How electricity prepayment meters work
How electricity prepayment meters work (not smart)
You pay for your electricity up front when you have an electricity prepayment meter. This can give you more control: you choose when you top up – and how much you spend each time.
Understanding the screens on your gas prepayment meter (not smart)
You'll find lots of useful information on your prepayment meter – you just need to know where to look!
Many electricity meters show a letter at the top of each screen (see the codes below). Other meters show a screen title to tell you what you're looking at.
You can scroll through the different screens by pressing the blue button on your meter. Some screens only show when you have your key in the meter.
A – credit or debt on your meter
The number you see on screen A shows you how much credit, emergency credit or debt is on your electricity meter.
Just see a number? That's the amount of credit you have on your meter.
See an 'e' next to the number? That says you're using emergency credit; the number tells you how much of it is left.
See the word 'DEBT'? That tells you that you're in debt; the number tells you how much debt you're in. It includes:
- any emergency credit you've used
- any missed standing charges or instalment plan payments
- the cost of any 'non-disconnection' energy you've used after running out of credit out of hours.
C – time and unit rate
Screen C shows you the time and your unit rate ('R'). Economy 7 customers, either see 'R1' (day) or 'R2' (night). Everyone else just sees 'R1'.
D – date and unit rate
Screen D shows you the date and your unit rate ('R'). Economy 7 customers, either see 'R1' (day) or 'R2' (night). Everyone else just sees 'R1'.
E – total credit
Screen E tells you the total amount of credit that's been added to the meter since it's installation, or since it was last reset by an engineer.
F – weekly instalment plan and standing charges
You can go to Screen F to see how much you're paying each week for standing charges and any instalment plan you might have.
H – meter reading
This is the screen you need if we've asked you for a meter reading. It shows you how many units of electricity you've used since your last reading
For Economy 7 customers, this is your 'R1' meter reading – which shows you how much day-rate (peak) electricity you've used.
I – unit rate
Screen I shows your unit rate. This is the price you pay for every unit of electricity you use.
For Economy 7 customers, this is your Rate 1 unit price (your 'day' or 'peak' rate).
J – R2 meter reading
This screen is only for Economy 7 customers. You'll need this screen if we've asked you for a meter reading.
It shows your 'R2' meter reading – which tell us how much 'night' of 'off-peak' electricity you've used.
Screen H shows your R1 meter reading.
K – R2 unit rate
This screen is only for Economy 7 customers. It shows your Rate 2 unit rate (the price you pay for every unit of 'night' or 'off-peak' electricity you use).
R – emergency credit allowance
This screen confirms that you get £6 of emergency credit allowance on your electricity prepayment meter. You can only see this screen when you have your key in the meter.
S – instalment plan balance
Go to Screen S to check how much you have left on your instalment plan. You can only see this screen when you have your key in the meter.
T – weekly instalment
Go to Screen T to see how much you pay each week on your instalment plan. You can only see this screen when you have your key in the meter.
Budget and manage your electricity spend with your prepayment meter (not smart)
A traditional electricity prepayment meter (not smart) can help you manage your energy spend:
- Choose when you top up, and how much to spend each time – so there are no unexpected bills to worry about
- Set a limit on the amount of credit you spend at one time – so you can save the rest for later (only available with some meter types)
Does your electricity prepayment meter have a white or grey button on it? If it does, you can set a limit on the amount of credit you spend in one go.
How it works:
1. Top up your key in the usual way, and put it into your meter
2. Press the white or grey budget button, until you see the amount of credit you're happy to spend
3. Once you've used up this credit, your electricity supply will stop
To get your electricity started again, just take out your key and put it back into the meter.
What happens if I run out of electricity credit – or can't top up my electricity meter?
You have £6 of emergency credit on your electricity prepayment meter that you can use in case of emergency.
If you run out of credit and emergency credit, you won't be able to turn your electricity on. You'll also start going into debt for any daily standing charges and debt repayments you miss.
Your electricity will come back on as soon as you top up. Just remember to add enough credit to pay for your emergency credit and debt – as well as your ongoing electricity use.
Struggling to pay for your energy? Please get in touch. We can work with you to see what help is available.
What you need to know about 'non-disconnection hours'We don't want you to worry about running out of credit in the middle of the night – or at any time on a Sunday or bank holiday. That's why many electricity prepayment meters have a 'friendly non-disconnection' period. This means your electricity won't cut out if you run out of credit when it can be difficult to get to a shop.
Find out more about non-disconnection hours