If you want to know how much electricity you’re using, you’ll need to consult your meter. Since your energy supplier will often send you bills based on estimates (unless you’ve got a smart meter), your meter is where you’ll want to go to get fully accurate usage data. But it’s not always obvious how you should interpret the various screens and dials that your meter might show you. We’re here to help
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This means that by using your electricity meter to check your energy usage, you can avoid being overcharged by your energy supplier. For this reason it is extremely useful to be able to take correct meter readings. Luckily, taking meter readings on your electricity meter is easy and could save you a lot of money.
There are a few different types of electricity meter out there. The way that you take your reading will, of course, depend upon which type of meter you have.
Standard Electric Meters
Most people in the UK have standard electric meters, also known as electric mechanical meters. These meters work by using a revolving dial that turns according to the amount of energy that is used. In other words the more energy that is used, the more the dial will turn, displaying a higher figure. This dial will look similar to the mileage dial that you would find on a car dashboard.
To take a reading from an electricity meter like this, all you need to do is read the black numbers from left to right. Sometimes a standard electric meter will display a set of red numbers. If this is the case with your meter, then ignore these numbers and just record the black ones.
This type of electricity meter is the most straightforward to read. All you need to do is locate the display and make a note of the first five numbers that are being shown. If there are not any numbers on display, then you may need to push a button on the meter before it shows you what they are.
If there is a set of numbers after the first five that begin with 0.1., then just ignore these. You only need to make a note of the first five in order to take a reading.
Dial meters work by rotating a series of dials. These dials turn based on the amount of energy you have used.
When you take a meter reading from a dial meter, start from left to right and make a note of each of the figures. If one of the dials is showing a display that is between two numbers then you should make a note of the number that it passed over first.
If one of the figures you have noted down is followed by a 9 then you should reduce the original digit by 1. For example if it reads 459 then you should change the 5 to a 4. Your meter reading should now read 449.
Some dial meters will have a red dial, if this is the case with your meter then you can ignore the red dial. You only need to make a note of the black numbers in order to take a reading.
Economy 7 Meters
If you are on an economy 7 tariff, you will be paying two different rates for your electricity supply. This means that you will need to take two different meter readings. One of these readings will be for your daytime energy use, the other will be for your night time use.
Normally an economy 7 meter will have two separate displays. The top display, which will be marked as “normal”, will show you your daytime energy use. The second display, which will be marked “low”, will show you your night time energy use.
Some economy 7 meters will only show one display at a time. If your meter only shows one figure at once, then you will need to push a button on your meter to access the other reading. The reading that is automatically being displayed will be your daytime or “normal” tariff and the second will be your night time or “low” tariff.
If you are on a prepayment tariff with your energy company, then you will be paying on a top up system. This means that the number which is automatically displayed on your electricity meter will be your remaining credit level. To change this to your meter reading you need to push a button on your meter. This will change the display to your energy use information. Once it has done this, you simply continue to take your electricity meter reading as you would any other.
If you are on a prepayment plan that uses an economy 7 price structure, then you will need to push the button on your meter twice. After one push your meter will display your daytime usage, after a second it will display your night time usage.
Now that you have taken your meter reading, you can use it to check that you have been paying the right amount on your energy bills. Have a look at your most recent bill and see if what you were charged for matches up to your meter reading.
If it looks like you have been overpaying for your energy supply, then you are entitled to a refund for the amount that they have overcharged you by. If you need any assistance in receiving this refund or for lodging a complaint then you should contact Citizens Advice or the Energy Ombudsman. These bodies will advise you on what action you should take. However we strongly advise that your first step should be to contact your supplier directly.
Some people in the UK will find it difficult to take meter readings for themselves. The reasons for this could be extremely varied. If you are disabled, extremely ill or a pensioner then you can contact your energy supplier and request for someone to be sent round to take a meter reading on your behalf.
If your meter is in a particularly inaccessible place in your home, then you can also ask your electricity supplier to come round and move it for you.
Both of these services should be freely provided by your gas or electricity supplier.
If you feel like you’re paying too much for your gas and electricity supply, then it may be time to consider switching your supplier. Switching energy supplier does not take long at all and there will never be any disruption to your power supply.