What is Economy 10 ?
- Economy 10 (E10 for short) is a type of electricity meter. It gives you 10 hours of cheap off-peak electricity per day.
- Economy 10 is also the ‘tariff’ you need from your electricity company if you have an E10 meter.
Economy 10 refers to the meter and electricity tariff. It doesn’t describe any of the wiring or heating systems in your home.
Economy 10 vs Economy 7 (off-peak times)
Both E10 and E7 are two-rate meters, with peak and off-peak readings. However the off-peak times are quite different:
- Economy 7 gives you 7 hours off-peak electricity in a single block overnight.
- Economy 10 gives you 10 hours off-peak electricity in three blocks throughout the day and night. This is useful if you want a boost in the afternoon or evening.
There is an internal time-clock which switches between peak and off-peak rates at certain times. Any electricity is recorded against the time periods, and billed accordingly.
The off-peak times are manually programmed into your meter by a technician and are generally based on where you are in the UK. The typical times for Economy 10 are:
04:30 – 07:30 (3hrs)
13:30 – 16:30 (3hrs)
20:30 – 00:30 (4hrs)
England & Wales:
00:00 – 05:00 (5hrs)
13:00 – 16:00 (3hrs)
20:00 – 22:00 (2hrs)
In practice the off-peak times can be a few minute earlier or later, but still provide 10 hours of off-peak electricity in total. This is to avoid all electrical loads coming on at exactly the same time and potentially overloading the grid.
However it seems that some people might be on significantly different times from these – either the time timeclock is wrong, or it doesn’t switch to British Summer Time. If you’re one of these people, then let us know what your electricity supplier is saying about it!
Should I get an Economy 10 meter?
E10 might work out cheaper than a Standard or E7 meter, but only if you can shift your electricity usage into the off-peak times. It depends on the type of heating you have – have a look at the Heating Systems below.
Types of heating system
Most of the energy used in a house is for heating (and hot water). If you use electricity for this, you could take advantage of the cheap off-peak times to run your heating. However this does mean you need to set up your heating system to match the off-peak times, and avoid using the more expensive peak times.
Panel Radiators / Wet Electric: ~ MAYBE
- If your house is well insulated then Economy 10 is ideal. You would time the heating to come on during the off-peak periods, heating your home 3x times per day. Having a room thermostat fitted can help make this easy and automated.
- However if your home is poorly insulated then it can cool down substantially in-between the off-peak periods (when the heating is off), in which case it may not be effective. Adding heat storage could help smooth the heating whilst still taking advantage of the cheap off-peak times – check out the Sunamp case study.
Storage Heaters: ~ MAYBE Most storage heaters are on E7 – they charge overnight but leave the house cold by the evening. Converting them to E10 would give a boost in the afternoon and evening. However the wiring can be confusing, and an electrician would definitely need to have a look at each setup individually.
Gas central heating: UNLIKELY Economy 10 is unlikely to be of benefit if you have gas heating. This is because most of your energy (heating & hot water) is already supplied by cheap gas. Your electricity use will only be for lighting and appliances, so it’s going to be relatively low. If you’ve got a gas boiler you’re probably best choosing a standard electricity tariff and shopping around using a price comparison website.
Heat pumps: √ IDEAL Economy 10 is ideal when combined with an air-source (ASHP) or ground-source heat pump (GSHP). Running the heat pump in the off-peak period means the cost of heating could end up cheaper than gas. If your home is poorly insulated you might want to consider adding a heat battery.
2-rate vs 3-rate?
Most ‘typical’ Economy 10 meters have two rates – Peak and Offpeak. The whole house is supplied from this meter, and any electricity used is recorded against the appropriate rate depending on the time of day.
However occasionally a meter has a third rate called a ‘heat’ rate. These are technically not Economy 10 meters, and may be called something like HeatWise (if you’re in the East Midlands). They usually charge storage heaters on the third rate, as well as providing peak and off-peak electricity to the house. Unfortunately these can be harder to switch to another supplier, but it’s still possible if you speak to suppliers ‘complex metering’ teams.
An MPAN is a Meter Point Administration Number, and it is a unique reference for your meter. It’s used by energy suppliers to identify your supply. Usually a meter has just one MPAN (with two rates), but occasionally there are two MPANS (if you have three rates) – confusing, I know!
If you have one MPAN it’s generally easy to switch supplier. If you have two MPANS it can be trickier but worth phoning the supplier to discuss your options.
It might also be worth having an electrician check the wiring in your house to see if it’s configured in the most efficient way.
The UK’s electricity grid is currently under strain; a recent government report suggests that for winter 2015/16 there would only be 4% spare capacity in our electricity supply, the lowest in years. However this issue is because of peak electricity use, not average use. If we can shift our usage away from peak to off-peak periods, we will be doing the electrical grid a favour (as well as our pockets, and the environment).
Economy 10 meters encourage us to shift our usage into off-peak periods by charging us substantially less during those times.