How to read your gas and electricity meters

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Why do you need to take meter readings?

It’s important to take regular meter readings, because your energy supplier uses these to track how much gas and electricity you use, and work out how much your bill will be.

If you don’t provide regular readings to your supplier, they’ll estimate your bill. This means they’ll use previous data to make an educated guess of how much energy they think you’ve used, and they’ll charge you for that amount, rather than the actual energy you’ve used.

As estimated meter readings aren’t usually very accurate, it’s likely you’ll either end up paying too much or too little towards your energy costs.

If you’re paying too much then you will build up credit on your account. You’ll eventually get this reimbursed when accurate meter readings are taken, but this could take a while, and you’ll be out of pocket in the meantime.

If the estimate is too low and you’re not paying enough towards your energy costs, then this is even worse as you’ll build up debt on your account. At some point, when accurate meter readings are provided, you’ll have to repay this debt. If you can’t pay, then your energy supplier can stop you from switching to a better deal with another supplier, or they could insist on installing a prepayment meter to gradually repay the debt over time. This would probably result in even higher energy costs.

How to read gas and electricity meters

The good news is that reading your meters is fairly straightforward. If your property only uses electricity then you only need to take one reading, but if your property uses both gas and electricity then you’ll need to take two separate meter readings.

How to read a digital meter

digital meter
Make a note of all the digits shown, excluding anything after the decimal. Be sure to include any zeros at the start. In this diagram the meter reading is 08613.

How to read an imperial meter

imperial meter
Record all the digits shown, except the digits in red. Be sure to include any zeros at the start. In this diagram the meter reading is 08613.

How to read a mechanical dial meter

imperial dial meters
Taking readings from a dial meter is slightly trickier. Read the dials from left to right. If an arrow is between two numbers, use the lower 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.

How to submit meter readings

You can submit your meter readings in one of two ways. One popular option is to provide your meter readings online. To do this, you’ll need to log in to your online account with your energy supplier, and find the option to ‘submit a meter reading’. Then you just have to enter the numbers from your meters, and you’re done. If you don’t have an online account, you can usually register on your supplier’s website, or over the phone.

Alternatively, you can submit meter readings by phoning your supplier. The number to call to provide a reading will be shown on your bill. Make sure you have your account reference number to hand before you call.

How often should you provide meter readings?

As a minimum, you should provide meter readings every three months. Ideally, though, once per month is ideal, to make sure your energy costs are always accurate, particularly during the winter months. But, there’s nothing stopping you providing meter readings as often as you like.

Taking meter readings for others

If you have elderly friends or relatives, or if look after someone with a disability or special needs, then be sure to help them take their meter readings as well. These are the people who need as much protection as possible against inflated energy bills, particularly in the colder months.

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