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How To Read (And Understand!) Your Electricity Meter

Reading your electricity meter

It’s important to be able to read and understand your electricity meter so that you are not overcharged. Thankfully it’s quick and easy to do – and it could save you a lot of money. Your electricity meter shows exactly how much energy has been used. This makes it more accurate than the bills that your energy company sends you.

There are almost 53 million electricity meters installed across the United Kingdom. They are located in over 30 million premises including households (26 of the 30 million premises) and businesses.

Being able to take accurate meter readings will help you understand if you are overpaying for electricity. However, because there are many different types of meters, taking a reading is not always straightforward.

The Importance Of Being Able To Take Accurate Meter Readings

There are a number of different electricity suppliers in the UK, and each of them works differently. Some suppliers will ask for regular readings or send a staff member to read the meter. Others, meanwhile, receive automatic readings from smart meters.

Unless you have a smart meter, it is essential to be able to take readings. This is because you will either need to provide them to your supplier, or you will need the information to ensure that your bills are as accurate as possible. Additionally, regularly reading your meters will mean that you are immediately aware if there is a fault.

According to UK legislation, electricity meters are required to be within +2.5% and -3.5% accurate. Government figures show that 7% of the electricity meters tested since 2003 were faulty. These figures are based on electricity meters that were tested because of a suspected fault. This means that numbers could be much higher for the population as a whole.

Types of Electricity Meters And How To Read Them

There are six main types of electricity meters including digital, Economy 7, dial, two-rate, prepaid and smart meters. They all work differently, but by following the steps below, you will be able to take an accurate reading from any meter type.

Digital Meters

A digital electricity meter shows your current meter reading.

To take a reading: read the numbers from left to right and ignore any numbers that appear in red or after a decimal point.

Economy 7 or Domestic Economy Meter

If you have an Economy 7 or Domestic Economy meter, there will be two rows of numbers on the display.

To take a reading: Low: this is reading for off-peak units (nighttime), Normal: this is the reading for peak-time units (daytime).

Dial Meters

These are older generation electricity meters that have dials in place of a row of numbers.

To take a reading: read the dials from left to right, and ignore the dial marked 1/10. If the pointer is between 2 numbers, note down the lower number, but if the pointer is between 9 and 0, the reading will always be 9.

If the pointer is exactly on a number, but the following dial is on the number 9, take one away from the number.

Two-Rate Meters

Some meters have two readings when you press a button on the meter. If you are on an Economy 7, Economy 10 or Evening and Weekend tariff, you may have a two-rate meter.

To take a reading: press the button on the front of the meter, the meter will then show each reading with a label next to it. These labels differ, sometimes called ‘R1’ and ‘R2’, ‘1’ and ‘2’, ‘L’ and ‘N’ or ‘Low’ and ‘Normal.’ The day and night readings will depend on how your meter has been configured. A reliable way to check which is the peak vs. off-peak reading is to compare the figures for the previous month against your most recent bill.

Prepayment Meters

A pay-as-you-go meter will have a button on the front. By pressing the button, you will be able to see how much credit you have left. It also shows the amount of electricity that is being used and the cost per unit of electricity.

Smart Electricity Meters

Smart electricity meters are a new type of gas and electricity meter. They are able to send meter readings digitally to your energy supplier for more accurate energy bills. Smart meters offer an easy-to-understand display to help consumers understand their energy usage.

All electricity suppliers are required to offer their clients smart meters by the end of 2020. However, these are not compulsory, and consumers can choose not to have one installed. Government figures show that there have been over 12 million smart and advanced meters installed to date.

There are many benefits to switching. Estimates show that if all households switched to a smart meter, the total power saving in Britain would be equivalent to the electricity usage in Manchester, Liverpool, and Newcastle for a year. They also offer advantages to individuals including energy savings, no further estimated bills and an easy to understand display.

Another good way to save money on your electricity bills is to join a service like Switchd.

Understanding Electricity Meter Readings

Being able to accurately read your electricity meter is important in controlling the amount of electricity that you use. This will also reduce your costs. Compare your meter readings against your most recent bills to check that what you are being charged matches what you have used.

By taking regular readings, you will be able to pay the correct amount for your electricity. It will also make you aware if there is a fault in your meter readings before you are forced to pay extra.

If the rate that you are paying for electricity seems too high, consider switching using Switchd. It is quick and easy to do, and there won’t be any interruption to your power supply.