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Meter readings cover

How and why to submit meter readings to your energy provider

Disclaimer: The information on this page was correct as of August 20, 2021.

Meter reading is something we all do every month (or at least should) but sometimes it can be quite confusing. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a guide all about reading your meter to make everything easier. As always, we’ve got you covered.

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Why meter readings are important

While regularly reading your meter can be a chore, it’s an extremely important task when it comes to your energy bills.

Your meter readings let your provider know how much energy you’re using so that they can bill you correctly. This makes sure that you’re only paying for energy you’re using – no more and no less. If you pay by fixed direct debit, it also ensures that you don’t build up too much credit or debit on your account.

When you’re looking to switch providers, they’ll often ask for your energy usage so that they can offer you the best tariffs and prices. If you submit regular readings, your energy bill will show you how much you’ve used so far and an estimate of how much you’ll be using over the next year. This is really helpful as you can make sure you’re paying the right amount for your energy from the start.

How to take gas meter readings

There are a few different gas meters you might have, all of which are read differently. Find which meter you have below to learn how to read it and give the right meter readings.

If you’re not sure which meter type you have, you can contact your energy provider and they should be able to help.

If you have a digital meter…

There are two types of digital gas meter: imperial and metric.

An imperial meter will have 4 numbers, followed by 2 red boxes (which might also contain numbers). When giving your reading, write down the first 4 digits, excluding any in the red boxes.

A metric meter will have 5 numbers, followed by a decimal point and a few extra numbers (these might also be in red). You should only use the numbers BEFORE the decimal point, including any zeros.

If you have a dial meter…

A gas dial meter will look like this:

These meters may seem complicated to read at first, but they’re quite simple once you get the hang of it.

Reading the dials from left to right, write down the number that the pointer is closest to. If it’s between numbers, you should use the lower one, but if it’s between 9 and 0, use 9.

There might be more than 4 dials on your meter. If there is, only use the bottom 4 as your meter reading.

How to take electricity meter readings

Like there are multiple gas meters, there are many different electricity meters to look out for.

If you have a digital meter…

There is only one type of digital electricity meter which looks like this:

Only use the first 5 numbers as your reading, ignoring any numbers in red.

If you have a dial meter…

Reading an electricity dial meter is quite different from reading a gas dial meter and slightly more complicated. Your meter should look like this:

To read this meter, write down the numbers the pointer has just passed. If the pointer is on a number exactly, underline it. If the dial after the underlined number reads between 9 and 0, reduce the underlined number by one, otherwise use the number as it is.

If you have an Economy 7 meter…

You’ll have to write down two readings for this type of meter – one for your daytime usage and one for your nighttime usage. It’s important to read these meters properly as each reading will be charged at a different rate.

If your meter has 2 different displays with readings on, the top one will be the cheaper nighttime rate and the bottom will be the more expensive daytime rate. Use the first five numbers on each display, ignoring any in red.

If your meter only has 1 display, you can use the button to move between readings. The reading starting with ‘Rate 1’ or ‘R1’ will be your cheaper nighttime rate and the reading starting with ‘Rate 2’ or ‘R2’ will be your more expensive daytime reading.

How to read a smart meter

If you have a smart meter, you shouldn’t have to read your meter as your meter readings will be sent automatically. However, sometimes things go wrong and you have to manually submit your readings again. If you’re asked to submit meter readings, even if you have a smart meter, you should know how to read a smart meter.

If your smart meter has A and B buttons…

Keep pressing ‘A’ until your meter reads ‘meter index’ for your gas reading or ‘total act import’ for your electricity reading.

If your smart meter has a keypad…

Press 9 on the keypad. Your gas reading will be the number followed by ‘m3’ and your electricity reading will be the number followed by ‘kWh’.

If your smart electricity meter has two buttons…

Keep pressing the display button until you reach a number ending in kWh – this is your electricity reading.

If your smart electricity meter has three buttons…

Press the middle button. Your reading is the number under ‘IMP’.

Reading your in-home display

You can also find your meter reading through your in-home display. Simply press the menu button and scroll through until you see ‘reading’. You can use the arrow buttons to switch between gas and electricity.

Submitting your meter reading

Most energy providers give you a wide choice of ways you can submit your meter readings.

These include:

  • Automatically through your smart meter
  • Through your online account
  • Through your provider’s dedicated app
  • By email
  • By phone (many providers have dedicated automated meter reading lines)
  • Using the provider’s live chat service
  • By post
  • Having a meter reader out

When to submit meter readings

To make sure your bills are always accurate, you should submit your meter readings regularly. How regularly depends on when you pay your bill – whether you pay monthly or quarterly.

Your provider will normally send you a reminder when it’s time to submit your readings but there’s nothing stopping you from sending them as often as you like. You should aim to send them at least 2-3 days before your bill is due to make sure that it’s calculated correctly.

You should also make sure you submit meter readings when you move in and out of a property or switch energy providers. This makes sure that each provider starts and stops billing you on the right date and for the right amount of energy.

Automatic meter readings!

Did you know that with a smart meter you’ll never have to submit a meter reading again! 100% accurate bills, all the time. Give us a call to find out more about automatic meter readings.

What happens if I don’t submit my meter reading?

If you don’t submit readings regularly, you’ll receive estimated bills based on how much energy your provider thinks you’ve used. It’s very unlikely that this estimate will be right. It may be close, but not accurate.

This may not sound so bad, however, there are two main disadvantages you might come across:

  • Your provider has overestimated your energy usage and you’re paying too much
  • Your provider has underestimated your energy usage and you’re not paying enough

It’s likely that your provider will send out a meter reader if you don’t submit meter readings regularly. This gives them a better idea of how much energy you’re using and helps make your future estimated bills more accurate. If they find you haven’t been paying enough, your next bill(s) might be higher than you’re expecting in order to cover the debit you’ve built up.

Why is my smart meter not sending readings automatically?

The main reason why many people have a smart meter installed is that they send your meter readings automatically so when you’re being asked to submit readings, you might be tempted to ignore the prompts. However, there are many reasons why your smart meter might not be sending readings, so you should always submit them when you’re prompted.

If you’ve recently switched providers, it may be that your new provider doesn’t support your smart meter, especially if you have a first-generation (SMETS1) meter. If this happens, your smart meter won’t be able to communicate with your provider and will lose some of its smart features. You’ll still be able to use your in-home display as normal, but you’ll have to submit your readings manually and won’t be able to view your usage through your online account or app.

Your provider could also lose connection to your meter for a different reason, whether that’s a fault on their end or a disruption to the signal. Because of this, it’s best to contact your supplier if you think something has gone wrong – they might be able to fix it remotely or send someone out to do it in person.

If you have a SMETS1 meter and your home has a bad phone signal, your meter might not be sending readings because they use the phone networks to communicate with your provider. Luckily, this should be fixed in the near future, either by having a SMETS2 meter or waiting until SMETS1 meters are moved onto the same DCC network and don’t need a phone signal anymore.

Find out more about your smart meter

If you need some more help...

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This page was written by...

Polly Tyler

I've loved writing since I was a child and have worked on a number of different projects since I left school, including journalism, copywriting, and marketing. Utilty Switchboard has given me the opportunity to grow my knowledge and experience and I've loved every minute!

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