How prepayment, credit and smart energy meters work


Energy companies use different types of meters to measure how much energy we use, based on our credit history.

Prepayment meters

As the name suggests, with a prepayment meter (also called a prepayment meter), you pay in advance for your gas and / or electricity using a token, card or card. key and the credit is then deducted. It works on the same principle as a pay phone and there is no credit check involved.

However, it is the most expensive way to pay for your energy, although it can be useful if your budget is tight. And if you don’t have enough money to buy credit, you won’t have energy, although the providers do offer an emergency credit amount.

You may be put on a prepayment meter if you are late in paying your bills and the amount you owe will be taken from your credit.

Prepayment meters can be a problem if you don’t live near a post office or store that offers top-ups. And you have to remember to charge them enough if you go.

Credit counters

The majority of people use credit meters, which record your gas and / or electricity consumption. You are then billed on an estimated or accurate basis, depending on the last time an accurate meter reading was taken.

Credit meters record your energy use in a number of ways – from aluminum disks in standard meters to dial meters to digital meters.

If you are on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff, the meter will display two sets of digits – one for the day tariff and one for the night tariff.

Your credit can be checked before you can use a credit meter, whether it’s when you move into a new home, change providers, or request a switch from a prepayment meter.

Switching from a prepayment meter to a credit meter can take several weeks when the meters are turned off.

Smart meters

The government wants to install smart meters in every UK home. Smart meters use specialized software to send accurate readings of energy consumption to energy suppliers. The idea is that they will also encourage us to reduce our energy consumption by clearly showing us how much it costs.

The level of information that smart meters will collect continues to be of concern.

Some energy providers are already installing smart meters, although the main installation program is not expected to be completed until 2020.

See if you can save money by switching energy providers

Learn more about energy

How to change energy supplier

Ten ways to save energy

How are gas and electricity bills calculated

Who owns the big UK energy companies?

Where to get help paying your energy bills

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