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I believe my current electricity meter is faulty, and have scheduled an appointment with the Power company to come and inspect it.

They've asked whether I want the replacement (if needed) to be Single Rate or Economy7 meter (not tariff). When asking that question they said:

It is advisable to have a single rate meter if you have a single rate tariff however if you plan to switch to a dual rate tariff then economy7 meter are better, the choice is yours.

To me it seems a no-brainer to get an Economy7 meter?

  • If I have a SingleRate meter, then I have to have a Single Rate tariff .
  • Whereas, if I have an Economy7 meter, then I can choose to have an Economy7 tariff or to stick with a Single Rate tariff , in which case I just have to add up 2 numbers each time (or possibly the Power company's website/DB will add them up for me :D )

I can't see any reason to get a Single Rate meter, nor any reason that it would be 'advisable' if I were on a Single Rate tariff.

I asked the rep why he'd said that and he never replied. His English was poor, and I suspect he was working in a very generic overseas support office, so I'm not particularly inclined to trust him over common sense.

Is there anything I'm missing?

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  • PS. If you genuinely think that I should remove those bits, and that there's no chance that I'm going to get answers from people who haven't read the question, explaining that Economy7 tarrifs can be more expensive depending on your usage profile ... then I'm happy to remove them :)
    – Brondahl
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 14:05
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    Economy 7 can be cheaper than a single tariff and, based on experience, it is cheaper. But you have to know and understand your usage patterns. A washing machine that has a delay timer is a plus, as ling as you don’t have neighbours that can be disturbed...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 14:20
  • I agree with solar Mike it all depends on your utility and your usage patterns I have seen customers bills increase with smart meters because of when they used there power just be aware what there rate schedule is and adjust your usage times then you can save in many cases but I know quite a few folks that have been upset when there bill increased with the new meters.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 14:33

2 Answers 2

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In the process of comparing utility companies, I've stumbled across evidence that:

A) there's a national database of "what kind of meter is installed at each address". B) Some Utility companies will only offer you a matching rate (Bulb, by default won't match you up with the wrong rate)

I'll be contact Bulb support to see whether that's something they can override in their backend.

But it's certainly possible that having an Eco7 meter will not always be compatible with having a Standard rate tariff, dependant on Utility company.

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  • Equally, other providers explicitly state they're fine with it: eonenergy.com/help/metering/…. So it's definitely supplier dependent.
    – Brondahl
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 7:14
  • (FWIW Bulb couldn't override it and I was billed at Dual rate for >10 months before I finally got them to come and replace the meter with a Single Rate meter)
    – Brondahl
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 16:49
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This is a rather unusual question, so I wonder who your utility is. Different types of meters and different types of billing are quite common. Letting the customer choose which type of meter is, to me, a little unusual. In most places I know of (US), the utility decides what meter to use. In fact, many electric utilities over the last 20 years have been gradually replacing meters with smart meters at no cost to the homeowner, but also with no choice by the homeowner. These smart meters provide many capabilities, including:

  • Remote Shutoff - I haven't seen that myself, but others have reported on that in DIY SE. It makes a lot of sense from a safety perspective but also lets the utility shut you off remotely for non-payment.
  • Remote Meter Reading - For a one-time cost to replace the meters, they save sending out meter readers every month. Eventually, that alone can pay for the meters.
  • Detailed Usage Reading - A smart meter can report back every 15 minutes, or report once a day with 15-minute data for the entire day. Which, if done frequently enough, can lead to....
  • Automatic Sensing of Power Outages - If the meters in a neighborhood stop reporting, the power is out. Send a truck. No need to wait for customer reports.
  • Demand and/or Time-of-day Billing - This is your specific question, so more details below.

Historically, most electric utilities billed based on simple usage. Read the meter once a month. Subtract last month's reading from this month's reading. Multiply by the current price per kWh. Send a bill.

However, simple usage doesn't tell the whole story. It hides the true costs of generating power (peak plants cost more) and distribution (everything has to be sized for peak demand). There are two general solutions:

  • Peak Demand Pricing - Figure out the peak demand (typically the top 30 minutes) for the month in kW. Multiple that by some $ amount. Send bill. This (a) compensates the utility for the hottest (or sometimes coldest) times when the overall system-wide demand is highest, resulting in the biggest peak plants are turned on and/or most expensive power is purchased from other utilities, and (b) encourages customers to lower their peak demand - e.g., by installing systems that can store power for use during peak times in various ways.
  • Time of Day Pricing - This is similar to Peak Demand pricing, though a little simpler in some ways. Instead of a single peak for the month, the meter calculates total usage within a few (typically 3, but could be 2 or 4) different time ranges of each day or week. The highest rate is applied to weekday daytime (when businesses are open, air conditioners are running the most (in the summer), etc.) and lower rates to nights & weekends. This can have a larger effect, particularly on residential users (as opposed to commercial or industrial) who can't easily alter their peak demand but who can get in the habit of "do laundry at night", "run the dishwasher at night", "set back the thermostat during the day if nobody is home", etc.

Many utilities put in meters with these capabilities but don't actually charge accordingly, depending on local tariffs & regulations. But they generally have the capability with newer meters to do so. When they do start charging for peak demand or time-of-day usage, they don't necessarily give the customers any control over the billing method. So your situation of being able to choose the meter type seems odd. Hard to actually say, without a lot more detail about your utility and your usage patterns, whether a simple meter or a smart meter would be best for you.

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  • Well, not an unusual question - some countries offer the choice of single or three phase connections and, as the OP made clear, and Economy 7 which is "usually" a single phase connection. Then pricing can be so much more complicated with many different rates and discounts for users above certain limits as well as very expensive times of day to persuade users to avoid times of high load. Some customers will get discounts if they will move large demands to certain times of the day. Also, meters can be ordered which will cope with demand and generation as well as reactive power.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 15:38
  • The unusual part is that the utility is giving the customer a choice of meter type Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 15:55
  • Not unusual - an obvious option in the UK, and done it for my private house and also been involved in the metering for wind turbines and solar panels.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 15:56
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    Unless you're saying that by installing an Eco7 meter now I may get forced to use an Eco7 tarrif in the future?
    – Brondahl
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 16:32
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    I can't say for sure - each utility is different. I suppose in the end it comes down to whether the Eco7 tariff would be forced on you once you pick that meter. Here (US), most utilities I know of have smart meters but don't actually charge peak demand (except for large commercial users) or time-of-day pricing (though they have talked about that for many, many years, long before the really smart meters). It is likely but I don't know for sure that Eco7 tariff is designed to end up with pricing very close to straight/simple pricing but with enough difference to "encourage" off-peak usage. Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 17:17

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