What Are Prepayment Meters?
A prepayment or prepaid meter means you need to pay for the energy you intend to use before you consume it. Prepaid meters work on an available credit basis, so "you" the consumer pay your energy provider lets say £20 upfront, you then enter an agreement with them to use that £20 at your discretion over any period of time. However as the consumer you must be mindful of other charges the meter is subject too.
What Is A Standing Charge?
A standing charge or service charge is a way for the Landlord to recuperate ongoing electrical maintenance cost of communal areas.
Over the course of its average 20 year operating life, a meter will need to be serviced every year. Energy providers will include a Standing charge within the meter to cover some of the cost for these annual servicing's. You will see a caveat on your energy bill stating ( " S/C " ) this will normal be about 20p and will be deducted from the available credit everyday or included within your monthly energy bill. Even if you top up £20 for example that "20p" will be subtracted from the credit everyday until that credit runs out.
Be mindful of the standing charge on your meter as it quickly runs down your available credit and increase topup frequency. Standing charges are calculated when your energy provider issues a new tariff onto your meter, make sure you are checking this section of your quote as it can be vital in your over all annual cost.
Where Can I TopUp?
You can top up a prepayment meter by taking the key or card to a Post Office or any local shop which displays the PayZone or PayPoint logo.
Find the location of your nearest top-up point:
If you have a smart prepayment meter, you may be able to top up online or through an app.
How Do I Get Emergency Credit?
Emergency credit allows you time to top up your key or card. It is either activated automatically or you must manually activate it when you run out of credit.
The amount of emergency credit differs between suppliers but usually lasts for at least a day, giving you time to recharge your key.
Its good to note that emergency credit is given in a lending capacity so although you get emergency credit say £5 for example to use, when you next top up this has to be repaid to the meter. So if you have used £5 credit and you top up £20 at the shop, when you load the credit on your meter you will get £15 available credit and £5 emergency credit.
Click here to read about how energy tariffs work