Moving into a new home and need to choose the type of electricity meter you wish to have? Or do you want to replace the existing one? Well, here’s an explanation on how each one works!

Standard, dual day-night, exclusive night or pre-paid: the consumer can decide which to install when hitching up to the grid from the house. Similarly, if when moving the one installed is not suitable. No special reason is needed because everyone is free to change their energy meter when they wish, as long as you pay the costs required by your distribution system operator (DSO).

In any case, before opting for another model, you need to know what type of device to apply for. Because it’s not just a question of pot luck: you must take into account the characteristics of each meter because it will influence how you consume and will determine the kWh price billed.

What is an electric meter?

An electric meter is a tool that allows you to measure the energy consumption of your household or dwelling.

The information displayed by the electric meter is important because your electricity supplier will need it to draw up your energy bill. However, it is the role of distribution system operator (find your DSO) to ensure the meter reading and its maintenance. It then sends information about your energy to your electricity provider so that it may prepare your bill. Don’t worry, you are not charged for this reading as it is included in your bill.

The unit of measurement of the electric meter is kilowatt hours (kWh), which corresponds to the energy consumed by a device with a power of 1,000 watts during one hour.

The standard meter: a single price

You have a standard meter if it has just the one index on the meter. In that case, the kWh price remains the same day and night. This is called standard or single rate.

From a financial point of view, is the standard meter more advantageous than a dual meter? It all depends on your consumption patterns. The standard rate is more attractive than the dual day rate but higher than the night rate. In addition, the standard meter is generally advised for people with solar panels producing enough to cover their consumption. Indeed, it will cost them less in fixed charges than a dual meter.

The dual meter: ideal for night use

The dual meter has two indices: a day index (corresponding to peak hours) and a night index (corresponding to off-peak hours). Off-peak consumption is cheaper than at peak times.

The peak/off-peak periods are determined by your system operator. But during the week, the former always span 15 hours compared to the 9 of the latter. As a general rule, consumption from Monday to Friday from 7 am to 10 pm will be charged to the day part while consumption from 10 pm to 7 am on weekdays and the total consumption at the weekend will be attributed to the night part.

Clock

The dual meter can distinguish between peak and off-peak times.

This means that the day/night system is beneficial to people mainly consuming electricity during the night and at weekends. To do so, you must use your domestic appliances such as the washing machine, dishwasher and boiler during those times. Provided of course that the power of the electric meter is sufficient to allow the simultaneous use of multiple devices.

Generally, it is accepted that changing to a dual meter is advantageous when consumption during off-peak hours is greater than half of total consumption. If this is not the case, it is probably more appropriate to keep a standard meter.

The night rate only meter: reserved for heating

The night rate only meter  only works at night time to heat water and or for electrical storage heating. If it is possible to use the energy accumulated during the day, you must wait until night for the device to get back up and running. In other words, it is better not to run out of hot water in the morning!

As for the dual meter, you must contact your DSO to find out the night-time billing periods. Unlike the dual meter, weekends are not considered off-peak periods.

From a more technical point of view, you should be aware that the night only meter is never installed alone and must be coupled to a standard or a dual meter. In addition, the price per kWh is generally identical to the dual night rate. The advantage is actually with the level of distribution rates. Being lower, they make this meter a slightly better alternative than the off-peak hour dual system. However, due to the lower savings made compared to previously, the night only is on the way out, nowadays.

The pre-paid meter: pre-paid energy

Pre-paid meter with recharge card

Photograph: ORES

The pre-paid meter, which is not available in Brussels, has the same purpose as the classic meter: to measure electricity or gas consumption. On the other hand, it also has a pre-payment facility that allows the user not to consume more energy than the amount charged on a chip card that is inserted into the meter reader. When the balance is depleted, it must be topped up, otherwise the customer will not receive any power after using the emergency credit made available! Note that protected customers, i.e., those who benefit from the social tariff, will receive a minimum power supply of 10 amps for three months if they do not top up their card.

Advisable for and sometimes imposed on customers not up to date with their payments, the pre-paid meter enables better control of their budget since consumption is paid in advance and allows choice of supplier. Another advantage: there is no change regarding the use of household appliances or the available power.

Similarly for the kWh price: it continues to be the same as set out in the customer’s supply contract. With the exception of protected customers who will be supplied at the social tariffs in force. Finally, it should be noted that a pre-paid meter can be set in dual mode.

The price of an electric meter

Index of an energy meter with euro banknotesChoosing a meter and having one installed for the first time is, unfortunately, not free of charge. Just like having your electric meter replaced and/or gas meter replaced. Therefore, before requesting the day/night rate, for example, it is essential to consult your DSO as to the cost of the installation of a dual meter.

For your information, for the delivery, installation and opening of a new meter of less than 25 kVa, Sibelga charges 70.18 euros including VAT. To replace a standard meter costs between 250 and 400 euros. The Brussels DSO charges 361 euros including VAT. For a pre-paid meter, ORES announces a maximum cost of 500 euros. But, please note that these prices are only applicable if it is the customer who requests such change. If the request for the installation of a pre-paid meter were made by the supplier,  for example, the customer must then pay 100 euros. Even better, there is no charge if the customer is protected.

And the rest of the time? When the meter is deemed obsolete, the DSO is legally bound to replace it free of charge! Similarly, the customer will pay nothing to exchange a defective unit.

Now you know what type of meter, take advantage to compare the prices set by your energy supplier and to directly switch supplier using our energy comparison website or by calling 0800 37 456.

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