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Gas meters and gas meter readings explained

Gas meters and gas meter readings explained

If you don't have a smart meter, it's important to take an accurate meter reading from your gas meter and send it to your energy supplier on a regular basis. We explain how to read your gas meter whether it's dial, digital or standard.

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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.

Why do I need to take a gas meter reading?

It's important to take accurate meter readings of your gas consumption so you don't pay more than you need to. Otherwise, your gas supplier will use estimates of what they think you've used, leading to inaccurate gas bills.

The exceptions are if you have a smart meter or a prepayment meter.

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

If you have a standard 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 gas meters

There are five main types of gas meters: standard meters, dial meters, digital meters, smart 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.

Prepayment meters

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 gas meter readings

Once you have recorded your meter readings, 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.

Smart meters

The benefit of smart meters is that they automatically submit meter readings to your supplier so you don't have to. You can also monitor your energy usage on the in-home display so you can see how much you're spending. The smart meter rollout is underway, so you should be offered one by June 2025 if you haven't already.

Contacting your supplier

Suppliers often have a dedicated phoneline you can use to provide your own meter readings. This number should appear clearly on your bill, and many suppliers will email you to ask for meter readings which you can submit online. 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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