If you really want to cut your energy bills, it helps to know how much gas and electricity you’re using – although we can compare gas and electricity prices by estimating your energy usage, we can offer more accurate quotes if we know how much energy you generally use.
Here’s a quick overview of the types of gas and electricity meters you may have in your home, and how you can use them to work out your household energy usage.
A prepayment meter is a special type of energy meter that requires you to pay for your energy before you use it, usually by adding money to a 'key' or smart card, which is then inserted into the meter to add credit.
For more information on ‘pay-as-you-go’ meters, including how to switch from a prepayment to a credit meter, check out Everything you need to know about prepayment meters.
Credit meters are the most common types of household gas meter. Readings are shown as numbers, either in dial or digital form, depending upon the age of your meter. When taking a reading, make a note of the numbers in the order they appear, ignoring any digits in red.
If you have a credit meter you will most likely be billed monthly or quarterly (every four months) and, if you’re on accurate billing, you’ll need to regularly provide accurate meter readings. A meter reader may also visit your home once or twice a year to check the readings you’re providing are up to date.
What are the pros and cons of credit meters?
Advantages of credit meters
Disadvantages of credit meters
Standard meters are the most common type of electricity meter in the UK, and measure electricity usage per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is the number of units of energy you use in one hour.
As with credit gas meters, you’ll most likely be billed monthly or quarterly, and may need to provide regular meter readings to make sure you’re not being under or over-charged. Again, to take a reading just make a note of the first five figures displayed from left to right, ignoring any numbers in red.
What are the pros and cons of standard meters?
Advantages of standard meters
Disadvantages of standard meters
Economy 7 meters work in much the same way as standard meters, the only difference being that these variable rate meters give two readings - one for daytime hours and one for overnight, when a discounted rate is usually applied.
There are two types of economy 7 meters - one will display 2 sets of numbers with your daytime reading on top and your night-time reading underneath, while the other only has one set of numbers, but also has a button (usually red) that you need to press to display a night rate.
There’s more information at Everything you need to know about Economy 7.
What are the pros and cons of variable rate or ‘Economy7’ meters?
Advantages of Economy 7
Disadvantages of Economy 7
What is a prepayment electricity meter?
Prepayment electricity meters work in exactly the same way as the name suggests - instead of paying for your electricity after you have used it, you pay before.
There are two main types of prepayment meters:
You can switch from a prepayment meter to a credit meter – find out more in our guide to prepayment meters.
What are the pros and cons of prepayment meters?
Advantages of prepayment meters
Disadvantages of prepayment meters
Smart meters are the latest in energy meter technology, offering detailed information on how and when you use energy, instead of just how much energy you’ve used. Smart meters also send real-time energy usage figures to your supplier, meaning there’s no need to take readings and no more estimated billing.
Find out more in our complete guide to smart meters.
What are the pros and cons of smart meters?
Advantages of smart meters
Disadvantages of smart meters
Economy 10 meters work in much the same way as Economy 7, but are not as widely supported by gas and electric suppliers as standard and Economy 7 meters.
Economy 10 offers ten hours of discounted, ‘off-peak’ rates, usually a combination of three afternoon hours, two evening hours, and five overnight hours, and meters can measure the amount of energy you use in these hours, alongside your daily usage rate.
There’s more information in our guide to Economy 10 electricity tariffs.
What are the pros and cons of economy 10 meters?
Advantages of Economy 10
Disadvantages of Economy 10