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How to read your gas and electricity meters - single & two rate

man in kitchen infront of boiler

Reading your gas and electricity meter may not be what you had planned to be doing with your Saturday morning, but don’t fret: it literally takes a minute or two. The reason we do this is because energy suppliers are only legally obligated to read your meter every two years, which means the rest of the time, unless you have a smart meter, your usage is being estimated, which means more expensive bills.

Most suppliers do send out a meter reader much more frequently than this, but estimations are something you most certainly want to avoid, because 9 times out of 10 you will be paying more than your actual energy usage. You will also need to give a meter reading when you move in or leave your property.

Taking a meter reading has never been easier: you can enter your meter reading online, on the phone, by text and many energy suppliers have mobile phone apps in which you can send it over too. These are advanced metering options that were not available even a few years ago. Remember that your energy provider will help with questions regarding your meter but for an outage you need to contact your Distribution Network Operator.

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How does it work?

meter reading with blue electric bolt

So, to start with you are going to need to locate both your gas and electricity meters. These are usually in dark and hidden places, such as under the stairs or in a cupboard. When you’ve found your meter, doing a quick google search for ‘gas and electricity meter’ will show you that yours probably isn’t the same as the ones you have found and that there are many different types, that require different reading styles to get the right kilowatt hour numbers.

For our electricity infrastructure, these are ‘single rate’, ‘two rate’, ‘two rate single display’ and ‘dual meter’. For gas these are ‘digital electric’ and ‘imperial’, each of which may seem self-explanatory, but you’ll also find an illustration and explanation for each type.

Single rate meter (electricity)

The single rate meter has a digital display and is probably the easiest to read. For this electricity meter type you will need to do the following:

  • Write down the first 5 digits on the screen panel reading from left to right.
  • If there is an extra digit (s), usually shown in red, you should ignore it.
A single rate energy meter  showing a reading
Reading one: 02732

Two rate meter (electricity)

This electricity meter type is used for prepayment and Economy 7 customers, who have an off peak and on peak rate. This is usually a non-digital type of advanced metering, with two number dials rather than a screen. For this meter type you’ll need the following:

  • Both 5 digit numbers on the number dials reading from left to right.
A two rate electricity meter
Reading: 94206 & 49761

Two rate single display meter (electricity)

This type of electricity meter can also be used for residential prepayment or economy 7 customers and is pretty much the same as the above ‘two rate’ meter, but it only has one screen, meaning it alternates between your two rate measurements. This means that your household may have heating and some appliances on a separate circuit.

Some of these meter types will alternate automatically between the first and second rate; however, some have a button which you’ll have to press in order to switch. While this may be a digital meter, it does not mean it has smart metering abilities. For this meter type you’ll need:

  • The first five digit numbers on the screen panel reading from the left to right. This should be done for both numbers, allowing it to automatically change or pressing the button.
A two rate single display energy meter
Reading: 45131

Dial meter (electricity)

This is perhaps the most difficult and ambiguous meter type to read. It should consist of 5 normal dials and one red, that you can pretty much ignore. The 5 dials, as shown in the example below are your five numbers that you’ll need to report. If your dial is in between numbers, always report the lower number; however, beware that often your dials will turn in opposite directions, so make sure you’ve read it correctly. For this meter type you’ll need to:

  • Write down the 5 numbers sourced from the dials
  • Remember that if it the dial is in between numbers, always report the lower number.
Dial meter showing reading
Reading: 4
dial meter showing reading
Reading: 73753

Digital electric meter (gas)

Similar to the ‘single rate’ electricity meter, this meter type is a simple digital screen with one number set. However, this one has a few more numbers and you don’t need all of them. For this meter type you need:

  • The first 5 digits to the left of the decimal point. You can ignore the other three, which may be displayed in red.
A digital electric gas meter showing a reading
Reading: 24804

Imperial meter (gas)

This meter type is the older style and is extremely common in most older housing estates. This is much easier to read that the digital gas meter. There is one simple set of numbers and you’ll need:

  • The first 4 large digits reading from left to right, ignoring the two smaller digits in red.
An imperial gas meter showing a reading
Reading: 2684

How to submit your reading

electric bolts graphic

Each energy supplier differs on their preference for receiving your gas and electricity meter readings, but most energy suppliers now offer an online metering submission service. As such, you should go to the website of your energy supplier and sign into your account to find out where you can submit your reading.

More and more apps are available for the majority of popular suppliers in which you can simply enter the digits you need. Alternatively you can still submit your reading the old fashioned way on the phone or by texting your supplier.

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