Getting to know your business electricity meter
Whilst you're at work, your business's electricity meter is also putting in a shift. The job of an electricity meter is to track your energy usage so you can be correctly billed for what you use. Electricity meters can seem quite complicated, so here is a quick play-by-play of the different meters you might find at your business premise.
Some meters will go over and above for you - automatically sending details of your usage back to your supplier. Others are not so advanced, which means you will still have to manually submit meter readings ...
Single rate, two rate, and three rate meters
Most businesses right now will still have a meter that requires popping your head into the utility cupboard and sending us over a reading once a month. These meters don't have any "smart" functionality and will offer you either a single rate, two or three rates for your energy consumption depending on how they are set up. There is a national shift away from these meters towards smart meters which don't require any monthly readings , but it's important to know how your current meter operates.
If your supply number (which can be found on a previous bill or statement from your energy supplier) starts with an ‘03’, then you have a single rate meter.
The unit price (per kWh of energy) for single rate meters remains the same throughout the day and night- so you will always be charged the same amount for your energy supply, regardless of what time of day it is. If your business operates at normal 9-5 office hours a single rate meter will suit you just fine. You might also consider a fixed rate tariff where your unit rates and standing charge don't change.
Two Rate Meter
If a lot of your business operations take place at night, then you might have a two rate meter installed. A two rate meter offers two different energy prices: one ‘on-peak’ and one ‘off- peak’, which comes into play at night when the wholesale price of energy is a lot cheaper. More often than not, the supply number for a two rate meter will begin with an ‘04’.
There are a few different types of two rate meters, but the ones we interact with the most are:
Economy 7- This meter gives you a 7 hour window where electricity is offered at its cheapest ‘off-peak’ price. The time of your seven hour window depends on which distribution network you live in. The UK has 14 distribution networks with 14 slightly different ‘off-peak’ times.
Evening and Weekend meter- These kinds of meters are slightly more complex and less common. They offer one rate during the evening and the weekend, and another rate during the regular working day.
Three Rate Meter
A three rate meter unsurprisingly offers three different rates - a daytime, evening and night rate. The night time rate is the cheapest and the daytime rate the most expensive, with the evening rate sitting somewhere in the middle. We currently don't offer a specific tariff for these kinds of meters.
‘AMR’ stands for automatic meter readings, and they do exactly what they say on the tin- automatically read your energy meter for you. This means that you don't need to send us anything over apart from an initial meter reading when you first come on supply. A third party data collector will take over, validating the meter readings from your AMR and send them over to your supplier.
AMR meters can provide half-hourly data about your consumption, but you can also have an AMR meter that's setup non half-hourly. Half-hourly data literally means that a meter tracks information about your energy consumption every half an hour and logs it, so you can have a much more accurate picture of how much electricity you are using and when.
Whether your AMR meter is half-hourly or non half-hourly will depend on a number of things, but bigger businesses with a three phase meter will usually generate half-hourly data. You can find out more about what it means to have a one or three phase meter on our three phase blog.
If your supply number (which can be found on a previous bill or statement from your energy supplier) starts with an ‘00’, then you have a half-hourly meter. As the energy industry becomes more technologically agile and we lean into a smarter energy grid, these meters are becoming increasingly common for businesses of all sizes.
The benefit of a half-hourly meter is much more accurate billing, as we can get so much more information from the meter - literally, readings every half an hour. When you have a half-hourly meter you can provide us with your 'demand profile', which lays out your entire energy consumption, every half hour, for the last year. This helps your supplier predict your energy usage much more precisely for the next year, enabling us to provide you with incredibly accurate quotes.
Half-hourly meters, however, also require the involvement of third parties who will send the half-hourly data over to your supplier.
Smart meters are the future of energy and the most efficient meters to have. They share your usage directly with your supplier, so no more monthly readings or third party involvement. Smart meters are also often called SMETS 1 or SMETS 2 meters, dependent on what version you have.
The main benefit of smart meters is the granularity of data, which is immediately shared with your supplier every 30 minutes. This means that customers with a smart meter can move onto more dynamic time-of-use tariffs. Time-of-use tariffs track your energy usage and can directly charge you cheaper rates at certain times of night or day, when demand is at its lowest in line with your energy usage. Smart meters also allow certain businesses to access our special products like Panel Power, for businesses with solar panels, Vertical Power, for the vertical farming industry, and Electric Juice, for electric charge point operators.
Your smart meter can be connected to an in house display unit which will show you exactly how much energy you’re using and what it costs. The benefit of this is you can start to really understand your business's energy usage and work out what is the best tariff for your operations, and how you can balance out your energy usage throughout the day.
We are currently offering smart meter installations to all of our domestic customers, and we will soon begin offering them to business customers too. You can read our blogs about domestic smart meters here, and see our FAQ’s for domestic smart meters here.
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