- Homes with RTS energy meters have more time to install a smart meter
- Those who refuse risk losing access to cheaper nightly electricity rates.
Households who were told their off-peak energy meters could stop working properly have been given an extension, but must still get a smart meter in the next 12 months or risk losing nighttime electricity cheaper.
Earlier this week, This is Money reported that the technology powering 900,000 older meters used for Economy 7 and 10 tariffs would be switched off from March 31.
Many of these meters run on technology called Radio Teleswitch (RTS), which uses BBC longwave radio to inform energy companies when a home is using peak or off-peak power.
That principle underpins many off-peak energy tariffs, which offer cheaper electricity at night, allowing households to use appliances for less. The best known off-peak fares are Economy 7 and Economy 10.
Higher bills: Economy 7 or 10 customers who don’t get a smart meter will lose access to cheaper off-peak electricity
RTS meters are used for these off-peak offerings, although smart meters also work, as do older mechanical meters with a clock, which will continue to work regardless.
The agreement allowing energy companies to use the RTS system was due to expire at the end of March 2024, which could have left many households with irregular access to off-peak energy deals.
Energy companies even warned some households that they could be left without heat and hot water if they did not update their meters.
But after last-minute talks, energy company Energy UK’s trade body announced earlier this week that this deadline would be brought forward to March 2025.
However, any household with an RTS meter now will have to purchase a smart meter in the coming months or risk their current one not working properly from next March.
Energy regulator Ofgem expects energy companies to replace all RTS meters with smart meters at least 3 to 4 months before service is cut.
That means all homes with RTS meters must install a smart meter within the next 12 months.
The alternative is to keep your current meter, but you risk losing full use of low-cost energy deals if the RTS system shuts down in 2025.
About to disappear: energy companies will replace old RTS meters with smart meters
An Energy UK spokesperson said: “We can confirm that an agreement has been reached ensuring the RTS service will continue until 2025.
‘While discussions are taking place to confirm when the RTS service will end, electricity providers are contacting homes and businesses with RTS to arrange a smart meter upgrade and we strongly encourage customers to respond without delay.
“Equally, any customer who believes they may be affected by this should contact their supplier as soon as possible.”
The March 31 deadline had to be extended as energy companies had no hope of installing enough smart meters in time.
Replacing all these old RTS meters with smart ones by March 31 would have required energy companies to install around 21,500 smart meters per day and focus solely on RTS customers.
But these companies only manage just over 9,000 smart meter installations per day for all customers, according to the latest Government figures.
Some energy companies have already replaced 75 per cent of their customers’ RTS meters, while others have only managed to replace 10 per cent, according to Ofgem statistics.
If a customer with an RTS meter has any concerns about switching to a smart meter, Ofgem’s recommendation is that they discuss this with their energy company.