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Switching from Economy 7 to a single rate smart meter and plan - what's the process?

  • 19 September 2021
  • 11 replies
  • 136 views

Userlevel 1

Hi,

We are hoping to remove our two old storage heaters, which do not suit our lifestyle, and replace with new electric radiators. 

We currently have an old meter and two consumer units, one of which is just for the storage heaters (pictured).

 

I would like to remove the storage heaters, have the new radiators wired into this existing consumer unit and have a single rate tariff.

My question is would moving to a smart meter be the first thing to do, and then switch over from economy 7 when it has been fitted? Would the second consumer unit then automatically be set up to run on a fixed rate tariff, or would some further work our end be needed?

I have an electrician who can do the work for me, but he’s always busy I don’t want to change over without knowing what’s involved.

Any advice on how to move forward with this would be great. We’re hoping not to have to put the storage heaters on again this year.

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Best answer by Jess_OVO 20 September 2021, 14:19

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Userlevel 7
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Hey there @andycarne !

Good question this one, I like it. :)

As far as I’m aware, you may need to have an electrician do a bit of rewiring in regards to the consumer units, but this can probably be done at your own pace. I’d definitely recommend only doing this after the storage heaters are removed though, it’ll be easier that way!

As for the meter upgrade and tariff switch… Personally I’d probably say that these can be done after you’ve replaced the heating and it’ll probably be easier this way. As long as you don’t mind having a short stint still on E7 after replacing the heaters, you can almost certainly have OVO switch you to a Single-Rate Tariff as soon as they’re gone and then book a Smart Meter upgrade from there. It’ll be possible to make sure your billing is correct in the meantime by submitting both meter readings as you do now - MyOVO will do some additional number crunching to flatten the readings and calculate from there.

You’ll probably want to make these arrangements over the phone though, as a change from E7 to Single-Rate requires verbal confirmation.

Let me also borrow the expertise of @PeterR1947 as well. I think he knows a lot more about the electrical wiring than I do.

In theory, it might be possible to have a Five-Terminal S2 Smart Meter installed and then just have it configured to leave all circuits active 24/7 once you’re on a Single-Rate setup, since that would at least allow you to easily switch to E7 in the future if needed. But it all depends on what’s considered the most appropriate setup.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hi @andycarne First a suggestion if you are sure about moving to a single rate tariff, this suggestion obviously depends on your budget.  I think I see that your consumer units are both plastic cased, is this correct?  If so, you might want to consider having your electrician replacing both consumer units with a single metal cased CU, this of course depends on the cable lengths available; plastic cased CUs are no longer used due to fire risks.  That’s just an option you might not have thought of.

The first step is to have your E7 kit removed, obviously this involves removing the timeswitch and you may find that your current supplier will fit a smart meter at the same time, fingers crossed, this would solve the metering problem.  Your electrician could then install a single CU at the same time if that’s what you decide to do. The rewiring of your new electric radiators can then be set up by your electrician.

Userlevel 7

Welcome to the OVO online community, @andycarne.

 

A great question to ask about upgrading your meter to a single-rate smart meter.

 

Our knowledgeable community members have already given some great advice in terms of the changes you might need to make to the wiring once your storage heaters are removed - as ever we’d always recommend enlisting a registered electrician to carry out this work.

 

In terms of your meter - the good news is that we’re now installing S2 Aclara meters - these are available as a 5-port meter (which would be needed if your storage heaters were staying) or the standard 4-port meter - so either way you can certainly look to make a smart upgrade!

 

Once the smart meter has been installed the function of your meter can easily be changed from a dual-rate to a single rate mode if you no longer think a dual-rate plan is the best option for you. To request this you’d need to contact our Support Team after the smart meters have been installed. Your plan will be updated to match the single rate prices available when your current fixed plan started or the current single-rate variable price, if you’re on the Simpler Energy plan. Our Support Team will confirm these rates before updating your plan. 

 

We’re really interested to hear you’re looking to replace your current storage heaters with another form of electric heating - do you have a heating system in mind? 

Userlevel 1

Thank you all for your helpful advice and suggestions. Plenty to think about.

Our electrician has suggested modern storage heaters with thermostats, but we don’t think they are right for us. We are looking to install programmable electric radiators in 3 or more rooms and set them to suit our use of the rooms. We both usually work away from the house, so don’t need the heating on much of the time during the day, but we want to be able to have it when we need it. We don’t want to waste money, but we would rather pay that little extra to have a comfortable home. We may look at air-source heat pumps in the future, but right now we’re looking for an easy to install alternative to the storage heaters. We don’t have access to mains gas.

The availability of our electrician is a factor. We want to be able to get things up and running as soon as possible and how much work our electrician will have to do may affect our plans. Replacing the plastic consumer units might have to wait. I am hoping that we can replace the meter and switch from Economy 7 without involving him and get him to wire in the radiators (to the existing storage heater CU) at a later date. Once we are on a single rate, we could plug the electric radiators into sockets straight away.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

No worries! I hear you there.

One of my friends has storage heaters and he finds them a bit of a nightmare to manage properly sometimes. I can definitely understand that storage heaters do have valid and legitimate use cases under certain circumstances but they’re definitely not the best choice for everyone - especially if you don’t spend much time at home. I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve never used them myself and so I struggle a bit to fully grasp the concepts (and how to use them properly).

If you spend most of the time away and don’t have a predictable schedule, then I’d probably argue that storage heaters will not work very well. There’s a huge risk of charging them up tonight and then wasting all that heat (and money for the electricity bill!) tomorrow when you’re out all day while the heaters are simply blasting all the heat out for nothing… And then being a total ice cube by the time you get home. So yeah, you’re almost certain better off using something that is more instantaneous and less wasteful.

OVO (or your current supplier) can take care of the Meter Exchange and reconfiguring the contract for Single-Rate purposes at no extra charge - you’d just have to continue paying your electricity bill as normal. I don’t think you’d need to have an electrician do much re-wiring at that particular stage, but you can always have the MEX set you up with a Five-Terminal S2 Smart Meter so that it matches your existing setup - and definitely means you won’t need to get any re-wiring done during the MEX process. Once you’ve done that, OVO could configure it for Economy 7 Mode initially, and then reconfigure it to Single-Rate Mode later so that’s probably the easiest option for now.

You’ll probably want to resolve the other suggestions eventually, but you can definitely take things one step at a time. Having a MEX done is the one thing you can’t ask your electrician to do, so that’s probably the one I’d go for first.

Feel free to stop by anytime if you need a hand again or fancy sharing any updates. We’ll be here anytime you need us!

Userlevel 1

Thanks again for your advice. We’ve booked for a smart meter to be installed this week and we’ll take it from there.

Userlevel 1

We have now had a smart meter installed. Things didn’t go quite as we expected.

Unfortunately, the engineer who arrived to fit the new meter did not bring a 5-port meter with him, despite us indicating what we planned to do when booking the installation. I had to choose, while on my way out of the door to work, whether to have the second CU permanently on or disconnected. Since we have no plans to continue on Economy 7, I asked him to connect up the second CU, which he has done.

However, when my wife contacted OVO today to ask about switching from our Economy 7 Simpler Energy variable plan to a single rate Simpler Energy variable plan, she was initially told this would not be possible. She asked for an explanation in writing and at that point was put on hold. She was eventually offered a unit rate almost the same as our economy 7 daytime rate and higher daily fixed charge. The projected total yearly price was way below our real usage because they had just subtracted our nighttime usage without taking into account the extra daytime use we expect with electric radiators.

We are now in position where we are on an economy 7 tariff, with a meter that doesn’t cater for economy 7 and being offered a single rate tariff that is no better than our daytime rate. And we have no way back!

We appreciate that this has turned out to be a bad time to be making this change, but that is why I consulted the forum for advice.

Userlevel 6
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Can't ovo simply put him on the ofgem priced capped standard variable rate tariff if he asks them to? 

 

Would this be cheaper at the moment?

 @Jess_OVO @Tim_OVO

Userlevel 7

 

We have now had a smart meter installed. Things didn’t go quite as we expected.

 

Really sorry to hear the smart upgrade hasn’t quite been smooth sailing, @andycarne

 

It’s disappointing to hear that the requested change to your plan was initially refused, however it sounds that this may have been a case of mis-advice that has now been corrected. It’s worth bearing in mind that as your Simpler Energy plan is a variable plan, the unit rates and standing charges (both for the Economy 7 or the single-rate version of this plan) have recently increased in line with Ofgem’s price cap increase on 1st October.

 

I’m wondering if you’ve been able to compare the current rates on the single rate version of the plan to the recently increased Economy 7 rates, as the standard anytime rate should be slightly lower than the current daytime rate on an Economy 7 plan?

 

Userlevel 1

Hi Jess,

Thank you. We did think that that was perhaps the case. Where can we find the current rates to compare?

Userlevel 7

As the variable rates will depends on your area, I’m not able to confirm that here unfortunately, @andycarne.

 

If you haven’t yet changed your plan you should be able to check the ‘Plan’ page of your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS) to see the the Economy 7 rates:

 

Exact appearance may vary

 

You can then compare these to the rates you’ve been offered for the single rate Simpler plan. If you have any trouble seeing the rates here it’s worth reaching out to the Support Team (easiest way is via our Online chat which you can access here) who’ll be able to confirm both the single rate and dual rate version of this plan.

 

Do pop back and let us know how you get on. :thumbsup:

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