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Are gas/electric pre-payment metres REALLY that much of a rip-off?

(16 Posts)
DraenorQueen Sun 26-Jun-16 18:21:41

My current rental has a pre-payment metre for the electric (no gas here) and everyone told me it'd be a nightmare. I've looked at my statement and in the Winter months the most I spent was £70/month but most months were £40-£50. For a 2 bed house I don't think that's too bad.

The house I've just bought has got pre-payment metres for both gas and electric. I'm quite tempted to leave them in place - I've quite enjoyed not having direct debits, and having zero chance of getting into a mess with utility companies, as I have done in the past.

Would it be a really bad idea to keep them for a few months and see how it goes just whacking £50 on each at the start of the month? Or is it massively financially stupid?

sequinsandwich Sun 26-Jun-16 18:31:35

I use a meter and I've had no problems. I haven't really researched other tariffs etc. I enjoy putting in virtually nothing during the summer. I believe we have around a £1 per week standing charge. Summer time I spend about £20 every 4-5 weeks and in winter about £15 per 1-2 weeks. Live in a 2 bed carpeted flat.

sequinsandwich Sun 26-Jun-16 18:31:59

Only use it for gas sorry smile

DraenorQueen Sun 26-Jun-16 18:37:33

Wow that's incredibly reasonable!! Thanks for the info.

Gracey79 Sun 26-Jun-16 18:39:00

I've recently bought a new house which had one in, when I phoned to change they told me that they were no longer allowed to change more for being on a meter as such the downside is you don't get to pick a tarrif which could work out cheaper dependant on usage

Naoko Sun 26-Jun-16 18:41:29

I think it depends massively on the house. Ours is poorly insulated and the storage heaters are quite probably older than I am; in winter we spend about £130 a month. I had the meter removed at Christmas so can't tell yet if it works out cheaper over the year, but it's certainly projected to (by about £300, assuming last year's usage).

specialsubject Sun 26-Jun-16 18:41:51

I think that there is still some scope for changing supplier - look on the comparison sites.

as always, it depends most on what you use. BUT direct debits, dual fuel tariff and online billing can get you some discounts so do the research.

donajimena Sun 26-Jun-16 18:41:55

I have them and I don't have a debt but I am happy with them. I'm far more responsible with my fuel use and like you I enjoy not having to worry about a bill.
I also know that the tumble dryer does not eat electric as my partner keeps telling me!

anyoldname76 Sun 26-Jun-16 18:44:54

ive got both gas and electric meters, i prefer them. plus im more economical as im more aware how much im using on a weekly basis. electric costs around £10 a week, gas varies from next to nothing to £25 a week in winter. i live in a 3bed house

DraenorQueen Sun 26-Jun-16 19:14:01

Thanks for these positive stories! I'm definitely going to keep them for the time being and see how things go. However I'll get them changed over to EDF ASAP as I've always found them the cheapest and fab customer service. Hmm, do they do gas as well as elec?

GrubbyWindows Sun 26-Jun-16 20:00:32

Ebico is an ethical supplier who has one tariff for everyone- meter users to direct debiters. Lovely to deal with in my experience, and decent value.

DraenorQueen Sun 26-Jun-16 20:48:22

Wow, massive thanks - never even heard of them! Going to google now...

specialsubject Sun 26-Jun-16 20:58:07

I've just been doing some comparisons. Ebico don't charge standing charges. Their unit rates are roughly twice what the others charge.

knock up a quick spreadsheet with your actual use before you switch.

VoleSnuffle Sun 26-Jun-16 21:51:00

I used to work for npower.

Prepayment meters cost more as the electricity/gas company have to maintain the payments sites and equipment so that charge is passed on to the customer. I know some suppliers may now allow you to top up online so therefore possibly cheaper.

However, the cost of the keys/cards, the terminal machines in the shops that allow you top up the key/card, the training of staff in those shops to operate the machines etc means that as a customer you cost more.

Direct debit payers get the cheapest deal because that guaranteed money coming in every month means the company earns interest on that money in their bank account.

People who pay quarterly come in the middle of the prepayment meter customers and the DD payers.

They are seen as a negative because a lot of times they are installed because someone has run up a debt and are sometimes forced to pay it back through the meter (I used to deal with warrants to break in to people's houses to change the meter over.)

But it can help people budget. We even had people use them as a savings scheme when the debt was paid but they wanted a refund cheque near Christmas grin but we discouraged it because it cost the company to produce the cheques.

If you are happy with the meter then keep it. Just have a plan in place in case you are ill or injured and can't top up your card yourself.

icclemunchy Sun 26-Jun-16 22:06:35

We have meters and prefer them. I know I could always scrabble a fiver in change from around the house (worst case!!) and we have a petrol station that does the top ups opposite my house.

We also use less gas and electric because I'm conscious of what I'm spending

CremeEggThief Mon 27-Jun-16 00:00:28

I swapped my pre-pay meters to smart meters with Ovo at the beginning of May and pay roughly £10 per week for both electricity and gas, which I think is good. I was a bit dubious about them at first, but I quite like not having to save up for and pay large utility bills now.

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