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Energy meters

Most of us will be aware that the amount of gas and electricity we use is measured by meters, but not everyone is aware of how many different types of energy meter are available.

From standard to digital, dial and pre-payment meters, there are several different ways in which your gas and electricity usage can be measured.

Reading your meter regularly is essential, as this will help ensure you don't end up being under or overcharged for the energy you use, so it's important to familiarise yourself with the type of meter you have.

Here, we outline the various energy meters on offer and provide tips on how to read them...

Standard meters

Standard meters are generally known in technical terms as electromechanical induction meters. These count the number of revolutions on an aluminium disc which rotates at a speed that is proportional to the power used. Therefore, the number of revolutions indicates the energy used.

In order to read your electricity or gas meter you should read from left to right recording any black numbers and don't include any red numbers if present.

Digital meters

Digital meters are straightforward as all you need to do to take a reading is to read the first five figures on the digital display - but ignore a final figure if it begins with 0.1.

You may need to press a button to get the reading to display.

Dial meters

A dial meter usually comprises of six dials. These read from left to right.
You only need to read the first five dials - starting with the 10,000kWh dial on the left and stopping after the 1 kWh dial.

Ignore a final red dial if it is present. If the needle on the dial is positioned between two figures then it is the figure it has just past that should be recorded.

If the pointer on a dial falls between 9 and 0, reduce the reading already taken for the dial on the left by one - for example, if your original recorded 5, reduce this to 4.

Economy 7 meters

These are for people who are on Economy 7 tariffs who commit to using most of their energy at night when electricity costs less.

An Economy 7 meter will show both night and daytime readings although they can display these in different ways. Certain meters, for example, have two sets of numbers, while others have one set of numbers which is the 'day rate' and you will have to press a button to display the 'night rate.'

Prepayment meters

With a prepayment meter you pay upfront before you use any gas and electricity. Standard prepayment meters can come with a single or two-rate reading, similar to that of Economy 7.

You can top it up based on how much you wish to use.

Smart meters

Smart meters work using a wireless transmitter that is clipped between the fuse-box and the electricity meter. This transfers information to a wireless display which will tell you how much energy you are burning every second.

Smart meters enable you to take a meter reading remotely, so you don't have to rely on manual and estimated readings.

How to give your meter reading to your supplier

Most suppliers will enable to submit your meter readings online provided you have your account number and personal details to hand.

Alternatively, you can phone your supplier and give them your details that way.

What if you cannot read your energy meter

If you are physically unable to read your meter, for example because you are disabled, contact your gas and electric suppliers and ask if they can come and take a meter reading for you.

If you are of pensionable age, disabled, visually or hearing impaired or chronically sick, you are eligible for certain free services and protection too.

You should ask your supplier to let you join its Priority Services Register (PSR), which will mean you can get help and advice quickly from your energy company.

Whichever type of meter you have, it is essential that you don't end up paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity. You should regularly compare the different tariffs available to ensure you are on the best possible deal.

If you aren't happy with your existing energy meters, contact your existing supplier to see how much changing them will cost.