There are different types of energy meters available on the market. One of them is the prepayment meter. When users pay for energy before using it, they usually make use of the prepayment domestic energy meters. Millions of homes in the UK have a prepayment meter. Let’s learn more about it!
The mechanism of a prepayment meter:
Prepayment meters are also known as gas key meters or electric key meters. The way they work is quite similar to how you recharge your mobile phone. Just as you have to top up your balance to be able to use your phone, similarly you have to pay upfront in order to use electricity and gas through a prepayment meter.
There are different ways you can top up your gas and electricity credit. Usually, you can do it through a key, a token, or a smartcard. You have to take these to a shop to get the top-ups. It’s easy to get these top-ups at Post offices or other respectable Payzone shops.
In the past, there used to be coin-operated prepayment meters where you could directly put money in the meter. They are not commonly used anymore though. Now, with technological advancements many energy suppliers enable you to get your gas and electricity top-ups through your mobile, on the app, and online. This is more convenient and free of hassle, as now you can get your meter topped up without leaving the comfort of your homes.
Advantages of a prepayment meter
Being able to pay for your gas and electricity bills in advance has some benefits. One of them is that you are completely in control. The amount of money you pay and how often you pay is completely up to you. By paying beforehand, you can easily manage your energy expenses as there are no unexpected or hefty bills.
Paying upfront also ensures that you don’t have to be in debt to your supplier. With that, you can get rid of a lot of associated stress and feeling of burden. However, in case you were in debt before, with prepayment meters, it becomes easier to pay the outstanding debt. The way you do this is by paying it back in a specific period of time is given quantities. These are the benefits of the prepayment plan which might make it seem like an attractive option to some users.
Disadvantages of a prepayment meter:
However, the meter is not without some disadvantages. One of its biggest downsides is that it counts as one of the most expensive plans out there. If your supplier does not provide you with the option of topping up online, you would have to visit your local shop or post agent which can be inconvenient for some. In case of any emergency, if you aren’t able to top up your energy meter, your power might get shut down. You would also have to pay outstanding credit before you are able to get electricity and gas again. This can prove to be quite inconvenient!
Similarly, if you leave the house without charging your meter, you might come back to a disaster! Why? Because your power supply could be cut off and that would lead to your appliances being switched off. This would prove to be especially inconvenient for your refrigerator as your food supply could go bad.
Also, prepayment meter users are not privy to the best deals on the markets because the prepayment plans are extremely limited. This means you could be paying more than you need to. As you could get your hands on a better deal with other meters. Also, sometimes with old meters, if the market price fluctuates, you would have to update your prices manually. This is a lengthy process that could take months. It leads to you paying more or not paying enough and in turn owning a lump sum. This can put you in a disadvantageous position.
Overall, the disadvantages are more than the advantages and prepayment meters are not advisable unless you absolutely have to get them.
Does your home already have a prepayment meter? Why?
Some houses already have a prepayment meter installed in them. That could be because the house has run into debt with their energy supply. Prepayment helps users pay off debt bit by bit in a manageable way while they are paying for electricity and gas. Some tenants also install prepayment meters in their homes in order to minimize the risk of their tenants going into debt.
If you are using one of the big six energy suppliers, then it’s possible to switch your prepayment meter into a credit meter if you meet all the requirements. However, as a tenant, you would have to first ask the homeowners if they approve of the switch.
How does the prepayment meter work?
It is pretty easy to take readings from a prepayment meter. You have to press a button on the meter that goes from showing you the remaining credit to the actual reading and from there on, you take the reading like you would with any normal meter.
What to do if your house already has a prepayment meter?
If your house already has a prepayment meter, the first thing to do is contact your energy company and notify them of your being a new account holder. That’s absolutely essential because lack of doing so could lead you to pay the wrong rates which would be considerably higher if the previous account holder was in debt.
The other thing to note is that almost every energy supplier will have at least one prepayment tariff available. Like other energy deals, prepayment plans also differ in cost. Some are cheaper than others. It’s important for you to compare all the plans available so you can choose the cheapest energy deal in the UK.
Luckily, Bill-switchers.com can help you through the process and all you need to do is fill a quick ten-second form. Our experts go through all the energy deals available to you both for a prepayment meter and others and advise you to choose the option that best satisfies your energy needs.