone that is only one load a week so not really going to make that much difference.

Main thing to watch for on E7 tariffs is the standing charge as some charge way more for E7 than the standard rate. No idea why as fixed costs should be the same.

Last edited by JSR; 25-04-2013 at 7:05 PM.
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# 8
Richie-from-the-Boro
Old 25-04-2013, 7:02 PM
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Quote:
it really works out as being cheaper
In most cases with properly used ToS water & space heating - YES

Quote:
electricity usage at night
Break even [ToS by supplier] points :

British Gas 45%
Cooperative Energy - 35%
Ebico - 33%
Ecotricity - 20-35% [depending on the region]
EDF Energy - 20-30% [depending on region and consumption profile]
EON - 34%
First Utility - Don't offer an Economy 7 tariff
Good Energy - 15 to 40% [depending on region and consumption profile]
LoCo2 - 13 to 20%
npower - 35%
OVO - 30%
Scottish Power - 15%
Spark Energy - Don't offer an Economy 7 tariff
SSE - 35%
Utility Warehouse - 40% [35% for low users]

Quote:
accuracy of the clocks used by meters
As you say 'anecdotal' from this site, where you get hard research I've no idea. Much however of that 'anecdotal' comes from 'boots on the ground' meter readers who have no axe to grind and should be qualitatively better than any pre-laundered figured released by industry.

Quote:
make E7 pay
A 2011 ipsosMORi report for consumer focus suggested that around 40% of E7 tariff users have no storage [panel / underfloor etc] facilities, this group certainly should seriously consider switching away from E7 / E10.
Disclaimer : Everything I write on this forum is my opinion. I try to be an even-handed poster and accept that you at times may not agree with these opinions or how I choose to express them, this is not my problem. The Disabled : If years cannot be added to their lives, at least life can be added to their years - Alf Morris - ℜ
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# 9
DragonQ
Old 25-04-2013, 7:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JSR View Post
My current tariff (Planet Fixed 1 with LOCO2) breaks even at 16%.

My current usage is about 20% at night so currently saving about 50p per month. Paid over the odds on other tariffs but never enough to make it worth the cost of a day off work + the 60 charge to change the meter. E7 meter was here when I moved in.

The clock on my meter is about 2 hours behind real time currently so I get the cheap rate from 2 am to 9 am during BST. I don't do anything to take advantage of this - my heating is gas. Not sure I really could. The only thing I could time shift would be the washing but living alone that is only one load a week so not really going to make that much difference.

Main thing to watch for on E7 tariffs is the standing charge as some charge way more for E7 than the standard rate. No idea why as fixed costs should be the same.
So if your heating is gas, how do you use 20% of your electricity between 01:00-08:00 GMT? Do you just use so little that the fridge is a big chunk of total usage?
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# 10
Cardew
Old 25-04-2013, 7:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-from-the-Boro View Post


A 2011 ipsosMORi report for consumer focus suggested that around 40% of E7 tariff users have no storage [panel / underfloor etc] facilities, this group certainly should seriously consider switching away from E7 / E10.
Agree with the thrust of your post, but the situation today(as described above) might not apply tomorrow.

There is also merit in those with older(thus less efficient) oil/LPG boilers to consider switching them off during the summer and heating water by an immersion heater on E7.

Indeed even an old gas boiler with a 'flamethrower' pilot light might find E7 cheaper.
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# 11
Cardew
Old 25-04-2013, 7:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DragonQ View Post
So if your heating is gas, how do you use 20% of your electricity between 01:00-08:00 GMT? Do you just use so little that the fridge is a big chunk of total usage?
1. appliances on a timer in that period.

2. Electric showers before 8am(9am in summer)

3. Breakfast ditto.

I have an E7 meter although most of the time I have not been on an E7 tariff.

My family tend to get up early. One bathroom has an electric shower(we have gas CH) and we can put on dishwasher/dryer/washing machine in the early morning.

Even without trying to maximise off-peak usage we have averaged 22% over the past two years.

With that percentage there isn't much difference either way with many tariffs.
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# 12
JSR
Old 25-04-2013, 7:44 PM
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Originally Posted by DragonQ View Post
So if your heating is gas, how do you use 20% of your electricity between 01:00-08:00 GMT? Do you just use so little that the fridge is a big chunk of total usage?
LOL, could be. I suspect much of the night usage is the Sky box, broadband router and assorted devices under my TV that are never switched off. I'm not really using that much additional electric in prime time anyway. Just the laptop (20 W) and TV (80 W) plus whatever is used for cooking. My exact split over the last 12 months is 2091 kWh day and 511 kWh night.
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# 13
Cardew
Old 25-04-2013, 7:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JSR View Post
My exact split over the last 12 months is 2091 kWh day and 511 kWh night.
So 19.6% on off-peak.
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# 14
DragonQ
Old 25-04-2013, 8:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Cardew View Post
1. appliances on a timer in that period.

2. Electric showers before 8am(9am in summer)

3. Breakfast ditto.

I have an E7 meter although most of the time I have not been on an E7 tariff.

My family tend to get up early. One bathroom has an electric shower(we have gas CH) and we can put on dishwasher/dryer/washing machine in the early morning.

Even without trying to maximise off-peak usage we have averaged 22% over the past two years.

With that percentage there isn't much difference either way with many tariffs.
Ah, the electric shower is probably the biggest thing I'd forgotten about. I've never had one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSR View Post
LOL, could be. I suspect much of the night usage is the Sky box, broadband router and assorted devices under my TV that are never switched off. I'm not really using that much additional electric in prime time anyway. Just the laptop (20 W) and TV (80 W) plus whatever is used for cooking. My exact split over the last 12 months is 2091 kWh day and 511 kWh night.
Heh. My desktop PC uses ~175 W when doing sod all, my plasma TV uses ~150 W, plus ~50 W for my HTPC, ~30 W for my server and ~400 W for my A/V receiver.
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amiehall
Old 25-04-2013, 9:16 PM
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My E7 clock doesn't change with BST but someone helpful has put a sticker on it at some point stating the hours during GMT and BST. My consumption is cheaper on E7 all year round. I have electric water heating and, as a low user, heating my water accounts for at least 50% of my usage in the summer months. Considering that I also use storage heaters in the winter, E7 is a no-brainer.
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# 16
Cardew
Old 25-04-2013, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by amiehall View Post
My E7 clock doesn't change with BST but someone helpful has put a sticker on it at some point stating the hours during GMT and BST.
That is the point being made.

The clocks are not meant to change. So if the hours set for changeover from off-peak to peak consumption are, say, 1am to 8am during the winter(GMT) it becomes 2am to 9am in the summer(BST) i.e. the clock is an hour slow.
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# 17
sacsquacco
Old 25-04-2013, 10:34 PM
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Accuracy of the clocks-digital meters with their own built in clocks.. very good. I see a few which have drifted a little. They stay the same time, that is GMT so they are an hour out now in BST. anologue timer switches... way off mostly, rare to see one anywhere near the same time so the cheap seven hours could be anywhere . I saw one last week where it was on the night rate at 4 pm in the afternoon. The occupier was going to make a claim because he thinks his storage heaters would be on when the day rate was in operation.
Meter reading monkey since 1999
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# 18
Richie-from-the-Boro
Old 25-04-2013, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Cardew View Post
Agree with the thrust of your post, but the situation today(as described above) might not apply tomorrow.

There is also merit in those with older(thus less efficient) oil/LPG boilers to consider switching them off during the summer and heating water by an immersion heater on E7.

Indeed even an old gas boiler with a 'flamethrower' pilot light might find E7 cheaper.
My issue, and I have one, is with that 40% no storage figure. I don't recall till the very recent past any figure even close to 10%. We know, and there are many such proactive posters right here in this group, who make an E7 ToS tariff pay without any stored water or space heat. We also know why and how households end up with an inappropriate ToS service / meter. If however it took 30 years to reach from 0-20%, my question is why has it taken only a couple of years to reach 40% ? The rise of hundreds of web sites proclaiming to sell E7 replacement products that are neither PartL nor E7 would explain this sudden and unexplained phenomena, even with interventions from the ASA enforcing the CAP code this practice persists.

Quote:
Break even point[s] British Gas 45% - Scottish Power - 15%
It always amazes me that BG whose break even tariff split is 30% higher for example than Scottish Power, has any E7 / E10 consumers at all. In the final analysis [smart meters not yet a runner] switching is the key to effective engagement and market market competition, and a common standing charge would be a big single hammer to knock a hole through pricing camouflage and bring a transparency of price tariff comparisons. Either a compulsory fixed national standing charge & unit rates, or a compulsory no-standing charge & unit rates, and a compulsory prohibition on any discounts other than DD / e-Account rules would be a solid starting point for ToS customers.
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# 19
lstar337
Old 26-04-2013, 9:48 AM
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So has your heating been on during April?
Yes. You can see in the graph where it was cold at the start of the month. As the weather has improved, the overnight usage has steadily reduced. We have been gradually reducing the input charge on the heaters during April too. Most of winter they have all been on full input charge, which results in about 50kWh cosumption in the 7 hours (this is how most of March was). Currently they are at about half input charge, and combined with the warmer weather, has resulted in around 25kWh consumption in the 7 hours.

Glad to see I'm not the only person creating spreadsheets/graphs to monitor my usage!
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# 20
DragonQ
Old 26-04-2013, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by lstar337 View Post
Glad to see I'm not the only person creating spreadsheets/graphs to monitor my usage!
I have spreadsheet values with meter readings every month for a few reasons:

- To find out what the monthly and yearly usage is (roughly) to find the cheapest supplier.
- Evidence of usage should suppliers get anything wrong.
- Evidence of usage for housemates.
- To see how much gas usage is heating and how much is not (always easier to reduce bills if you know where the money's going).

Right now my "higher rate" electricity cost easily covers everything we need regardless (oven, kettle, microwave, electric showers, washing machine), so adding anything extra (like my home server which is on all the time) only uses the "lower rate" of 10.1p/kWh (inc VAT), which is cheap these days. I dread the day my fixed tariff ends.

Right now we're using 10 kWh per day on average, so 1.24 per day.

Last edited by DragonQ; 26-04-2013 at 10:33 AM.
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