They say time is money. But would you be surprised to hear that simply checking the clock on your electricity meter could save you hundreds of pounds a year? Clocks showing the wrong time are going unnoticed…
That’s the experience of a number of Which? members who have told us about problems with time-of-use tariffs, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10.
These types of tariff offer electricity at a cheaper rate during some hours and a higher one the rest of the time.
So, if your meter clock is wrong, you may find you’ve been charged over-the-odds for what you thought was cheaper electricity.
That’s what happened to Which? member Gary Day, who told us he found his own and his neighbours’ meter clocks were up to three hours out.
Thousands in over-payments
Retired engineer Gary only spotted the problem when he went away for a few months, leaving just his heating on during the low-rate hours. When he returned he was shocked to discover a bill showing he had used most of his electricity at the higher rate.
Gary then found his and his neighbours’ clocks were all telling the wrong time and has told us how they won back about £2,300 in over-payments from supplier Swalec. He told us:
‘I have only checked four meters and every single one of them was wrong. I am horrified that there are probably hundreds of others that have these clock errors and don’t realise it.’
Checking your clock
Swalec said staff don’t have to check the clocks when they read meters – but added if they happen to notice any problems they must report them.
Unless the customer owns the meter, it is the supplier’s responsibility to ensure meter clocks are correct. However, current rules don’t require suppliers to check the clocks.
They do say suppliers must take ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure the accuracy of the amount and time the electricity was supplied – but this isn’t exactly the same thing.
If you suspect your electricity meter is faulty, the supplier must investigate. But this means the emphasis is on you to check.
And that’s not always simple. Peak and off-peak times vary between tariffs, regions and seasons. Add the fact that the clock can be hard to find on many meters and it can become a pretty tricky task.
Do you think it’s fair that suppliers don’t have to check the accuracy of clocks? Have you found that your own clock is inaccurate?