If you have a dynamically teleswitched energy meter
If you have a dynamically teleswitched (DTS) energy meter, you may not be getting the best deal for your electricity. DTS meters work on a special tariff (known as a DTS tariff) that only a few energy companies provide, meaning it’s harder to switch providers.
DTS meters are not very common. You’re only likely to have one if:
- you live in the East Midlands or Scotland
- your house is heated using electricity
- you have electric storage heaters
- you get cheaper energy at different times of day
If you're not sure if you have a DTS meter, ask your energy provider.
How dynamically teleswitched meters work
DTS meters usually work specifically with electric storage heating systems. They allow your energy provider to provide you with cheaper rates of electricity at certain times. This could be at night when energy is generally cheaper, or it could be when there’s a particularly low demand from other customers.
The flexibility of DTS meters means you should get cheaper energy bills. However, many energy providers don’t use DTS meters flexibly (ie regularly changing the times you get cheap energy), and instead have set times each day when their customers’ receive cheaper energy. This doesn’t automatically mean you’ll pay more for your energy, but it might.
You should check to see if your meter is being used flexibly by your provider. You’ll be able to see this on your energy bill - the time you get cheaper energy should change regularly (or at least a couple of times a month). If it’s not, you may be paying more than you should for your energy.
Your provider should also be able to explain to you how your meter works and whether it’s being used dynamically.
Changing tariff or provider
If you’re unhappy with your current tariff, you should:
- ask your provider if they have a cheaper tariff you can move to
- speak to other providers to see if they can offer a tariff that's compatible with your DTS meter
The tariffs they offer may be:
- specific DTS tariffs
- other ‘DTS-compatible’ tariffs, for example 'Economy 7'
Many of these tariffs will be hard to find advertised online, so it’s best to call them.
Before you commit, make sure that these tariffs offer you a better deal than you’re currently getting. If the tariff is not a specific DTS tariff, it’s less likely that it will be cheaper than the tariff you're already on.
Check if you’ll get a better deal
Use this method to see if you’ll save money by changing your tariff or provider.
- Ask your current energy provider to give you a written estimate of the cost of your usage over the next 12 months - you can also find this in your energy bill.
- Ask the supplier offering the new tariff (this could be your current provider or a new provider) to provide a written 12 month projection of how much your energy would cost if you switched. They will look at your personal projection from the past 12 months to produce this estimate.
- Compare the two projections to see if you would save money by changing tariff or provider.
Getting rid of your DTS meter
If you’ve explored other options like switching tariffs or providers, you may decide that you want to get rid of your DTS energy meter altogether.
You should do your research before doing this, as it could potentially be expensive. You can use the same method for checking if you’ll get a better deal as above, but make sure you add the cost of any extra work you may have to pay for, eg installing a new meter.
Get a new ‘time of use’ meter
You could install a new ‘time of use’ meter that works in a similar way to your current DTS meter and would work with your electric storage heating system. This meter would be compatible with more tariffs, giving you more choice about which provider you choose.
This option may not save you any money on your bills, and could end up being more expensive because of the cost of fitting the new meter. You should speak to more than one supplier to find out how much it would cost.
Change to gas or oil
You could change your meter and connect to the gas mains, but only if it’s available in your area. Contact National Grid to find out.
If gas isn’t available in your area, you could change to an oil heating system instead. Most suppliers could offer you this as the oil would be delivered by lorry, not through a pipe like gas.
Both of these options won’t be cheap initially, as you’ll need to have a new meter and heating system installed. If you choose oil you’ll probably have to pay for an oil storage tank to be installed on your property. However, they could save you money in the long run.
Speak to more than one supplier to see how much it would cost.
If you're having problems switching tariffs or providers, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline.