- Technology powering older Economy 7 and 10 meters will end soon
- Customers who use off-peak power must purchase a smart meter or lose cheap electricity
- Will you lose? Contact us: email@example.com
Almost a million homes and businesses will face having their cheap overnight electricity rates disconnected next month unless they have a smart meter installed.
Many households could even lose access to heat and hot water if they do not agree to have a smart meter.
This is because the technology powering the old Economy 7 and 10 meters will be switched off from March 31, and many owners of these devices face an uncertain future.
Economy 7 and 10 tariffs offer cheaper night-time electricity rates and are popular with households who want to save money by running appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers overnight or using overnight storage heaters.
To get these rates, households need to have a modern smart meter or an older meter running on 1980s technology called Radio Teleswitch (RTS).
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RTS uses BBC Radio 4’s longwave channel to communicate with energy companies. Energy companies use RTS to switch a meter between peak and off-peak rates.
According to figures from energy regulator Ofgem, there are around 900,000 active RTS meters in the UK.
The contract between the BBC and the energy companies to manage the RTS system ends on March 31, although This is Money understands there are last-minute talks to try to extend this deadline until 2025.
But if RTS service is disconnected, homes’ meters do not function properly and they may be left without hot water and heat.
Many energy companies are contacting their RTS meter customers and urging them to switch to a smart meter.
An email from EDF to an RTS meter customer says: ‘Once this service is closed, your meter may lose functionality and off-peak times may change.
“This could also lead to the loss of important functions such as heating and hot water.
‘You could also see an increase in costs as when the RTS service ends, off-peak service pick-ups may no longer be available.
“By upgrading your meter, you will be able to continue benefiting from your off-peak hours without needing the radio signal.”
The customer said: ‘EDF bombarded me a few months ago with emails telling me that my meter will no longer receive the signal (to switch to Economy 7) in 2024, which means my heating and hot water will probably not work, so I I will do. We need a smart meter well in advance because of the demand.
“So the previous harassment over the government’s insistence that I have one has now turned into what could be classified as veiled threats.”
A similar email to an Octopus customer said: ‘The technology that changes your meter from peak price to off-peak price will end in March 2024.
‘After the Radio Teleswitch Service (RTS) ends, your meter timings may not work as expected.
‘There is a simple solution: we need to replace your meter. Book your smart meter installation for a day that suits you best and we’ll take care of the rest.’
But many households don’t want a smart meter or can’t install one due to connectivity issues.
Some readers have told This is Money that their smart meter bills are wrong or that they feel intimidated into purchasing one.
Homes that do not want to lose their RTS meter can, in theory, keep it, as it is not mandatory to have a smart meter installed unless the old one is dangerous.
But maintaining an RTS meter will mean losing access to cheap nighttime electricity from Economy 7 and 10 rates in just a few weeks, unless the deadline is extended.
Instead, households that maintain RTS meters are likely to switch to an alternative energy arrangement with no off-peak tariffs.
An Ofgem spokesperson said: ‘Ofgem expects suppliers to ensure that appropriate measurement measures are in place for their consumers.
“This includes arranging for the replacement and upgrade of RTS measurement equipment ahead of any potential completion date and communicating clearly with consumers about this.”
Many Economy 7 and 10 tariffs are also popular with electric vehicle (EV) owners, who want cheaper electricity when recharging their cars overnight.
However, many EV owners will be affected by the end of the RTS service, as most EV-specific energy agreements already require households to have a smart meter to register.