Sometimes in old films the lights go out and you hear people saying ‘Put another shilling in the meter!’ Well, shillings are now just a memory, and so are those old money-in-the-slot meters.
Nowadays, even ‘traditional’ or ‘standard’ prepaid energy meters (sometimes known as ‘dumb’ meters) are much more sophisticated than they used to be, because you top them up with special keys and cards rather than 10p pieces. And they’re fast being replaced by ‘smart’ meters, which you can top up online and which can ‘talk’ to each other and to your energy supplier.
However, the basic idea is still the same: you put money in the meter and you get energy. If you stop putting in money, the gas or electricity can be disconnected.
Energy customers with a prepayment meter are on a Pay As You Go (PAYG) tariff, where they pay in advance for their energy. At OVO, they can do this in various ways, depending on the plan they’re on, and whether they have a standard or smart meter. Other energy companies will offer different prepayment tariffs and top-up methods, but these are ours:
If you’re an OVO customer and you’re topping up at a PayPoint shop, you can pay in an amount from £5 up to £49, and if you’re topping up through the app, online, by text, by phone or by auto top-up, it’s £5 up to £99.
There are various groups of people who might find it more useful to choose a prepayment plan and meter:
In the old ‘put a shilling in the meter’ days, when the meter ran out of money it would simply cut off the power. If it was the electricity meter, the lights would go out and the TV screen would go blank. If it was the gas meter, the boiler would go out and so would the gas hob.
Life is a bit easier now. To start with, if you’ve got a smart meter it can warn you that you’re running out of credit – with a flashing light or even a text alert. It can also activate your ‘emergency credit’. This is extra cash (usually around £5) which can keep the energy flowing until you’re able to top up – or for 24 hours.
When you next top up, you’ll need to add enough credit to cover what you spent while in emergency credit. If you don’t top up within the 24hr window, or before your emergency credit runs out, your supply may disconnect.
However, if you really do run out of credit, the meter will only shut down your energy at times when it’s safe – i.e. during the hours when you should be able to get to a shop and top up. For example, for our OVO PAYG customers, their meters won’t cut out overnight (between 8pm and 8am, Monday - Friday), at weekends or on bank holidays.
Yes, almost certainly.
Just get in touch with your energy company – or your new provider if you’re switching – and let them know you want a prepaid energy meter. In fact, before you switch, check out all the ‘best buy’ tables and comparison sites to compare prepaid energy prices and make sure you’re going to get the cheapest prepayment electricity and gas.
If you’ve got a smart meter, it may simply be a case of switching it from monthly payment mode to PAYG mode.
If you have a standard meter, your existing or new supplier may have to take it out and replace it with a new prepayment model. This could be another standard meter, or they might decide to take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade you to a smart meter. Either way, keep a check on what they’re intending to charge you, to make sure you get the best prepayment meter rates.
If you’ve moved into a new home and inherited the previous owner’s prepayment meter, but you’d rather pay by monthly direct debit and not worry about topping up, you should contact your energy supplier. In fact, if you’ve just moved in, you may not be happy with the energy supplier you’ve inherited either. If so, it’s best to speak to your preferred new supplier to make sure they can provide a new meter, and whether they’ll make any charges for this service.
If it’s a smart meter, your supplier may be able to switch the mode, but if it’s a standard meter it will probably need to be exchanged, and they may have to charge you a fee to cover the engineer’s work.
External sources: https://www.ukpower.co.uk/home_energy/prepayment-meters
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OVO Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879
Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.
1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Based on all new customer signups between 01/02/2016 and 31/07/2016
94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.