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Around 4.3 million people in the UK have a prepayment meter installed in their home. In this guide, Love Energy Savings offer advice on how you can keep costs down if have a pre-paid meter in your home.

Like pay-as-you-go phone contracts, pre-paid energy meters feel like they should be a thing of the past. They’re often more costly than direct debit options and can be inconvenient. Pre-pay customers will also be restricted in their tariff options with only one prepayment tariff available from each supplier.

Despite this, millions of households still rely on prepayment meters for their energy. Although it may be cheaper to switch to a standard meter, this is not always a viable option for everyone, particularly tenants.

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

Check your meter regularly

This seems like an obvious one, but if you know how much your prepayment meter is costing you, you will be more aware of how you’re using it and how to reduce your costs.

One way is to check your meter regularly 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 – where you will see it, you will 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.

Top up by the same amount each week

One of the most difficult things about having a prepayment 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 will spend each week in advance.

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

Keep the cold out

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

You can keep the cold out by introducing simple insulation improvements, this might include using draft excluders or lining your curtains.

The better you are at protecting your home from the cold, the more energy efficient you will be and the less you will need to spend on heating up your home.

Become more energy efficient

Heating is a major part of most home’s energy bills, particularly in winter. But there are many ways you can reduce your energy usage beyond minimising your heating expenses.

Love Energy Savings have compiled a list of energy savings measures you can introduce in your home. Common tips include switching to LED lighting and ensuring you unplug appliances (like televisions and mobile phone and tablet chargers) when not in use.

Turn down radiators in rooms when not in 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! The heat you lose this way can sap from the rest of the house, and frozen pipes can be a costly problem for homeowners.

Switch to a standard 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, can be paid in monthly instalments that you can set to come out as soon as you’re paid and allow you to access the cheapest tariffs that are available.

Switch energy supplier

It’s important to be aware that even with a prepayment meter, you are allowed to switch domestic energy supplier.

Love Energy Savings have friendly energy experts who can help you find the cheapest tariffs available for prepayment meters.

What if I can’t top up my prepayment meter?

If you are having any issues topping up your prepayment meter, for example, if you are sick and can’t visit a shop to top it up or are not able to access your prepayment meter for whatever reason, you should contact your energy supplier as soon as possible.

One option is that they might offer to replace your prepayment meter with a regular meter, which should be done for free.

If they try to charge you consider switching energy supplier. Remember that even on a prepayment meter you have the right to switch energy supplier if you pay the bills in your name.

The only exception would be if you are a tenant as you would likely be required to inform your landlord of your intention to switch.

If you’re moving from a pre-paid to a standard meter, why not see if Love Energy Savings could help you save as much as £300 a year by comparing home energy prices with us.