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Prepayment Meters - What's Worth Knowing?

Prepayment meters have long been part of the UK's energy landscape. They allow users to pay for their electricity and gas in advance, which can help manage budgets.

Prepayment Meters - A Guide to what they are

Prepayment meters have long been part of the UK's energy landscape. They allow users to pay for their electricity and gas in advance, which can help manage budgets.

What Are Prepayment Meters?

A prepayment meter essentially works like a pay-as-you-go system for energy. Customers top up their meters with credit in advance, using a key, card, or digital payment - if they have a smart meter - and then use the energy until the credit runs out.

This system can help prevent unexpected bills and reduce the risk of debt accumulation. However, it's crucial to regularly monitor and top up the meter to avoid disconnection. Having a  pay as you go smart meter can help with keeping an eye on credit and make it easier to top up.

Benefits Of Smart Prepayment Meters

Smart prepayment meters offer several benefits:

  1. Easy Top-Up: You can top up online, by text, phone, or app. You can also top up from anywhere you get internet access.

  2. Track Your Credit: Smart meters come with an in-home display that shows how much energy you’ve used and how much credit you have left, so you can keep track more easily.

  3. Managing Your Energy Usage: The smart meter display also shows how much energy you're using in near real-time. This can help you to find more ways to reduce energy usage and save money on energy bills.

How To Avoid Running Out Of Credit

Keep Records Of When You Top Up

Maintaining a log of your top-up dates and amounts can help you predict when you'll need to top up next. This can be done manually or through apps provided by your energy supplier.

  • Manual Log: You can keep a notebook or a spreadsheet where you note down each time you add credit. This way, you can see patterns and predict when you will need to top up again.

  • Apps and Digital Solutions: Many energy suppliers offer apps that can help to track your top-ups and provide reminders. These can be more convenient and provide additional insights into your energy usage.

Measure How Long Your Credit Lasts

By monitoring how long it takes for your credit to run out, you can establish a pattern and better plan your top-ups to avoid running out.

  • Average Usage Calculation: Calculate your average daily or weekly usage by dividing the total credit used by the number of days or weeks. This can help you predict how long a specific amount of credit will last.

  • Seasonal Adjustments: Take into account seasonal changes. For instance, you might use more energy in winter for heating. Adjust your top-ups accordingly to avoid running out during peak usage times.

  • Struggling To Afford To Top Up?: You should contact your supplier straight away if you cannot afford to top up your meter. Our rules mean that they must offer support. This includes extra support credit if you're in a vulnerable situation and have few options to pay and additional support credit while you work out ways to pay.

  • If you can't afford to top up your prepayment meter: You might be able to get a fuel voucher. You'll get the voucher as a code in a letter, text message or email. You can use it to add credit to your gas card or electricity key. If you don't have one of these, contact your supplier to get one.

Utilise Your In-Home Display (IHD)

If you have a smart meter, use the IHD to keep an eye on your energy usage and remaining credit. This device makes it easier to manage your energy consumption and top-ups.

  • Near Real-Time Monitoring: The IHD provides near real-time updates on your energy consumption, allowing you to see how much energy different appliances use and make adjustments to save credit.

  • Alerts and Notifications: Many IHDs can be set to alert you when your credit is low, helping to prevent running out unexpectedly.

Do You Need A Special Meter For Prepayment?

Analogue Meters: Yes, you will need a specific prepayment meter. Traditional analogue credit meters cannot function on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Smart Meters: No, if you have a smart meter, it can operate in either credit or prepayment mode. This flexibility allows users to switch between payment methods without changing the meter.

To Summarise

Whether you opt for a traditional prepayment meter or a smart meter, staying on top of your credit and knowing the best practices can help you maintain control over your energy costs. Keeping records, utilising available technology, and ensuring proper setup when moving can significantly enhance your experience with prepayment meters.


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