The ultimate guide to Economy 10 tariffs and meters

13 December 2021 | Matt Mostyn

Some energy plans give you a cheaper electricity rate at certain times, and a more expensive one at others. Economy 10 is one example – and if you’re a night owl, or use more electricity overnight, it could be the ideal plan to help you save money on your bills, and cut your carbon emissions.

Here’s our guide to the ins and outs of Economy 10, so you can decide whether it’s right for you. You’ll find answers to the following questions:

  • What is the Economy 10 tariff?
  • What are the Economy 10 times?
  • How is Economy 10 different from Economy 7?
  • Can I get an Economy 10 smart meter?
  • Is Economy 10 the right tariff for me?

What is an Economy 10 tariff?

Economy 10 is a UK electricity plan that can help you pay less for your electricity. Basically, you pay normal prices most of the time, but cheaper rates during other “off-peak” times. These off-peak times are set by the energy supplier, and spread across the day and night. 

By the way, in Scotland, energy companies give people something called white meters for off-peak rates, so the plan is known as “White meters” rather than Economy 10. 

Want to see how using energy at different times could also help you go more green? Check out our guide to grid efficiency and how it could help you cut your carbon.

Why’s it called Economy 10?

Altogether, the off-peak hours offered with an Economy 10 plan add up to 10 hours during each 24-hour period – which is why this plan is known as Economy 10.

How Economy 10 works

The off-peak unit prices available with an Economy 10 plan can be up to half the peak rate. So if you use appliances like dishwashers, slow cookers or washing machines during these off-peak times, it could help you cut your energy bills.

But you’ll need to be careful and disciplined about your energy use, because unit rates for energy you use outside the 10 off-peak hours can be higher than usual.

Read more about the average gas and electricity bill and energy consumption in the UK

What are the Economy 10 times? Peak v off-peak hours

Economy 10 times vary with different suppliers – so it’s best to check the specifics with yours. But usually, Economy 10 discounted rates are broken down into 7 hours at night, and 3 hours during the day.

How much are the off-peak Economy 10 tariff rates?

Economy 10 times differ, depending on where you live and which energy supplier you’re with.

For example, there could be:

  • 3 off-peak hours in the afternoon (e.g. 1pm – 4pm)
  • 2 in the evening (e.g. 8pm – 10pm)
  • 5 overnight (e.g. midnight – 5am)

Scottish customers are more likely to get:

  • 3 hours in the afternoon (e.g. 1pm – 4pm)
  • 4 in the evening (e.g. 8pm – midnight)
  • 3 in the early morning (e.g. 4am – 7am)

Some areas and Economy 10 electricity suppliers change these times when the clocks go back or forward – so your afternoon hours could be 2pm to 5pm during British Summer Time, and 1pm to 4pm in the winter, during Greenwich Mean Time.

Other suppliers may not change the hours. Either way it could mean that for 6 months of the year, the off-peak hours are less suitable for you.

It’s worth noting that while Economy 10 offers unit rates lower than peak rates, the normal daytime rate is often higher than many standard energy plans. Check with individual suppliers to find out what you’d pay off-peak and during daytime hours.

What’s the difference between Economy 10 and other tariffs?

Economy 10 tariffs offer cheaper off-peak hours, compared to a standard tariff, where the rate is the same day and night. 

Read more about the types of energy tariffs available, and find out which one could be the right for you.

How is Economy 10 different from Economy 7? 

Economy 10 is different to an Economy 7 tariff – which, as the name suggests, generally allows you to have 7 hours of cheaper energy at night.

If you are interested in finding out more information about Economy 7 tariffs and meters read our easy and practical guide on Economy 7.

How do I know if I’m on an Economy 10 tariff?

If you don’t already know, there are 3 ways to find out:

  1. Check your electricity bill

If your electricity is charged at 2 separate rates, then you may be on an Economy 10 tariff – although there’s also a chance that you’re on an Economy 7 tariff (which offers 7, rather than 10 hours of off-peak rates).  If your electricity seems to be charged at 2 different rates, you could indeed be on a split-rate plan like Economy 10, or Economy 7.

Handy hint: you may also find the name of your tariff on your bill.

  1. Check your electricity meter

An Economy 10 meter could have 2 sets of numbers – one labelled “low” and one labelled “normal”. If you see these sets of numbers on your meter, you have a multi-rate meter, which indicates either Economy 10 or Economy 7.

Your meter could also display a ‘night’ rate and a ‘day’ rate. However it’s marked, it should be clear to see from your meter if you’re being charged 2 separate rates.

The only exception to this is if you have a smart meter – in which case you’ll need to cycle through the on-screen options to see if there are 2 registers (R1 and R2), and whether they’re recording consumption.

  1. Contact your energy supplier

If you still aren’t sure, simply get in touch with your energy supplier and ask them what type of energy plan you’re on.

Economy 10 suppliers 

Economy 10 suppliers

Right now, one of Economy 10’s major downfalls is that not enough suppliers can offer it – and the number that do looks set to decrease even further. 

One reason for this is that unless you already have an E10 meter, you're unlikely to find a supplier offering them. 

Also, most price comparison sites don't include E10 options – which makes it difficult to see whether Economy 10 is cheaper than your current plan.

And finally, as the UK makes the switch over to smart meters, fewer and fewer customers are being offered Economy 10 plans. 

How to switch to Economy 10 

Switching to an Economy 10 tariff is slightly more complicated than other types of energy plan switches, because you’ll need to have an Economy 10 meter installed. 

If you have one, contact your supplier, and ask them what you need to do to make the switch. You might need to pay an installation fee for your new Economy 10 meter, so factor this cost into your decision to switch.

Paying too much for your energy? Compare our green energy plans. Save money and the planet with OVO, and switch now. 

What is an Economy 10 meter?

Economy 10 plans use special Economy 10 meters. They display 2 different meter readings, reflecting the different rates you’ll be paying.

If you’re switching to an Economy 10 tariff from a standard plan, you’ll usually need to have a special Economy 10 meter installed (which your supplier will likely charge you for, if they’re able to install one).

Remember that if you do switch to an Economy 10 tariff, and then decide to go back to a standard plan, you may have to pay again to have a standard meter installed.

How to read an Economy 10 meter

Economy 10 meters are a little more tricky to read than standard meters, as there’s more than one reading. Depending on your supplier, your meter will display either 2 or 3 readings, covering day/normal usage, night/low use and day/off peak use.

Your Economy 10 meter should either have a button for scrolling through the various readings, or it’ll automatically cycle through them for you. You’ll need to give all 2/3 readings to your electricity or gas supplier.

Can I get an Economy 10 smart meter?

Unfortunately not. There’s no such thing as an Economy 10 smart meter – which means that Economy 10 tariffs don’t work with existing smart meters. If you already have a smart meter, you’ll need to replace it with an Economy 10 meter if you decide to switch. 

Read more about the benefits of smart meters and how they work

How can you take advantage of an Economy 10 tariff?

how to improve your home efficiency

To make the most of Economy 10 tariffs, it’s a good idea to consider the following:

  • Does your lifestyle mean you’re able to use the majority of your energy during the off-peak hours? As Economy 10 usually works best when you run your heating and appliances during the late evening and overnight.
  • Economy 10 is also best for electric, rather than gas heating systems.
  • Ideally, your heating system should be based on storage heaters and hot water tanks with an immersion heater – as this allows you to use heating during the day after they’ve charged up during off-peak hours. 
  • Newer storage heaters are best – as older versions typically need 7 hours of continuous heating to store enough heat. Whereas Economy 10 tariffs typically only offer 5 hours of heat at night.
  • It’s helpful to have timer settings on your major appliances (such as your washing machine, dishwasher, and tumble dryer) so they can be used at night.
  • It’s also a good idea to consider where your appliances are located. Obviously, it’s not ideal if you have a washing machine near your bedroom, as running it at night could disturb your sleep.
  • Solar panels can be a good pairing with an Economy 10 tariff. In the winter months, you’ll be able to make use of your own solar-generated electricity during part of the afternoon, plus the extra discounted hours during the evening and overnight.

What are the disadvantages of Economy 10? 

As we’ve said, not all energy suppliers offer Economy 10 tariffs – which limits your choices when you’re comparing energy prices. But there are a few other potential drawbacks to consider:

  • If your home’s heated by gas or another energy source, the savings you’ll be able to make with Economy 10 will be substantially less.
  • Cost of switching is another issue. You’ll need to pay to install a new Economy 10 meter, which can be expensive. And you’ll also need to make sure that you use most of your energy at certain times of the day. If you don’t, you could end up paying expensive peak-rates, which could cost more than you’d pay on a standard tariff.
  • Remember that off-peak times vary from one Economy 10 plan to another. So if you switch suppliers, your Economy 10 meter will need to be reprogrammed – which could cost you money. 

Is Economy 10 the right energy tariff for me?

If you’re still not quite sure whether an Economy 10 tariff is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you use natural gas for your heating or hot water?

If you have a gas boiler or central heating system, you’re unlikely to benefit from Economy 10 – as it’s better suited for homes with electric-powered storage heaters.

How much electricity do you use?

If you use quite a bit of electricity via electric-powered storage heaters, Economy 10 could work well. That’s because these heaters can be charged during off-peak hours at the lower rate, and then release that low-cost energy during the following day.

When do you use that electricity?

If you’re out most of the day, but spend much of your time at home in the evening and at night, then Economy 10 could be a good choice – because you’ll be using more energy during off-peak hours.

Does OVO offer an Economy 10 tariff?

The short answer is “no, not at the moment”. This info exists here purely because we want our members to feel informed about different energy options.

Other frequently asked questions

Is there a similar Economy 10 rate for gas?

Unfortunately not. That’s because gas is mostly used for cooking, heating and hot water – not for appliances like dishwashers or washing machines, which you can choose to use mainly at night.

Is it easy to switch?

It’s not completely straightforward, because you’ll need to have a new meter installed, and you may have to pay for this service. Get in touch with your energy supplier, and ask them how long it would take, and what you’d have to pay.

I’ve already got Economy 10 but I’d like to switch back to a normal rate – what should I do?

Get in touch with your Economy 10 electricity suppliers. You’ll probably need to have a new meter installed, and there may be a charge for this. They’ll also ask you some questions about your circumstances and energy use, to make sure you meet their criteria for switching to a normal plan.

Other ways to lower your energy bills 

You don’t just have to rely on energy plans like Economy 10 to help reduce your bills. Here are a few other bright ideas you could try to help keep your costs down:

1. Use less energy

It may sound obvious – but the simplest way to reduce your bills is to reduce energy waste. That means taking steps like insulating your roof and your solid or cavity walls, as well as draught-proofing your windows and doors. 

We’ve a few more detailed tips to help you become even more energy-efficient. And for even more inspiration, check out 120 ways to save energy at home – which covers some of the following, and more:

  • When you boil a kettle, only use as much water as you need
  • Turn appliances off at the wall – don’t leave them on standby
  • Use energy-saving light bulbs
  • Defrost your freezer regularly
  • If your boiler’s more than 15 years old, look into replacing it with a new A-rated condensing boiler
  • Slip an insulating jacket on your hot water tank and you could save around £35 a year
  • When using your washing machine, never set it higher than 30˚
  • Consider making some low-carbon heating improvements to make the most of recent advances in technology 

If you’re living on a low income or pension over the winter months, there’s help at hand. The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a one-off payment that takes £140 (including VAT) off your electricity bills.

Read our Warm Home Discount explainer for more info

2. Switch suppliers

It’s always worth checking your energy supplier’s competitors from time to time, to see if you could save money by switching.

If you’re not yet with OVO,  check out how your current deal compares to our energy plans

Are you paying too much for your energy? Compare our green energy plans and switch to OVO today.