In Belgium, every home connected to the electricity network has a meter. There are several types: single, dual, night-only, etc. But which should you choose? Based on what criteria? Follow the guide to find out!


Summary

  1. What is a meter and what is it used for?
  2. Three electricity meters, each with their own benefits
  3. Which meter for which consumer?
  4. How do I change my meter?
  5. Differences in the price per kWh depending on the meter
  6. Conclusion

When a house is connected to the electricity network, the consumer is faced with a difficult choice. Should they install:

  • A single-rate meter (also spelt single rate, known as a “single” meter);
  • Or a dual-rate meter (sometimes spelt dual rate, known as a “dual” meter);
  • Or a third possibility, adding a night-only meter exclusively for heating the home?

The question is relevant as the aim is clearly to choose the most advantageous system based on one’s consumption profile.

Once this issue is resolved, the consumer still needs to know whether it is possible to replace a meter in order, for example, to convert a dual-rate meter into a single-rate meter. But don’t panic, Energyprice.be is here to guide you in your choice and your possible next steps.

1. What is a meter and what is it used for?

An electricity meter measures the quantity of electricity consumed over a specific period of time. There is also a gas meter, which measures gas consumption.

The quantity of electricity is expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh), while gas consumption is expressed in cubic metres (m3). However, your gas supplier will bill you in kWh as they convert the cubic metres into kilowatt hours on your annual bill.

The meter is composed of one or two dials displaying figures. These figures form your readings, which determine your energy consumption at any time.

The single-rate meter has a single dial and therefore a single reading, while the dual-rate meter has two dials and therefore two readings.

1.1. The meter reading

Each year, your distribution network operator (DNO) will ask you to read your meters. These meter readings are then sent to your supplier who uses them to determine your annual energy consumption.

When you receive your adjustment bill (or annual breakdown), the supplier will then deduct the instalments paid during the previous year and correct your situation.

1.2. The meter number

Each meter has a number. This meter number is composed of the serial number and the identification number. The serial number is engraved on the meter equipment, while the last three digits comprise the identification number.

Each meter number is unique.  If your meter is faulty, it will be replaced by a new meter with a new number. If you have a faulty meter, you are advised to contact your distribution network operator (DNO).

>> Free tool: find and contact your DNO

1.3. The EAN code

By contrast,the EAN codes (which identify your supply points) are constant and do not change if your meter is replaced.

So a house which consumes electricity always has an electricity EAN code and an electricity meter number.

The EAN code (a series of 18 digits which always begin with “54”) is systematically displayed on the energy supplier’s bills. It also appears on the annual breakdown (also called the adjustment bill). If a house has a gas supply and an electricity supply, it will have two EAN codes and two meter numbers.

EAN code

So, if the DNO replaces a faulty meter, the consumer will still retain their EAN code(s). However, if the consumer moves house, their EAN code(s) and their meter number(s) will change.

1.4. The types of reading: YMR, MMR and AMR

In Belgium, there are three types of meter reading (applies to single-rate and dual-rate meters):

  • YMR (Yearly Meter Reading),
  • MMR (Monthly Meter Reading)
  • and AMR (Automatic Meter Reading).

In general, MMR and AMR meters are dedicated to business consumers with high consumption volumes.

> YMR, the annual reading

The YMR meter is a meter which is read manually, once a year, by the DNO or the consumer themselves. As the consumption is known after the event, the consumers pays instalments (in other words, provisions) until the adjustment bill is drawn up, which is based on the actual consumption. When the adjustment bill is received, the consumer will either pay a supplement to the supplier if their instalments were underestimated, or be reimbursed by the supplier (in the form of a credit note) if the instalments were overestimated.

> MMR, the monthly reading

The MMR meter is read every month, automatically or directly by the network operator. For this meter, the consumer does not receive an instalment bill or an annual adjustment bill, as they pay the exact the amount that they consume.

> AMR, the (almost) real-time reading

AMR meter

The AMR meter is a remote-reading meter (or quarter-hour meter). The reading is taken automatically every 15 minutes. As with the MMR meter, the consumer only pays for what they have consumed. So,  here too, there will be no instalment bill and no annual adjustment bill.

1.5. Open meter or closed meter

In addition, the gas or electricity meter can be open or closed. If you want to be supplied with gas or electricity, the meter must be open. If the consumer moves into a house where the meters are closed, they must arrange for their meters to be opened so that they can be supplied by the energy supplier of their choice. There is a charge for opening a meter, and the amount varies depending on the network operator.

Here are some examples of the cost of opening an electricity meter:

  • Sibelga (Brussels): €108.90  incl. VAT
  • ORES (Wallonia): €165.00  incl. VAT (the initial commissioning of a meter is free of charge).
  • RESA (Wallonia): free
  • Fluvius (Flanders): (no information)

> Opening the meter

There are three stages to opening a meter:

  1. First of all, you need to take out an energy contract with the supplier of your choice. To do this, it is essential to know your EAN code. To learn where to find this number, read this article.
  2. Two working days after taking out your contract you can ask your DNO to open your meter. The operator will check whether a contract has been taken out for your supply point. If necessary, you can arrange an appointment with the DNO for one of their employees to come to your home to open the meter.
  3. If your installation is new or refurbished, you must have a certificate of conformity for your electricity meter (or a certificate for your gas meter) issued by an approved body (or by your installer for your gas meter). On the day of the appointment, you or another adult will give access to your meter. The technician will check your certificate if necessary and open your meter. They will then check that the electricity or gas supply to your home is functioning properly.
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2. Three electricity meters, each with their own benefits

  • The single-rate meter (single rate) makes no distinction between peak hours (daytime) and off-peak hours (night-time and weekends). With this meter, you will be billed at a single rate for the electricity consumed, regardless of time or day of the week.
  • The dual-rate meter distinguishes between peak hours (daytime) and off-peak hours (night-time and weekends). Depending on when the electricity is consumed, the consumer will be billed at the day rate or at the night rate.
  • The night-only meter supplies electricity to appliances that only operate at night, such as storage heaters or water heaters. This meter is always accompanied by a single-rate or a dual-rate meter.

3. Which meter for which consumer?

3.1. Single-rate

With the single-rate meter, a single rate is applied, regardless of time or day of the week. It will therefore be beneficial to consumers who consume most of their electricity during the day, such as schools or offices. This type of meter is also suitable for people with a small house and therefore a low consumption. What about you?

Size of householdSingle-rate meterDual-rate meter
1 person600 kWh300 kWh day – 300 kWh night
2 people1,200 kWh500 kWh day – 700 kWh night
3 people3,500 kWh1,600 kWh day – 1,900 kWh night
4 people4,500 kWh1,900 kWh day – 2,600 kWh night
5 people7,500 kWh2,700 kWh day – 3,900 kWh night

The single rate (or normal rate) is also generally recommended for households fitted with photovoltaic panels.

3.2. Dual-rate

The dual-rate meter is a meter that distinguishes between two rates depending on the day and time of consumption: a day rate and a night rate. As the night rate is cheaper than the day rate, it is in the consumer’s interest to maximise the use of household appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, dryer, etc.) during off-peak hours (in other words, during the night and at weekends).

It should be noted that the peak and off-peak hours may vary from one region to another, and even from one postcode to another, depending on the DNO.

Depending on the circumstances, the off-peak hours may run from 9.00pm to 8.00am during the week and throughout the weekend.

To find out exactly what the situation is in your municipality, simply contact your DNO.

>> Online tool: find your distribution network operator

If you live in the Brussels region, you can visit the Sibelga website to find a list of the municipalities and the times of the peak hours and off-peak hours.

3.3. Night-only

The night-only meter is connected solely to heating installations and cannot be used during the day. It is therefore beneficial for people or households with storage heaters and/or water heaters.

However, this type of meter is very uncommon nowadays. In addition, the unit price per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the night-only meter has, since 2015, almost always been the same as the unit price per kilowatt hour for a dual-rate meter at off-peak times (night rate).

4. How do I change my meter?

4.1. Replacing your meter

If your meter is faulty, you must contact your network operator to request a replacement. In that case, their intervention and the replacement of the energy meter will be free of charge.

4.2. Switching from a single-rate meter to a dual-rate meter

According to gas and electricity network operator ORES, the cost of replacing a single-rate meter with a dual-rate meter is around €250.  However, this cost may vary depending on a number of parameters: repositioning the meter or upgrading the meter.

4.3. Switching from a dual-rate meter to a single-rate meter

If a consumer with a dual-rate meter wishes to switch to a single-rate meter, they simply need to submit a request to the distribution network operator and the change will be made remotely. The operation costs around €35.

5. Differences in the price per kWh depending on the meter

The benefit of the dual-rate meter is that it offers an “off-peak” rate that is more competitive than the “peak” rate. Regarding the single-rate price, this is always somewhere between the “off-peak” rate and the “peak” rate.

5.1 Comparison of three popular types of energy contract

Here are a few examples of unit prices in Flanders for the month of July 2020.

ENGIE – Easy Fixe

Price (€c)Ratio
Single-rate7.87/
Dual-rate – DAY9.36+18.9%
Dual-rate – NIGHT6.50-17.4%
Night-only6.50-17.4 %

Eneco – Soleil & Vent Fixe

Price (€c)Ratio
Single-rate7.89/
Dual-rate – DAY9.34+18.4%
Dual-rate – NIGHT6.68-15.3%
Night-only6.68-15.3 %

Lampiris – TOP (fixe)

Price (€c)Ratio
Single-rate6.70/
Dual-rate – DAY8.11+21.0%
Dual-rate – NIGHT5.48-18.2 %
Night-only5.53-17.5 %

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The values entered in this table are expressed in euro cents per kilowatt hour (€c/kWh). The ratio represents the price difference between the single-rate price and the dual-rate and night-only price.

It is clear that the rate for the night-only meter is, for most suppliers, the same as the night rate for the dual-rate meter. Not surprisingly, it is this dual-rate night rate that is the cheapest. Then comes the rate for the single-rate meter. This, however, is cheaper than the day rate (dual-rate meter).

5.2. Observation

The difference between the rates does not seem substantial, and yet:

  • The day rate for the dual-rate meter is up to 21% more expensive than the rate for the single-rate meter.
  • The night rate is up to 18 % cheaper than the rate for the single-rate meter.
  • The same observation can be made for the rate for the night-only meter.

Conclusion

As a rule, if you live alone and you do not consume much energy, you can simply have a single-rate meter. However, it is in your interest to switch to a dual-rate meter if you consume a lot of energy in the evening. Switching your meter may be rather expensive but, in the long term, the savings achieved will outweigh the cost.

To find out the consumption level at which it is worth switching from a single-rate meter to a dual-rate meter or vice versa, please call us on 0800 37 456. Our advisers are available Mondays to Fridays, 9.00am to 6.00pm.

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