8 types of energy meters for businesses

A lady looking at her smart meter

If you run your own company or you’re thinking about starting a business, there are many things that you need to consider to help keep the costs down.

To run your operations as normal, you’ll of course need gas and electricity, but if you’d like to cut down your commercial utility bills, it pays to know about the different types of energy meters available to businesses (small or large) and have the right one installed so that you’re not paying over the odds for your energy.

In our guide below, we explain the 8 different types of business meters to help you understand which type would be best suited to you and your firm.

What is a commercial energy meter?

Just like domestic (home) energy meters, a business energy meter measures the amount of gas and electricity that’s being used by your business. 

Generally, your energy supplier will receive automatic energy readings from your meter, which helps to make sure that your utility bills are accurate and are not simply calculated based on estimates. This way, your business only ends up paying for the energy it actually uses.

Depending on your energy supplier and the type of meter you have, you may actually have to take meter readings yourself and send them to your provider regularly, but you should be informed about this when you first take out an energy contact.

You might like: How is business energy different from domestic energy?

Types of energy meters available for UK businesses

There are many different types of energy meters that are suited to various businesses, so the right one for your company will depend on the type of business it is and the number of hours you spend carrying out your day-to-day business operations.

Here are 8 of the most common meters used by businesses across the UK:

1. Single rate meter

For businesses open Monday-Friday, between the hours of 8am and 10pm.

Single-rate meters are typically the most common type that businesses have. With this type of meter, the company will be charged a single, flat rate for the energy it uses, which will stay the same no matter what day or time of the day it is.

Generally, single rate energy meters are standard meters. If you want to know whether your business has a standard meter, your energy bill will include a supply number that starts with the number ‘03’.

For larger businesses that use a lot of energy, they may have a Maximum Demand 1-rate meter, which is another type of single rate meter (or it can offer two rates if needed).

2. Two rate meter

For businesses that use a lot of energy predominantly during the evenings and weekends, such as restaurants.

If your business has a two-rate meter, this means that you’ll be charged two different rates, depending on the time that energy is used. So any energy used during peak times will be charged at a higher rate, while if you’re using energy during off-peak hours, the rate will be cheaper.

You may wish to have separate meters for the evenings and weekends, where energy during evenings is charged at a cheaper rate and energy used during the day on weekends comes at a more expensive rate. The rates and timings will vary depending on your provider.

Examples of two-rate meters include:

  • Economy 7 meter: This comes with cheaper rates during a 7-hour window
  • Economy 10 meter: This comes with cheaper rates during a 10-hour window

3. Three rate meter

For businesses that are busy during all hours, especially those open until late like pubs, bars and nightclubs.

A three-rate meter comes with three different rates depending on the different times that energy is being used by the business and it can also be called an evening, weekend and night meter.

The three rates include:

  • Day rate: Most expensive
  • Combined evening and weekend rate: Lower cost
  • Night rate: Cheapest

4. Three phase meters

For businesses that use a lot of energy (e.g. by using high-power machinery) with a three-phase supply - NOT the same as a three-rate meter.

The type of equipment used by your business will determine whether you have a single or three-phase supply of energy.

Three phase meters are usually used by companies that use heavy duty machinery and equipment which uses a lot of power (around 1000 watts continuously when switched on and in operation).

This three-phase system helps to reduce power loss, transmit energy more efficiently and it improves the safety of staff due to the continuous electrical load.

Generally, three phase meters don’t automatically send the usage data to your energy provider, so you will need to take meter readings yourself from the screen display if there is one.

5. Half-hourly meters

For larger businesses using 70kW/100kW or more electricity per 30 minutes, such as large offices, factories and warehouses - this is a legal requirement.

If the supply number on your company’s energy bill starts with the ‘00’ then you are on a half-hourly meter, where energy usage readings are taken every 30 minutes and automatically sent to your provider, meaning that you’ll be charged accurately for your energy usage.

For bigger businesses that use 100kW or more electricity every half an hour, they are legally obligated to have a half-hourly (HH) energy meter. 

If your business uses 70kW or more per 30 minutes, it is optional and not a legal requirement.

AMR devices

An Automated Meter Reading (AMR) device is also able to measure your gas and electricity usage and submit energy readings to your supplier every 30 minutes.

These devices are usually used by larger businesses that do not use enough energy to warrant having a half-hourly (HH) meter.

To have this in your company, you’ll need to find an AMR provider and pay them.

6. Smart meters

For all businesses and homes in the UK - your provider must offer you a smart meter by 2025. NOT available for businesses with a Half-Hourly (HH) meter.

Similar to a HH meter, a smart meter sends regular readings to your supplier, generally on a monthly basis, but there are options available to have more frequent readings sent over to them. This means that you don’t need to submit meter readings yourself.

If you have a smart meter, you should also have a digital display screen that tells you how much energy is being consumed in real time, so by monitoring this regularly, you should be able to identify when and where you could save energy and reduce your bills.

7. Multi-site meters

For businesses that use energy across more than one site.

A multi-site energy meter will help you monitor your company’s energy usage for every site and these types of deals let you combine all of your tariffs together with one supplier, helping you manage your utility bills better and also helping you save money.

8. Seasonal time-of-day meters

For seasonal businesses that experience peaks and troughs throughout the year.

This can be the most complicated type of meter available, as it comes with many different rates - as many as between 4 and 56 available.

There will be different rates for certain times of the day and various times of the year, so these types of bills can seem complex.

If you’re not sure which type of meter you need or which supplier to choose, we highly recommend using a business energy broker to save the hassle and stress of trying to find a deal yourself. This way, you know you’ll be offered the best deal suited to you and your business.

The difference between MPAN and MPRN

These two acronyms are unique reference numbers placed on your energy meter by your provider.

  • MPAN (Meter Point Administration Number) - The number for your ELECTRICITY meter
  • MPRN (Meter Point Reference Number) - The number for your GAS meter

These unique reference numbers can be found on your utility bills and you might need them if you want to switch energy providers to save money on your bills.

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