15 December 2017 : 
Home / Tools / How to guides / Saving money on your energy bills / How to read your gas and electricity meters

Saving money on your energy bills

3. How to read your gas and electricity meters

The next step in the process to saving you some money on your energy bills is to find out how much energy you are using. If you are going to understand how your bills are worked out, you first need to get to know your meters and how to read them.

Know your meter

There are two types of meter; a credit meter and a pre-payment meter.

A credit meter allows you to use energy and pay for it later when you get a bill.

A pre-payment meter only allows you energy if you have previously put credit on to it by topping-up a key or card and then putting it into the meter. You can only use as much energy as is covered by the amount of money still left registering on the meter.

Taking readings from your meter

A: Electricity

There are two types of electricity meters; digital display and dial display.

Digital display

1. Single rate digital meters

This type of meter is seen as the modern replacement of the dial display meters. It will show you the units used at a single rate unit price (all units you use will be charged at the same price). It does this on an LCD display.

To read this type of meter, read the numbers from left to right. Ignore the last figure marked 0.1. To figure out the number of units you have used subtract your last reading from the present one.

2.  Economy 7 meters

These meters also present information on an LCD display. The difference with an economy 7 meter is with the number of rows of figures you are presented with.

Economy 7 plans allow you to have cheaper electricity at night. Therefore you have a meter that shows you the units you have used in the day, and one to show the units used at night.

The night-rate figure will be represented by LOW or RATE 1. The day rate figure will be represented by NORMAL or RATE 2.

To work out how many day units you have used, take away the old day rate reading from the new day rate reading.

To work out your night units, take away the old night rate reading from the new night rate reading.

NOTE: Some economy 7 meters have one LCD screen that will flash up the different readings in number order (1, 2, etc.). However, sometimes the date and time will flash up as figures that can easily be confused with the readings. Bear this in mind when you read your meter or you may be reading the figure off as the date or time e.g. 31.12.07 could be read as a meter reading of 311207 when it is really the date.

Dial display meters

(Example of dial meter from EDF Energy website)

Dial display meter have six dials reading 1-9. The dial at the bottom can be ignored because it is there for testing purposes only.

The dials that are next to each other go in opposite directions (your meter's dials may go in a different order to the ones above but they will still be in opposite directions)

To take the reading, bear in mind the following points:

  1. Look at the dials from left to right.
  2. Write down the number that the pointer has just passed. This may not be the number that the pointer is nearest to. If the pointer is between 4 and 5, note down 4.
  3. If the pointer is directly over a number, underline it when you write it down.

From this you should get a meter reading of 4 5 9 2 8 from the above example. However it needs adjusting slightly to remove small variations in the pointer positions.

Look at the underlined figure. If it is followed by a 9 reduce the underlined number by 1.

The correct meter reading is 4 4 9 2 8.

Now you have a numbered meter reading, you can take your previous reading away from it to see how many units you have used.

B: Gas

Like electricity meters, gas meters can either have pointer dials or number dials. The only difference with gas dial meters is that they only have 4 dials to read.

Meters with number dials turn round much like those on a milometer in a car. You just need to read off the four numbers to get your meter reading.

If you have a gas pre-prepayment meter then you will likely be given a card to top up to put gas credit onto your meter.

Have a look at your meters and try to read them using the tips above

Guide contents

  1. Energy companies
  2. Energy plans - what do they mean?
  3. How to read your gas and electricity meters
  4. How energy bills are worked out
  5. How to read your energy bills
  6. Energy payment options - which one is best for you?
  7. Dual fuel discount
  8. What is Economy 7?
  9. Switching energy companies
  10. Green tips to cut gas and electricity bills
  11. Helpful contacts for gas and electricity information

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