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Household meters - How to read them

With boxes to unpack and furniture to put together, moving house can be stressful enough without trying to master how to read an unfamiliar meter.

Whether it’s for your gas, electricity or even water supply, here’s a quick guide to reading your new meter, so you can worry about more important things.

What types of meter are there, and how do you read them?

There are many different types of meter, including dial, digital, electronic, smart and dial meters. The type of meter you have will depend on your utility company, and how recently the meter was installed.

To read your meter, first you’ll need to find the numbers which are either shown on an analogue or digital display. If they’re digital, you may have to press a button to see the numbers in the display. Then simply:

  1. Write down the numbers you see, from left to right
  2. Ignore numbers that are red, surrounded by red, or those that are shown after a decimal point

If you pay a lower price for off-peak energy, you may have an Economy 7, Domestic Economy or another specialist meter, which has two rows of numbers. If this is the case, repeat the steps above for both rows - one represents your off-peak rate, and the other your on-peak rate.

An off-peak rate is when power costs less, which is usually during one overnight block. Generally speaking, off-peak hours are from 11pm to 7.30am but this differs across the country and depending on the type of meter you have. The on-peak and off-peak times are often written on the side of the meter, while you should contact your particular energy company if they’re not and if you want specific details. 

If you have an older dial meter, the numbers you need will be marked with a pointer. Here’s how to read them:

  • If the pointer is in between two numbers, write the lowest number down
  • If it’s between 9 and 0, write down 9, but reduce the previous number by one
  • Don't read the last dial on the right

 If you’re not sure how to read your meter, call your energy company and they will be able to talk you through the reading.

Finally, if you have a pay as you go meter, you can find out how much credit you have left by pressing the button and reading the display.

Why is it important to take your meter readings?

When moving house, you’ll need to notify your energy company of your meter readings on the day you move - both from the house you have moved from, and the new home you are moving to. This ensures sure your final bills are accurate, and you’re not overpaying. Most energy companies now have online portals where you can log your readings, without having to phone.

If you’re moving to a new build house, it’s likely you’ll have a smart meter. Smart meters send energy companies your readings automatically in real-time, so you won’t have to take readings yourself and can pay for energy used instead of using estimates.

 
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