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Pre-paid meters are an issue that millions of people in the UK have to deal with, rather than get their energy on a contract. We look at how you can keep costs down if you have a pre-paid meter.

Like pay-as-you-go phone contracts, pre-paid energy meters feel like they should be a thing of the past: they’re costly, inconvenient, and customers only have one tariff available to them.

And yet, they still linger. Over four million UK households are still stuck with a pre-paid meter, and though we’d always advise switching to a standard contract instead, we understand that switching can take time.

So in the meantime, we came up with a few easy ways you can keep your pre-paid energy costs to a minimum.

1. Check your meter regularly

This seems like an obvious one, but if you know how much it’s costing you, you’ll be more aware of how you’re using it.

One way to ensure you do check your meter regularly is to do it at the same time of day, every day.

When you check, make note of how much credit you’re in. If you leave this list somewhere visible -- on the fridge, for example -- you’ll keep your energy costs at the front of your mind throughout the day. This helps you make more conscious decisions about using energy, and when you use energy-hungry appliances like dryers and heaters.

2. Top up by the same amount each week

One of the most difficult things about having a pre-paid meter is factoring energy costs into your budget.

But by topping up by the same amount on a regular basis, you can forecast how much you’ll spend each week in advance.

Topping up regularly also helps you to avoid those situations where you run out and have to make a mad dash to get a top-up late at night. You’ll also know how much you have available to you, so if you need to crank the heating up on a cold evening, you can.  

3. Keep the cold out

Keeping heat inside your house is just as important -- if not more so -- than pumping heat in.

A few ways you can keep the cold out include using draft excluders and lining your curtains. We go into a little more detail about that here.

The better you are at protecting your home from the cold, the less you’ll need to spend on heating it back up again.

4. Turn down radiators in rooms you don’t often use

There’s little point in heating up a spare bedroom if no one is sleeping in it. Turning down radiators in rooms that aren’t often used means that you can drive the same amount of heat to rooms you spend a lot of time in, like the living room or the master bedroom.

Don’t turn radiators all the way off, though. The heat you lose this way can sap from the rest of the house, and frozen pipes can be a costly problem for homeowners.

5. Switch to a regular meter

Even though there are little ways that you can save when using a pre-paid energy meter, there really is no substitute for having a regular meter instead. Regular meters allow you to pay after you use energy rather than before, and can be paid in monthly installments that you can set to come out as soon as you’re paid.

If you’re moving from a pre-paid to a paid meter, why not ee if  Love Energy Savings could help you save up to £300 a year on your energy bills. Click here to find out more.