Tips on how to read an energy meter properly

You’d be surprised at just how many people are unable to read an energy meter correctly. Luckily help is at hand with the following tips from Energy Switcheroo on how to read your energy meter.

It may be awkward scrabbling about under the stairs with a torch, to check your meter. Chances are you will stumble out, only to repeat the performance, because you can’t read your scribbled note! But if you want to make sure that you are being charged correctly and not paying more than needed on an estimate reading, it is well worth the time to understand your meter.

There is nothing worse than a larger than expected bill; it causes stress that could have been avoided. You would be wise to give your supplier a reading every time a bill is due, because they may not call to read it for you each time. If the bill is based on a previous year’s consumption, it may be widely inaccurate, particularly if you had more people living in your home then, bad weather conditions or even a previous owner.

Not all meters are the same, you have gas and electricity, but within those two there may be an ordinary standard meter, one with dials, or new smart meters. It may be an economy 7 or a prepayment or token version.

Types of meters

The standard electrical meter is easy to read, just write down the five visible numbers, anything in red just ignore.

A little sympathy is appropriate if you have a dial meter, as they are not as easy to understand. There will be a series of small dials like individual clocks. To make matters worse the dials will be going in different directions. So try to follow this advice.

  • 6 or 7 dials each will move in the alternative direction to the one either side of it.
  • Ignore anything in red or dials without numbers or even hands.
  • Always record the lower number when the hand is between one and the next. If it is covering a number look at the next dial to see if it has passed the change point.
  • Good luck.
  • Tip.   Next time the meter reader official knocks at your door, see what he/she records then look at your dials to see how he/she came up with those numbers.

Smart or digital meters

With digital meters, take the first 5 visible numbers, ignore red digits or any number that appears after a decimal place. Old digital gas meters may only have four numbers.

Prepayment and token meters

Prepayment meters can be single rates, or have rates for day and night. Any credit that you still have should be displayed and you will need to press the console controls to take a meter reading. If you pay by token purchased from your energy supplier or post office, readings will be similar to prepayment meters.

By subtracting your previous reading from your new one, you will be able to see how many units you have used. Keep a record so that over a period of time you will be able to see a pattern emerging. This will be invaluable in controlling your energy bills. Spikes in usage may be able to be identified, and prevented from re-occurring by sensible energy use.

Energy Switcheroo are always available to answer your energy supply comparison questions.