If you're on a standard meter and don't send meter readings to your supplier, you'll most likely end up with an estimated bill, which could mean you end up over-paying or under-paying.
Under-paying might sound like a good thing, but unfortunately at some point your energy supplier will want their money, leaving you with an unexpected bill to pay.
It's important to be able to read your electricity meter and gas meter to make sure your bills are accurate. Don't worry if your meter looks a little confusing – we've put together a video about how to read your energy meter, no matter which type you have.
Once you know how to take a meter reading, it's easy to submit the reading to your supplier. Many providers offer a meter reading upload feature on their app or when you log in to your online account, so there's usually no need to call.
There are a number of different types of energy meters out there. These range from modern smart meters, which tell you how much energy you’re using in real-time, to prepayment meters, which you need to top up manually.
Gas meters, as their name suggests, provide gas readings relevant to the home they are connected to. They tell you and your energy supplier how much gas your home is using. If you don’t have a smart meter, you should ensure that you read your gas meter and send regular readings to your supplier to make sure that your energy bills are accurate. If you don’t your supplier will estimate your bills and you may end up paying too much, or too little. This will catch up to you when your supplier takes a gas meter reading and you may end up with a huge heating bill to pay!
It’s worth noting that if you only pay for electricity - i.e. your home does not use gas - then you won’t have a gas meter. Remember that you won’t need to know how to read a gas meter if you have a smart meter, as readings are sent automatically to your supplier.
Want to know how much electricity you’re using? Your electricity meter is your first port of call. In much the same way that a gas meter will tell you how much gas you have used, your electricity meter is the instrument that tells you how much electricity your household has consumed. Again, it’s important that you know how to read your electricity meter and send readings regularly to your electricity supplier. If you have a smart electric meter, your supplier will receive your meter readings automatically – you don’t have to do anything.
It is estimated that 4.3 million homes in the UK have a prepayment meter (Ofgem, 2019). They work in much the same way as a pay as you go mobile phone – you will only have access to energy as long as you keep your meter in credit. The way in which you top-up depends on what type of prepayment meter you have. Some require a token or a key and in some cases you can top up online or via an app. You can buy whatever you need to top-up at the Post Office as well as PayPoint or Payzone shops. This can come in very handy to know how much you have left on your meter so you don’t run out of credit.
The latest in energy meter technology, smart meters, are expected to be offered to all households in the UK by the end of 2025. Smart meters have a number of advantages over traditional energy meters. The main benefits are more accurate bills, due to the meter being able to ‘talk’ to your energy supplier, and no need to submit meter readings or have someone come round to read them for you. In addition, it’s hoped that when someone gets a smart meter installed, being able to access a breakdown of their energy consumption will push them to optimise and lower their usage. This should help households conserve energy and lower energy bills.
If you have a smart meter, you won’t need to know how to read an energy meter as it’s all done automatically. But if you’re curious about your energy usage, you can use the in-home display that comes with your smart meter to see how much energy you’re using in real time.
Want to know more? Our guide to smart meters explains how they work and what to expect when one is installed in your home.
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