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Are you losing money due to faulty electricity meter clocks?

Clock with light

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

GaryRetired 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?

Comments
Guest
bishbut says:
2 October 2017

Many timers are run by electricity so when your electric goes off the clock stops and does not start until the power returns so the time will be wrong until it’s reset Check all timers frequently

Guest
Steve says:
12 February 2018

My meter measures all the electricity I use on the day rate. The night rate reading hasn’t changed since I moved in. I called the supplier and their guy said the meter cannot charge me the day rate at night, so I must be getting my night-time electricity free. I suspect this is not the case, and have decided I will turn all my heating on after midnight one night and check the day rate reading before and after (no need to check the night rate reading – it hasn’t changed in two years

Guest

If your supplier will not take action then you could contact Citizens Advice or the Energy Ombudsman. You should be able to claim back the estimated amount that you have overpaid.

Guest
Mark says:
15 April 2018

I have a big proble which I suppose has been going in since I have lived in my property 20 years I am on econ 10 tariff and recently installed smart meter I now notice I am paying full rate instead of off peak if this Han being doing this for 20 years am I entitled to a rebate and compensation

Guest

I suggest you start by contacting your energy supplier, Mark. From what I have read, Economy 10 was not available until 2004. Unless you have evidence that the meter clock has been wrong for years I suspect that it will be difficult to make a claim beyond the date of the last meter reading. If it is difficult to check the time settings on your meter then that will help your case.

Clocks that are kept accurate by radio signals are commonplace and inexpensive, so I wonder why problems with meter clocks still exist. Some sort of aerial might be needed for them to work in older properties where meters are often under the stairs.

Guest

Wavechange I have just had a new boiler installed by BG , I talked to the electrician about the Hive unit connected to the hall temperature regulator remotely ( same frequency as a Microwave oven unlike the previous one ) I told him -no way do I want a “smart meter or will allow it but they arent my supplier anyway , I asked about the transmission of BG smart-meters and to my surprise he said BG ones connect to the INTERNET via a unit attached to the router/modem NOT via external RF transmission to a receiver . This makes sense as our regional council emergency alarm system operates via the telephone system with a special unit and picks up smoke sensors in the home and relay,s it to a control centre as well as voice operated . Data is then controlled by the internet including time .

Guest
Robin Bailey says:
21 February 2018

A variation here – yes the time clock was wrong & SSE came & adjusted. We still thought something wrong with our bill as similar properties bills were much lower on average. Called our electrician who checked everything , no faults. He then switched all our power off at the distribution boards. Result – meter is clocking 20-21 units per day with nothing switched on. SSE cannot get here for a month ! I am recording meter readings daily but how I prove we are not using power I do not know. We are not living in the property at the moment.

Guest
Hiten Master says:
7 April 2018

Appliances on timer? Is your meter in a communal area because you can do a kettle/burns test to correctly identify it’s your meter.
If faulty, report the meter fault to your current supplier. They may change your meter and monitor the usage for a year before re-estimating what has been used the previous year assuming all previous bills have been paid.

Guest
Hiten Master says:
7 April 2018

Economy 7 meters have a 2 hour allowance either way from the clock on the meter because they don’t adjust automatically to incorporate summer and winter times. Adjust the timings on your appliances to the meter to benefit from the off-peak rate. Sorted.