A guide to business electricity half hourly meters

Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager at Bionic
By Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager

Inaccurate or estimated meter readings can see you overpaying for energy, and these costs can quickly add up if your business uses a lot of electricity. That’s why most energy-intensive businesses install a half-hourly meter to make sure they’re correctly billed for the electricity they use. If your business electricity use goes over a certain amount, you have to have one fitted at your workplace.

There are a few different types of electric meters available to business users, the type you need will depend upon how much energy you use, along with how and when you use it. If your business uses a lot of electricity, here’s all you need to know about half-hourly electricity meters.

What is a half-hourly meter?

If your business consumes high levels of electricity, it’s likely you’ll have your usage closely monitored by a specialised half-hourly meter, which automatically submits readings to your supplier every 30 minutes.

This saves you the time and hassle of taking and supplying regular meter readings, and could also help cut your bills as you’ll be accurately charged for the power you use.

Using this type of meter means you can tailor your business electricity deal to fit the exact needs and budget of your business, meaning you compare fixed-rate half-hourly electricity tariffs to lock your rates in and avoid being hit by price hikes for the duration of your deal.

Accurate billing and a fixed rate deal will then give your business greater budget certainty and one less overhead to worry about.

What is the difference between half-hourly and non-half-hourly meters?

The main difference is that while standard business energy meters require you to make a note of your reading and send it to your supplier, usually once a month, half-hourly meters automatically give your supplier your latest reading at 30-minute intervals.

Even smart meters for business will only provide monthly meter readings unless you ask your supplier to adjust the settings.

What are the benefits of half-hourly meters?

Also known as HH meters, the regular automatic readings they provide make sure you’re billed as accurately as possible and are less likely to be charged incorrectly. And, as with smart meters for business, the detail provided by the meters means you can track the impact of any energy efficiency measures you’ve introduced in a bid to cut your consumption.

More accurate meter readings also make it easier for Bionic’s tech-enabled experts to find you a better business energy deal at renewal, as this archived energy usage data can be used when negotiating your next contract.

And, as with a smart meter, half-hourly meters mean you can monitor your energy usage more closely, which can really help when implementing energy-saving measures to help cut your costs and carbon footprint.

Does your business need a half-hourly meter?

If your business has a peak electricity demand of 100KVA or more every half hour, then having a half-hourly meter is mandatory and you’ve no option but to have one installed (if you haven’t already). 

If your peak electricity demand is no lower than 70KVA every half hour, then the installation is optional. Some businesses with usage at the lower level opt to have an HH meter because of its energy-monitoring benefits.

If you’re moving business premises, you can find out if there’s already a half-hourly meter installed by checking if there’s a “00” in the top corner next to the S (as shown below).

Numbers on an electricity meter to show that it's a half hourly meter

You’ll also need a Meter Operator (MOP) Agreement for the maintenance of your half-hourly meter – as well as a Data Collector (DC) to process your half-hourly readings.

What businesses have half-hourly meters?

Half-hourly meters are only available to businesses that have a peak electricity demand of at least 70KVA every half hour. This means these meters are most often used by the following types of businesses:

  • Department stores
  • Distribution centres
  • Factories
  • Manufacturing
  • Warehouses

How to read a half-hourly meter

Automated meter reading (AMR) is one of the key features of a half-hourly meter, which means you don’t actually need to know how to read it. If you want or need to read it manually for any reason, the way you take a reading will depend upon the type of meter you have. If you have a smart meter, this should come with a separate display that shows you all the information you need.

How much does half-hourly electricity cost?

Suppliers will sometimes drum up business with high-energy consumers by offering them lower unit rates - measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), the unit rate is the amount you’re charged for the electricity you use. 

When you sign up for a fixed-rate deal, the unit rate is fixed, but your bills will still vary, depending upon the amount of fuel you use. Other fixed half-hourly meter charges that will show on your bill include the standing charge - a daily amount charged to cover installation and maintenance of the electricity distribution network, and the distributor’s administration cost -  and VAT, which is charged at 20% for high energy consumption businesses. To find out how much energy a business like yours should be using, check out the Bionic guide to average energy consumption.

You’ll also have to pay availability charges for electricity, to cover investment and maintenance of the electricity network. This is charged per unit according to the agreed capacity for that site.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that while consumption volume and the type of tariff you’re on will have an impact on energy costs, rates will also vary according to the location of your business.

Is your energy meter affected by P272?

P272 is an Ofgem regulation that affects the way electricity suppliers settle electricity consumption for businesses within a specified energy use. It means that meters with 05-08 profiles are now settled half-hourly and have been reprofiled as half-hourly meters.

If the S number on your Meter Point Administration Number  (MPAN) is 05, 06, 07 or 08, then your meter profile will change to 00 and readings will be taken every half hour, as part of P272.

For more information, check out the Bionic guide to large business and industrial energy.

How will a half-hourly meter affect your business energy bills?

A half-hourly meter will make sure that your business is billed accurately for the energy it uses. But, as a high-consumption business, you might also benefit from cheaper rates when using a half-hourly meter. This is why it's important to compare suppliers and find a deal that suits the needs and budget of your business.

How to compare UK half-hourly electricity tariffs

If you’re on a half-hourly meter, you’ll still want to make sure you’re on the best possible deal to avoid overpaying for energy. The simplest way to compare deals to find the best half-hourly electricity quote for your business is to speak to the tech-enabled experts at Bionic.

It only takes a matter of minutes for us to find our best deals. And because we only compare deals from our panel of trusted suppliers, you can be sure you’ll also get quality service alongside great rates.

To run an energy price comparison, just pop your postcode in the box on the right, or give our tech-enabled expert team a call on 0800 077 4064.