It is recommended that you specify a character set early so that your Joomla page loads faster so why not do it before the page is even served up!  You can do this by setting a default character type in a .htaccess file?

I tried a number of different lines of code before I found one (here) that worked on my host's server.  It is:

AddDefaultCharset UTF-8

This is especially important to add to your .htaccess file if you have removed the <meta http equiv> tag as described here.