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Gas and electricity suppliers are responsible for providing meters as well as reading them, although customers should read their meters on a monthly basis if possible, as energy use fluctuates throughout the year.

Industry regulator, Ofgem, decides how frequently meters should be read, usually settling on a minimum frequency of once every two years; however, many suppliers now have a 'Must Read' procedure in place because customers frequently switch suppliers.

Energy consumers can provide meter readings for suppliers over the phone, by post or through online accounts. Those customers who have prepayment meters do not have to submit meter readings to their supplier.

How to Read Gas Meters

For those who have moved into a new home and do not know which company supplies the gas, the M Number Enquiry Line (0870 608 1524) can provide a MPRN (Meter Point Reference Number). Every gas meter has a unique MPRN and this number identifies who is the registered gas supplier for the property.

When receiving the first bill, customers ought to check that the gas serial number matches the meter number. They should also check whether the meter is Imperial or Metric i.e., measuring gas in cubic feet (ft3) or in cubic metres (M). Customers will notice that they are billed for consumption using a rate described as kilowatt hours (kWh).

Details of the calculations and numbers used to produce the gas bill are provided on the bills.

  • The metric calculation for kWh equals (number of units used or meter reading) X (volume correction factor) X (calorific value) divided by 3.6.
  • The imperial calculation multiplies units consumed by 2.83 to give the number of cubic metres of gas used, which is then applied in the metric calculation.

For customers who have a digital meter, the white figures need reading from left to right, ignoring anything after a decimal point or in red.

For those with the dial meters, look at the first dial and jot down which number the hand is on.

If it is between numbers, jot down which of the hands is nearest. Note that some dials rotate in the opposite direction, so do check the reading is correct.

Only read the first five dials to give the five-digit meter reading.

electiricty meter with dials

How to Read Electricity Meters

An electric meter can be a standard meter that measures consumption in kilowatt hours, or a variable rate ('economy 7') meter. Like gas meters, the digital reading is the first five numbers from left to right.

For those with variable rate meters, read both sets of numbers (omitting the last number on each row) and submit them to the electricity supplier.

If a customer feels there is a problem with the meter, he should contact the supplier for further advice.

Customers who read their meters regularly are able to see energy consumption over time and this helps with decisions as to whether to switch suppliers. Nowadays, being able to compare gas and electricity prices is easier, allowing energy customers to search the market for the best deals.

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Energyseek have many other excellent energy consumer guides covering a wide range of subjects including fracking, solar power, understanding energy statements, how to avoid being overcharged, smart meters and many, many more - well worth a look!




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