In order to ensure your energy bills are accurate, it’s important to take regular meter readings. If you don’t, your supplier will base your energy bills on estimated usage – which could result in you paying too much.
Here, we run through the different types of energy meter and how to read them.
The majority of homes in the UK are fitted with standard meters, presenting readings on a simple, mechanical display. They measure the number of units of energy you use every hour.
Readings should be taken from left to right, and you should make a note of the black numbers (ignore the red numbers).
These are electronic and have a row of numbers displayed on an LCD screen.
You should make a note of the first five figures on the digital display, but ignore the final figure if it begins with 0.1. You may need to press a button to get the reading to display.
These typically feature six dials, which look like small clocks, and appear more complex than standard or digital meters.
You only need to read the first five dials. Ignore the last red dial, if there is one. Write down the figures that the dials are pointing towards and if the needle is positioned between two figures, record the figure it has just past.
Economy 7 meters
These meters are for households on Economy 7 tariffs which charge lower rates for electricity at night than in the daytime. They appear similar to standard meters, but have two readings – one for night and one for daytime.
Some meters have two sets of numbers, while others have one, which is the ‘day rate’. You may have to press a button to display the ‘night rate’.
A prepayment meter is basically a pay-as-you-go meter for gas and electricity, so you pay for your energy in advance. You’ll need to top up a card or key to do this.
Prepayment meters are typically used in rented properties, or where households are struggling to pay bills or have built up debts in the past.
The meters come with a single or two-rate reading, similar to that of Economy 7 meters. Read the figures from left to right, ignoring any red numbers.
Under government plans, most homes in the UK should be fitted with smart meters for both gas and electricity between 2016 and 2020. These meters offer information on how and when you use energy, and communicate your usage to your supplier.
Smart meters send billing information directly to the energy supplier, so there’s no need for meter readings, and you can be reassured that your bill is accurate.
Providing meter readings
Most suppliers enable you to submit readings online, so long as you have your account details to hand. Alternatively, you can provide readings over the phone.
Ideally, you should submit readings every month or so. Some suppliers will send you an email to remind you.
Business energy meters
You’ll also be able to get smart meters specifically for your business. However commercial energy tariffs can be different to domestic ones – have a look at our business energy section to learn more.
If you are unable to read your meter
If you are disabled or elderly, for example, and unable to access or read your meter, call your supplier for help. It should send somebody to take a reading on your behalf.
It’s also worth asking to join your supplier’s Priority Services Register (PSR). This means you can get help and advice quickly from your energy supplier.
Whichever type of meter you have, make sure you’re not paying over the odds. Compare tariffs regularly to check you’re on the best possible deal.