Providing regular meter readings to your energy provider is extremely important, as it is how your usage is tracked and ultimately dictates how much you are charged for your gas and electricity.
The danger of not providing regular meter readings to your energy supplier is that more of your bill will be estimated. That is, your energy provider will have to use previous data to estimate how much energy they think you’ve used and charge you for that amount, rather than the actual energy you’ve used. These estimates will then dictate how much your Monthly or Quarterly Direct Debit amount is or how much you will be asked to pay when the bill lands on your doormat.
As estimated meter readings are very rarely exactly accurate, you will either end up paying too much or too little towards your energy costs.
If you are paying too much then you will build up credit on your account. You will eventually get this reimbursed when actual meter readings are provided or taken, but this could be a while and in the meantime you are out of pocket.
If the estimate is too low and you are paying too little towards your energy costs then this is even worse as you will build up debt on your account. At some point, when accurate meter readings are provided, you will be asked to repay this debt. If your estimates have been inaccurate for a number of months then this could come to a sizable sum. If you are unable to pay this debt then the energy provider can stop you from changing suppliers to get better deals or could insist that a prepayment meter is installed to gradually repay the debt over time, which would probably result in even higher energy costs.
The good news is that reading your meters is fairly straightforward. If your property only uses electricity then you only need to provide one reading, but if your property uses both gas and electricity then you will need to provide two separate meter readings.
Locate your meter(s) - remember that your gas meter may be located outside the property – and take a look at the front panel. It will look similar to one of the following:
Record all the digits shown, excluding anything after the decimal. Be sure to include any zero’s at the start. In this diagram the meter reading is 08613
Record all the digits shown, excluding digits in red. Be sure to include any zero’s at the start. In this diagram the meter reading is 08613
Mechanical dial meter
Taking readings from a dial meter is slightly trickier. Read the dials from left to right. If an arrow is between two numbers, record the lowest of the two numbers (note that adjacent dials turn in opposite directions). Don’t record any numbers shown on red dials. In this diagram the meter reading is 8613.
Meter readings can be submitted in one of two ways. Commonly nowadays, meter readings are provided online. This requires you to login to an account that you have set up on your energy suppliers website and locate an option to ‘submit a meter reading’. Here you can just enter all of the numbers you previously noted down and submit and that’s the job done. If you don’t have an online account and want one, you can usually register on your suppliers website, or failing that over the telephone.
If you aren’t able to register an online account with your energy provider or are not overly comfortable with using a computer or the Internet, then you can also submit meter readings by phoning your supplier. The number to call to provide a reading will be shown on your bill. It’s helpful to have your account reference number to hand before you call.
As a minimum meter readings should be provided every three months, but once per month is preferable to ensure your energy costs are kept accurate - particularly during the winter months. However, you can provide meter readings as often as you like so if you want to provide meter readings more frequently than this then feel free.
If you have elderly friend or relatives or look after someone with a disability or special needs, then be sure to help them take their meter readings as well, as of course these are the people that need as much protection as possible against inflated energy bills, particularly in the colder months.