Economy 7

Economy 7 is the name of a differential tariff provided by United Kingdom electricity suppliers that uses base load generation to provide cheap off-peak electricity during the night.

Houses using the Economy 7 tariff require a special electricity meter which provides two different readings - one for electricity used during the day, priced higher, and the other for the night, priced lower. The night (off-peak) period lasts for a total of seven hours, hence the name; however it may not be a continuous period, as it may alternate between the two prices during the night.

The first mention of Economy 7 is in 1978:[1]

A new off-peak tariff known as the 'Economy 7' tariff was introduced in October [1978]. It featured a seven-hour night rate some 20 per cent cheaper than most night-time tariffs, made possible by economies in the night-time operation of the system.

In more recent years the difference between day and night rates has become much larger, with typically over 50% reduction[2] (though dependent on the supplier). The Economy 7 tariff results in either or both of an increased standing (fixed) charge or increased daytime rate.

Timing and switchover

Economy 7 Meter and Teleswitcher
Economy 7 Meter and Teleswitcher

The night storage heaters and hot water boilers are generally on a separate circuit which is only switched on when the night rate is activated, although any electrical appliance on an ordinary circuit during this period also runs at the lower rate of billing, such as a dishwasher or washing machine set to start using a timing device. Some such machines have timers built-in partly for this purpose. In newer houses, a digital meter automatically switches to record both ranges. The wiring in the house is rarely different for Economy 7. Many consumers will however choose to set devices such as storage heaters and water heaters to turn on during the hours of Economy 7 to save money. Few houses now have devices controlled solely by the timer on the electricity meter itself.

The specific times when Economy 7 applies vary between different regions, seasons, and sometimes individual meters.[3][4][5][6][7][8] For example, the seven-hour period might start at 1.30am during British Summer Time and 12:30am during Greenwich Mean Time (winter).[9] Some regions use radio teleswitching to control consumers' systems and vary the timing. This uses data superimposed on the 198 kHz BBC Radio 4 long-wave signal.[10]


Electricity supply in the United Kingdom is deregulated and the several providers offer different tariffs, much as telephone or internet service providers do. Economy 7 can offer some consumers savings, but a careful analysis should be done. For example, if the price is double the normal tariff during the 'day' period, and half the normal during the 'night' period, then to break even the consumer would need to use over two-thirds of their energy during the 'night' period. Typically this holds true when heating/water is electric rather than gas, or if the supply is used to charge an electric vehicle overnight. An Economy 7 tariff can end up costing significantly more than a standard tariff without restructuring current energy usage.[11]

Similar tariffs

  • White Meter is a very similar product used mainly in Scotland. The traditional setup offers up to eight and half hours of off-peak electricity overnight. Newer variants are also available which offer an overnight charging period for storage heating that is automatically varied to take account of forecast temperatures for the following day.[12]
  • Economy 10 offers ten hours of off-peak electricity spread over a 24 hour period.
  • TwinHeat is a product offered by Scottish Power in North Wales and Merseyside which offers four hours of off-peak electricity overnight and three during the afternoon.[13] Originally introduced as 'Menter' in the early 1990s, the product was designed to avoid the need for expensive supply network upgrades in rural Mid Wales by spreading high local demand for electric heating across multiple off-peak periods.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Electricity Supply in the UK: A chronology, Electricity Council, UK, 1987
  2. ^ Economy 7 energy tariffs, archived from the original on 25 January 2010
  3. ^ MoneySavingExpert: Is Economy 7 right for you? "The cheaper, off-peak rate runs from midnight to 7am... although precise times can vary by supplier" [but see next source]
  4. ^ site is on Wikipedia blacklist (incorrectly?): Business Juice: Economy 7 Off-Peak Hours. "Contrary to some belief, Economy 7 Off-Peak Hours are defined by region and meter not by Supplier. Some regions are explicit about the Economy 7 times ... other regions make it less easy"
  5. ^ NPower Frequently Asked Questions "The Economy 7 cheaper rate period typically falls 7 hours between 10pm and 8.30am, but that period can vary across the country."
  6. ^ Ovo Energy: Economy 7 "Economy 7 times differ depending on where you live and which energy supplier you’re with. For example, the seven off-peak hours might be 11pm to 6am, 12 midnight to 7am, 1am to 8am or even 1.30am until 8.30am. You would need to check with your supplier. The hours usually change when the clocks go back or forward – so your Economy 7 times could be 1.30am to 8.30am during British Summer Time and 12.30am to 7.30am in the winter during Greenwich Mean Time." [but see source above re "by supplier" being a possible misconception]
  7. ^ British Gas: What is Economy 7? "Check the Economy 7 times for your region using this table below" [many give two or more sets of times, and some rows say "Differs from property to property"]
  8. ^ This Is Money: Buying your energy at night to save on bills? Could Economy 7 tariffs make a comeback as electricity costs rise? "Many families on Economy 7 meters will be unaware of what the actual cheap energy hour[s] are"
  9. ^
  10. ^ "35 million people didn't notice a thing… - BBC R&D". Retrieved 2016-01-26. the signalling information for switching Economy 7 electricity meters is carried on Radio 4 LW
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links

British Energy Efficiency Federation

The British Energy Efficiency Federation (or BEEF) was founded in 1996 by the United Kingdom Government to provide a forum for consultation between existing industry associations in the energy sector.

Complementary currency

A complementary currency is a currency or medium of exchange that is not a national currency, but that is thought of as supplementing or complementing national currencies.:3:2 Complementary currencies are usually not legal tender and their use is based on agreement between the parties exchanging the currency. According to Jérôme Blanc of Laboratoire d'Économie de la Firme et des Institutions, complementary currencies aim to protect, stimulate or orientate the economy.:7 They may also be used to advance particular social, environmental, or political goals.:4When speaking about complementary currencies, a number of overlapping and often interchangeable terms are in use: local or community currencies are complementary currencies used within a locality or other form of community (such as business-based or online communities); regional currencies are similar to local currencies, but are used within a larger geographical region; and sectoral currencies are complementary currencies used within a single economic sector, such as education or health care. Many private currencies are complementary currencies issued by private businesses or organizations. Other terms include alternative currency, auxiliary currency, and microcurrency. Mutual credit is a form of alternative currency, and thus any form of lending that does not go through the banking system can be considered a form of alternative currency. Barters are another type of alternative currency. These are actually exchange systems, which trade only items, without the use of any currency whatsoever. Finally, LETS is a special form of barter that trades points for items. One point stands for one worker-hour of work, and is thus a Time-based currency.

Economy 10

Economy 10 is the name of a tariff provided by United Kingdom electricity suppliers created in 2004. Similar to the Economy 7 this is designed to be used with high thermal mass heating such as storage heaters, underfloor heating, and is also used with electrical boilers driving radiators or water-based heat stores.

In contrast to Economy 7, which only provides off-peak electricity during nighttime hours, Economy 10 tariffs provide ten hours of off-peak heating split between night, afternoon and evening. The advantage of this scheme is that by matching the storage periods better to the times when heat is required, less heat needs to be stored during the day, when there may be no demand for heating. The afternoon and evening periods also provide a top-up to heating systems at off-peak prices.

Off-peak electricity costs can be half of the peak prices, but many Economy 10 tariffs levy an increased standing daily charge.

The structure of the ten off-peak hours is determined by the local distribution network operator rather than the electricity supply company and they vary across the fourteen regions in the UK. Times are switched automatically, and it is common for the switching times to be locked to either GMT or BST when the meter is installed. Some metering systems use a radio teleswitch controlled by the supplier to vary switching times, and effect the daylight saving time switchover twice a year. Economy 10 thus requires a special multi-tariff meter, different from an Economy 7 meter.

For example, customers in central Scotland (within the Scottish Power Energy Networks DNO area) are on the following times:

3 hours in the afternoon (1.30pm - 4.30pm)

4 hours in the evening (8.30pm - 12.30am)

3 hours in early morning (4.30am - 7.30am)Another set of times (West Midlands) are:

3 hours in the afternoon (1pm - 4pm)

2 hours in the evening (8pm - 10pm)

5 hours overnight (Midnight - 5am)

Electricity meter

An electricity meter, electric meter, electrical meter, or energy meter is a device that measures the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence, a business, or an electrically powered device.

Electric utilities use electric meters installed at customers' premises for billing purposes. They are typically calibrated in billing units, the most common one being the kilowatt hour (kWh). They are usually read once each billing period.

When energy savings during certain periods are desired, some meters may measure demand, the maximum use of power in some interval. "Time of day" metering allows electric rates to be changed during a day, to record usage during peak high-cost periods and off-peak, lower-cost, periods. Also, in some areas meters have relays for demand response load shedding during peak load periods.

Energy Retail Association

The Energy Retail Association (ERA) was a trade association which promoted the interests of electricity and gas retailers in the domestic market in Great Britain, formed in 2003. In April 2012 it merged with the Association of Electricity Producers and the UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy to become Energy UK.

Franco-British Nuclear Forum

The first meeting of the Franco–British Nuclear Forum was held in Paris in November 2007, chaired by the Minister for Energy and the French Industry Minister. The working groups are focusing on specific areas for collaboration. A follow-up meeting on the issue in London was planned for March 2008,[1] but did not take place.[2]

John Wood Group

John Wood Group PLC is a multinational energy services company with headquarters in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

Load balancing (electrical power)

Load balancing, load matching, or daily peak demand reserve refers to the use of various techniques by electrical power stations to store excess electrical power during low demand periods for release as demand rises. The goal would be for the power supply system to see a load factor of 1.

Grid energy storage stores electricity within the transmission grid beyond the customer. Alternatively, the storage can be distributed and involve the customer, for example in storage heaters running demand-response tariffs such as the United Kingdom's Economy 7, or in a vehicle-to-grid system to use storage from electric vehicles during peak times and then replenish it during off peak times. These require incentives for consumers to participate, usually by offering cheaper rates for off peak electricity.

New Electricity Trading Arrangements

New Electricity Trading Arrangements (NETA) is the system of market trading arrangements under which electricity is traded in the United Kingdom's wholesale electricity market as of 27 March 2001. The arrangements provided that parties could trade off their imbalances close to real time.

Opus Energy

Opus Energy Limited supplies gas and electricity to businesses across the United Kingdom. It purchases electricity from wind, solar, hydro, and anaerobic digestion generators, and provides support to develop energy-generating sites. It is headquartered in Northampton, United Kingdom with an additional office in Oxford.


Petrofac Limited is a provider of oilfield services to the international oil and gas industry. It is registered in Jersey (number 81792), with its main corporate office on Jermyn Street, London. It has operational centres in Aberdeen, Sharjah, Woking, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Kuala Lumpur. There are another 24 offices in various countries. The company is quoted on the London Stock Exchange, and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

Radio teleswitch

A radio teleswitch is a device used in the United Kingdom to allow electricity suppliers to switch large numbers of electricity meters between different tariff rates, by broadcasting an embedded signal in broadcast radio signals. Radio teleswitches are also used to switch on/off consumer appliances to make use of cheaper differential tariffs such as Economy 7.

Regal Petroleum

Regal Petroleum plc is a petroleum company based in London with assets in Romania, Ukraine, Greece, and Egypt. It was founded by Frank Timiş in November 1996, and is listed on the London Alternative Investment Market.

Score Group plc

Score Group plc is an international engineering business based in Peterhead, Scotland.

Sunbury Research Centre

The Sunbury Research Centre -- also known as ICBT Sunbury -- is a main research institute of BP in north-east Surrey.

Telecom Plus

Telecom Plus PLC is a multi-utility supplier based in the United Kingdom. It supplies gas, electricity, landline, broadband and mobile services to residences and businesses. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

Timeline of the UK electricity supply industry

The following is a list of major events in the history of the electricity sector in the United Kingdom.

UK Power Networks

UK Power Networks is a distribution network operator for electricity covering South East England, the East of England and London. It manages three licensed distribution networks (Eastern Power Networks PLC, South Eastern Power Networks PLC and London Power Networks PLC) which together cover an area of 30000 square kilometres and approximately eight million customers.

In 2014 UK Power Networks was awarded £25 million from the electricity regulator Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund for the Low Carbon London project. In 2011 it was awarded £6.7 million by Ofgem for another project, Flexible Plug and Play, which is researching new ways, technical and commercial, to connect renewable energy to the distribution network in Cambridgeshire.

As well as the three distribution arms UK Power Networks also operates UK Power Networks Services Holdings Limited, which develops and maintains electrical networks for clients including London Underground, Heathrow and Stansted airports, Docklands Light Railway and Canary Wharf.

Western Power Distribution

Western Power Distribution is the trading identity of four electricity distribution companies - WPD South West (operating in South West England), WPD South Wales (operating in South Wales) and WPD Midlands (operating in East Midlands and West Midlands). All of the companies act as the distribution network operator for their respective regions, and are registered in Bristol, England. Western Power Distribution serves approximately 7.7 million customers over its combined distribution areas.

Western Power Distribution is a subsidiary of the American utility corporation PPL.

It should not be confused with WPD, a wind farm company in north-western Europe, or Western Power Corporation, an electricity distributor in Australia.

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