[UPDATE: Smart meters are now set to become the norm in UK households. You can read more about them here.]
Why might you need to change your meters?
There are lots of situations where you might need to switch meters including: when you have had storage heaters replaced with another form of heating, when you have switched to storage heaters from other electric heating, when you have drastically changed the way you use your energy or where you have a historic system (just moved in to a new property).
Is it worth getting your meter changed?
We have covered the value of economy 7 meters before, but just to highlight the key point, if you use more than 40% of your electricity at night (between 12 and 7am), it is worth staying on the dual rate tariff, or indeed moving to it. If you are using less than that, you are better off moving to a single rate tariff.
It is surprising how much you could save, and we have seen customers switching both ways that have saved £200 a year by switching from dual to single or vice versa. So it really is a good idea for some households. You can work out the savings by taking a close look at your bills, or even speaking to your provider.
How easy is it to change meters?
Depending on your supplier, this might be as simple as a phone call and a change of tariff, or it could mean changing the meter over to a new single rate model. It is certainly possible for the supplier just to take 2 readings instead of one and charge the same rate for both, but some companies do not like to do this and will want you to switch.
There does not seem to be a particular pattern here – some providers will be happy to just change your tariff, whilst others insist on a new meter. If you are switching providers, try calling both your old and new company before the switch happens to see if you can get it done cheaper by either company.
Does it cost to get your meter changed?
Most energy companies will charge you to switch to a different type of meter, whether that be single to dual, or dual to single. This can vary from £60 to a few hundred, but some providers will make the switch for free.
2 meters vs. dual meter
This is less common but it can complicate the situation, depending on a number of factors. Some customers have 2 meters in one house, one for day rate and one for night rate, whilst other customers will have 2 meters with different appliances running off of each meter – usually because the property used to be 2 flats for example. The approach for you here should still be to try your energy provider as a first option, but if you don’t get any joy, you should try contacting your regional electricity network supplier, which is often written somewhere near your meters. They own the meters and will likely be able to help you get your meters changed. If you have 2 separate MPAN numbers, it is worth trying to get these combined as you will not be paying 2 separate standing charges!
Think carefully before switching meters
Changing your meter over can be a really drawn out and frustrating process. The energy companies often take weeks to get an engineer to you, and there can be complicating factors, so make sure the savings are there first before you proceed. It really can be worth it for some customers, whilst others are better sticking with what they’ve got.