How Do Half Hourly Meters Work?

Half hourly meters can potentially help your business save money while gaining a better idea of your electricity usage. But they might not be suitable for every business. Find out more about what they are, how they work, and how to check if you already have one.

Connor Campbell Published on 18 March 2022.
How Do Half Hourly Meters Work?

There is a good chance that, as a business owner, you have looked into a smart meter for both your electricity and gas. It can potentially help save you time and money, by automatically providing accurate readings to your supplier.

However, if your business uses a lot of electricity, it might be worth considering either getting a half hourly meter installed, or switching to a half hourly reading on your smart meter.

Below we look at the differences between half hourly and non-half hourly meters, how to check if you already have one, and their benefits and disadvantages.

Difference between half hourly and non-half hourly meters

The main difference between a half hourly meter and a non-half hourly meter is quite simple:

  • half hourly meters automatically send meter readings to your supplier every 30 minutes
  • non-half hourly meters either require you to submit manual readings at the intervals required by your supplier, or, if they are smart meters, automatically submit readings once a day or month, depending on your settings

Do I need a half hourly meter?

If your business’s maximum electricity demand in any 30-minute period is more than 100 kilowatt (kW), you are legally required to have a half-hourly meter.

However, if your business’s maximum demand is between 70kW and 100kW during any 30-minute period, it is your choice whether or not you opt for a half hourly meter.

Pros and cons of half hourly meters

By using half hourly metering, your business energy supplier will get a better picture of your electricity usage. This not only means that your bills should be even more accurate, potentially saving you money, but that you could also secure a tailored contract based on your specific electricity demands.

You can even gain a stronger idea of your own usage trends and, through that, implement energy-saving measures at your business.

However, half hourly meters also come with a number of extra charges that can push up the cost of your metering. These can include:

  • Meter Operator (MOP) charges – this is the cost of your Meter Operator fitting, maintaining and operating your meter
  • Data Collector (DC) and Data Aggregator (DA) charges – this is the cost for the collection and distribution of your consumption data
  • kilo-Volt-amperes (kVa) charges – also known as the capacity charge or availability charge, this is indirectly paid to your local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for your available power capacity, based on your Maximum Import Capacity (MIC)

This is why it is important to fully evaluate your electricity needs, and how much half hourly metering will cost you, before making the switch. They are often better suited to larger businesses than small-to-medium enterprises.

» MORE: Business tariffs, rates and prices explained

What is a half hourly Meter Operator (MOP)?

If you have a half hourly meter, you are legally required to have a Meter Operator (MOP) contract. This is the price you pay for the installation, management and maintenance of your meter.

You can either sign an agreement directly with the Meter Operator, or your supplier can appoint one for you as part of your electricity contract. However, it can work out as more expensive to allow your supplier to appoint your MOP.

On top of the Meter Operator, you also must have an accredited Data Collector (DC) and Data Aggregator (DA) to collect and distribute your consumption data. They are usually the same company, and can be appointed by you directly, or by your supplier as part of your electricity contract. Again, leaving it up to your supplier can be the more expensive option.

You can get your Meter Operator and Data Collector/Aggregator services separately, or consolidate them via one provider.

How do I check if I have a half hourly meter?

It’s very easy to find out whether you already have a half hourly meter installed at your business premises. All you need to do is check your MPAN.

Your MPAN, or Meter Point Administration Number, helps your energy provider identify your exact electricity supply. It can be found on the top left or bottom right corner of your electricity bill.

To use your MPAN to find out whether you have a half hourly meter, you need to look at the first double-digit number after the S. If it is ‘00’, then you have a half hourly meter.

How to switch to a half hourly meter

If you want to switch from a non-half hourly meter to a half hourly meter, you will need to go through a change of measurement class (CoMC). This could involve reprogramming your existing meter or replacing it with a new one.

While the steps will vary from supplier to supplier, the process will likely involve a combination of the following:

  • informing your local Distribution Network Operator you intend to switch, and then arranging your Maximum Import Capacity
  • securing your Meter Operator services, either directly or through your supplier, ahead of time
  • filling out your supplier’s CoMC form
  • arranging an in-person appointment for the installation/reprogramming

If you already have a half hourly meter, and you would like to switch your business energy supplier, then you can use our comparison tool to find the right deal for your needs.

» COMPARE: Business energy with NerdWallet

Image source: Getty Images

About the author:

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more

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