10th May 2016
It is now easier than ever to get rid of your prepaid energy meter and the best part is that it is absolutely free. As of this month, all of the big six energy firms now offer customers to switch to a standard meter at no cost. But before you make the decision to switch, you should weigh the pros and cons.
Prepaid meters can be beneficial in regards to helping customers manage their energy usage. When credit is running low, users tend to be more mindful of leaving lights or other electric equipment running unnecessarily. This also prevents hefty and unexpected energy bills, which in turn will help those trying to budget.
However, prepaid meters can be significantly more expensive. The typical prepay user pays an average of £1,140 per year while the current cheapest direct debit standard meter tariff is £750 per year. Additionally, prepaid meters can be very inconvenient as you need to top up at a local shop and failing to do so can leave you without any electricity. Worst of all, for older meters, prices must be imputed manually, which can take months. So if the price falls, you may be forced to pay too much for a while.
In order to be rid of your prepaid meter, you first need to be eligible to switch to a standard. This requires you to pay any outstanding debt on your current energy account and obtain a credit score. The energy company you are currently using will carry out the credit check and give approval to change to a standard meter.
It’s important to remember that you are not obligated to stick with your current provider once they change the meter. Instead, this is when you should shop around and compare tariffs to find the most economical option.
If you aren’t with one of the big six energy providers, smaller providers sometimes charge over £100 to switch to a standard meter. To avoid this cost, simply switch to a provider that still provides prepaid energy but also allows you to switch meters for free. These providers include British Gas, EDF, E.on, First Utility, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE.
As the new meter needs to be physically installed at the residence, you must have your landlord’s permission to switch. Make sure you explain to your landlord that the energy bill will remain in your name. If you choose to move out, you can take your fixed energy tariff with you and any outstanding debt remains with you, the tenant, not the property. When a tenant leaves, the property moves onto a standard price tariff with the same supplier.