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How to take an energy meter reading

How to take an energy meter reading

It's vital to take a meter reading from your gas and electricity meters and send it to your energy supplier regularly if you don't have a smart meter.

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If you're on a standard meter and don't send meter readings, 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.

How to take a meter reading

It's important to be able to read your 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 the different types of meters that are used to help you.

  • 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.

    Meter types

    There are four main types of non-smart 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.

Types of energy meters

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

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.

You should ensure that you take regular readings from your gas meter 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 meter reading and you may end up with a huge 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.

For more on gas meters and how to read them, click here.

Electricity meters

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. It doesn’t estimate your consumption in the same way as your energy supplier and for this reason it is important that you submit frequent readings.

Want to know more? Our guide to electricity meters will answer any other questions you might have.

how to take a meter reading

Prepayment meters

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.

If you have a prepayment meter and want to know how to switch energy plan or even switch to a different type of meter, check out our dedicated guide.

Smart meters

The latest in energy meter technology, smart meters, are expected to be offered to all households in the UK by 2024. 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.

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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