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How to read your gas and electricity meter

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why is it important to know?

Your gas and electricity meter are very important in helping you know how much energy you use home. And, they are the best way in working out how well you done in trying to save energy and money.

It is important to understand that your meter is the most accurate way of measuring your actual energy consumption. Do not just trust the meter readings on your bills, as these could be based on estimated meter readings and will only give you a snapshot look into your energy consumption over the bill period, often quarterly or even just annually.

Different types of meters

There are several different types of electricity meter installed in the UK: a standard meter (also called an electric mechanical meter), a dial meter (which looks like a series of clock-faces shown in the picture at the top of this guide) and digital meters. In addition, there are some special meters for specific tariffs e.g. Economy 7, smart meters and prepayments meters (Part 1 and Part 2), we have covered more information about these in previous articles.

Your electricity meter displays the number of kWhs, or units of electricity, that have been consumed. Don’t worry if this looks like a big number, as this is the total number of units that have been measured since the meter was installed. When taking a meter reading we want the reading to have five figures, this may start with at least one zero. Your gas meter is slightly different and measures the volume of gas that you have used usually expressed in cubic feet (ft3) or cubic meters (m3). This is later converted to kWhs by your supplier (the calculation of how to do this will be shown on your bill).

How do I read my meter?

Standard meter (electric mechanical meter)

This is the most common type of electricity and gas meter in the UK. You need to take a reading of five black numbers, reading from left to right and including any zeros. Ignore any red numbers or after the decimal point, if displayed. In the example below the meter reading would be 05812.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 16.51.17

Dial meter

Dials meters are slightly more complex to read. The meter should look like a series of 6 clock-faces: five in black and a sixth in red. It is important to note that the dials do not all turn in the same direction; dials next to each other will turn in different directions, one clockwise the other anti-clockwise.

The dial meter is read in the same manner as a standard meter: from left to right and ignoring the last (sixth) red dial. If the hand (or needle) is between two numbers note down the number the dial has just passed e.g. if between 2 and 3, the dial should be read as a 2.

Here is where the reading of a dial meter becomes slightly more complex. If the dial is directly over one of the numbers (e.g. a 6) underline this number and look at the next dial. If the number of the next dial (on the right), to an underlined number, is a 9 reduced the figure by 1. In this example the 1 (on the 4th dial) would become a 0.

A typical dial meter is shown below. In the picture the meter would be read as 85109.


Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 17.03.51

Digital meters

Digital meters are one of the easiest meters to read. Simply note down the first five figures including any zeroes. You may need to press a button to display the meter reading. Consult your meter user-manual if you are unsure. If you cannot find this user guide, you should contact your electricity or gas supplier.

Over to you

Remember to check out some of our other useful guides and explanations here.

  • Andrew Timmis
  • Posted by
    Andrew Timmis
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