We recently received a question about whether it is possible to change to a standard meter from a prepayment meter, so we thought we would write a helpful article for anybody who is considering this. This article applies to both gas and electricity prepayment meters.
Changing to a standard meter from a prepayment meter
It is possible to change to a standard meter if you are currently using a prepayment meter – most of the time. The first thing you should do, is contact your energy supplier on the phone to confirm whether this is possible, and what – if any – conditions they have for you to change. For example, most energy suppliers require that you can pay for your energy by Direct Debit. Some suppliers also require you to not be in debt on your prepayment account, although this requirement is easy to meet (all you have to do is simply pay off the debt on your account).
If you are told that you cannot change to a standard meter from a prepayment meter, you have a few options. First of all, you should consider switching to a new energy supplier who is more flexible to your needs. You can find out more about switching suppliers in our guide ‘how to switch your energy supplier‘. If for some reason you are unable to switch suppliers, or you want to stay with your current energy supplier regardless of their inflexibility regarding standard meters, you can switch to a different tariff and this is usually penalty free, so there will be no exit fee.
Ofgem’s ruling on changing to a standard meter if in debt
In 2012, Ofgem passed new measures to make it easier for prepayment meter customers in debt to switch supplier. Under the new measures, which can be found here, consumers can switch from one energy supplier on a prepayment tariff to a new energy supplier on a standard tariff if their debt is up to £500. This has enabled more prepayment customers to switch to a standard tariff.
What happens when I change to a standard meter from a prepayment meter?
If your supplier says yes to you changing to a standard meter, one thing to bear in mind is that the process isn’t instant. That’s not to say you will be without energy (your prepayment meter will still run), however the paperwork involved on your supplier’s side will be significant, so the process from start to finish will take a week or maybe two. There will be no change to the physical delivery of your energy supply, so there will be no downtime to that end and the switch should be trouble-free.