With energy prices set to increase again in January, we’re all doing anything we can to use less gas and electricity in our homes, but there may be other ways you can save money.

Knowing what type of meter you have and the most efficient way of using it can be very beneficial and save you money.

Prepayment meters

A prepayment meter is a meter you must top up with money before using the energy. You’ll have a prepayment meter if you have a key or card, which you have to add money onto to use your gas and electricity.

Prepayment meters can be helpful if you wish to ‘pay as you go’ or pay for your energy in small amounts frequently.

They can, however, be more expensive, as the unit rates on prepayment energy tariffs tend to be higher than other tariffs.

Am I allowed to change my prepayment meter?

If you’re on a prepayment meter and no longer wish to be, you may be able to have your meter changed for free, depending on your situation and your supplier.

All suppliers require you to have cleared any outstanding debt, and some may require you to complete a credit check. Please check with your supplier to find out whether they will charge you for changing to a standard meter and their criteria.

If you’re renting, it’s also a good idea to check with your landlord before getting your meter changed – you shouldn’t need their permission, but they can make you change it back to a prepayment meter before you move out, so it’s worth knowing where you stand before making any changes.

How to save money on a prepayment meter

As the most expensive type of meter, the most efficient thing to do is to change to a standard credit meter. If you can’t or don’t wish to do so, you can read our recent article on the best ways to use less energy.

Economy 7 or 10

Economy 7, or Economy 10 meters, are electricity meters that offer you seven or ten hours of cheaper electricity through the night. These are usually found in properties that have storage heaters rather than radiators and only use electricity.

If you’re unsure whether you have an economy 7/10 meter, you should be able to find out by checking your latest energy statement – the name of your energy tariff should allude to this, as you have to have a specific tariff for these types of meters.

How to save money on an Economy 7 or 10 meter

First of all, it’s important to check your tariff. With these types of meters, you should have a tariff which gives you a cheaper unit rate for seven or ten hours during the evening – it’s good to check the time period your electricity will be cheaper, as you want to use more during these hours and limit use in the day where possible.

If you have storage heaters, these should be turned on during the hours of cheaper electricity, as they then heat up overnight and release the heat throughout the day without needing to be switched on.

It’s also worth checking whether your appliances have timers that can be set – you should always try to use expensive appliances like washing machines and dishwashers overnight while they’re cheaper to run.

Can I change to a standard meter?

If you have an economy 7 meter but would rather have a consistent unit rate throughout the day, some suppliers will change your meter for free. Alternatively, if you have a smart meter, many suppliers will allow you to switch to a single-rate tariff without having a new meter installed.

Standard credit meters

If you’re not on either of the above meters, you’ll probably be on a standard credit meter – these are the most common energy meters.

If you don’t have a smart meter, your supplier will ask you to take regular meter readings so that they know how much energy you’re using and how much to charge you. However, if you have a smart meter, you won’t need to take readings, as these are automatically sent to your supplier.

How to save money on a standard credit meter

Many people aren’t aware of this, but your energy provider will charge you less for the energy you use if you pay by direct debit rather than on receipt of bill – this makes their process more efficient and cheaper, meaning they can charge less. So, if you’re currently paying for what you’ve used at the end of each month, it may be worth switching to a direct debit.

Smart meters

Smart meters are also an excellent way to save money as they help you track and reduce your usage. Many suppliers will install a smart meter at your home for free, so it’s worth checking with your supplier.

To find out if BudgetSmart could help you cut your costs, you can visit our BudgetSmart web app. If you’re worried about your finances and need free debt advice, we can help. Contact us on 0800 316 1833 to get started or visit payplan.com