Gas meters aren't hard to read if you know how.
Your gas meter is your window into your energy habits, but too few of us know how to use our gas meters properly, and how to make sure we have accurate energy bills.
Most energy suppliers will estimate your energy usage if they can, but it you take an accurate reading on a gas meter you are more likely to pay for the energy you actually used, rather than the nearest guess.
We explain how to read your meter, and what to look out for.
Why do I need to read my gas meter?
It's important to make accurate measurements of your gas consumption so you don't pay more than you need to. Your supplier will often use estimates of what they think you've used unless you prove otherwise.
Knowing how much you actually use, rather than the estimate your supplier uses for each bill, will also help you decide whether you can get a better rate by switching.
Estimates from your supplier
Unless you have a prepayment meter, your supplier will estimate how much gas you are consuming and use this figure in your monthly or quarterly bill. This will either be based on past use or, if you have recently moved, typical or average figures.
Sometimes estimates are short of your actual usage meaning you initially pay less that you owe, but this shortfall is always made up further down the line and can result in huge lump sum bills when you come to close your account.
Too much or too little?
You'll need to check that you aren't paying more or less than you should for your gas. Your supplier's estimate won't take into account any effort you've made to save energy and which your own meter reading could demonstrate.
On the other hand, changes in routine could mean you're using more gas than you normally do. You could be stung the next time the supplier comes to take a meter reading.
Both situations are avoided if you phone to give a correct meter reading each time you receive a bill that uses estimated meter readings.
Types of meters
There are four main types of meters: standard meters, dial meters, digital meters and prepayment meters. They differ in how they display the information and what readings they give you.
Standard, digital and dial are three ways to show you a basic meter reading. You'll need a different sort of meter for prepayment gas meters.
Reading a standard meter
This is the most common type of meter and uses a mechanical display to show your readings. You'll need to take a reading of five black numbers from left to right - ignoring any red numbers (if present).
Reading your dial meter
Dial meters - which look like small traditional clocks - are slightly more complex. When reading your dial meter, always remember that dials next to each other go round in opposite directions.
Recording your dial meter reading
Read the numbers on the dials from left to right, ignoring the last red dial (if it is present), or any dials without figures or hands. If the needle is between two figures, write down the figure the dial has just passed.
The reading now needs adjusting to make allowances for any small variations in the pointer positions. If the figure is directly over the figure, say 5, write down that figure and underline it.
Look at the figure underlined. If one of those numbers in the sequence is followed by a 9, reduce the underlined figure by 1 (so the underlined '5' becomes '4').
Reading your digital meter
Use the first five figures on the digital display, and ignore any last figure that begins 0.1. You may need to press a button to get the figure to display.
There are several types of prepayment meters including standard or electronic display and digital meters. Based on any calculations you make about the amount you are paying, you can change energy suppliers, but this service is not available with uSwitch at the present time. Prepayment customers will be able to use uSwitch.com in the near future.
What to do with your meter reading
Once you have your reading check your last bill and see what the estimated reading was. If it looks like you have been overpaying, you are entitled to a refund from your gas company.
If you have been underpaying contact your supplier to increase your Direct Debit payments or pay it off in one go if it is a small amount. Once you've paid off what you owe, you can search for a cheaper supplier.
You will also need to submit a meter reading to your old supplier if you are closing your account and switching to another supplier. You will also need to submit your meter readings to your new supplier to make sure your new bills are accurate.
Speaking with your supplier
The suppliers often have a dedicated phoneline you can use to provide your own meter readings. This number should appear clearly on your bill. Some companies will automatically send you a fresh bill based on your reading, others may ask whether you want a fresh bill.
Think the meter reading is wrong?
If your meter reading seems wrong, you might want to send your supplier an altered reading, or contact your supplier to let them know there could be something wrong with your meter. They will most likely send someone out to look at your meter.
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Read the Transcript
How to Take a Meter Reading
It’s important to regularly take gas and electricity meter readings and send them to your supplier. If you don’t do this you’ll end up with an estimated bill that could mean you end up paying more than you have to, or it could actually mean you end up paying less than you should, which sounds like a great thing but actually it means you’ll end up in debt to your supplier and somewhere down the line you’ll get a big bill.
There are four main types of gas and electricity meter. Standard meters, dial meters, digital meters and Economy 7 meters. They all differ slightly but the basic techniques for reading a meter are still the same.
Finding Your Meters
Your first challenge is to find your meters if you don’t already know where they are. They could be tucked away in a cupboard, or if you live in a flat they could be in a communal area. Once you’ve found your meters, you need to work out which one’s for gas and which one’s for electricity. They might be labelled, but if not you can work it out. The gas one will take measurements in cubic meters or cubic feet, and the electricity one will be measured in kilowatt hours.
Taking the Reading on Standard and Digital Meters
You’ll need to take a reading of the five black numbers going from left to right. Ignore any numbers in red, or on digital meters any number that starts with 0.1.
Taking a Reading on a Dial Meter
Dial meters are a little bit different. To get your reading, you need to look at each of the dials and pick the number that the needle is pointing to. If the needle is pointing between two numbers always round down rather than up. If the needle is pointing exactly to a number, when you write it down underline it.
Now you need to adjust your meter reading to make it as accurate as possible. Look at the underlined numbers, if they’re followed by a 9 you need to reduce them by 1. So for example, if your meter reading was 51059 the 1 would stay the same because it’s followed by a 0 but the 5 would be reduced to 4 because it’s followed by a 9, therefor your final meter reading would be 51049.
How to Take a Reading on an Economy 7 Meter
Economy 7 meters are a little bit different too. You need to take two readings. If you have two sets of dials, marked low and normal, you need to take two readings separately. If you only have one set of dials, marked day rate, take down the reading and then press the red button to get the night rate and then take another reading. Now you’ve got your meter reading, send it off to your supplier so you get really accurate bills.