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How to read your electric and gas meters: Step-by-step

We cover how to read different types of energy meters in your home.

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Understanding your energy, one meter at a time

Understanding your energy, one meter at a time

Understanding the meter type you have and exactly how to read it is just as important as have your gas and electric bills explained to you. 

Understanding your power bill and your meter - whatever the type you own - are crucial steps in becoming completely energy competent. Once you understand the basics, you are better prepared to spot problems with your energy bill, along with knowing when you’re being charged too much and it’s time to find a new energy supplier. 

We want to start by walking you through your meter type. We include some vital information you’re going to need if you want to know how to read gas and electric meters.

How to read different types of energy meters

Submitting your energy reading three working days before your energy bill comes out is a good way to ensure that you are correctly billed for your energy usage. Otherwise, your energy supplier will estimate your usage and either charge you too much or too little; should the latter happen then it is likely that your supplier will charge you for the shortfall at a later date.

Some old-fashioned meters like dial meters can be tricky to read, and they require being read in a particular way. Thankfully, our simplified guide will show you how to read any kind of meter found in your home. 

How to read different types of energy meters

We’re going to show you how to read your gas and electric meters with the help of a few of our homemade images. We’ll first start off with how to read your electric meter, and then go on to help explain how to read your gas meter.

How to read your electric and gas meters: Electricity meter types

This section identifies the different types of electricity meters, one of which you will certainly find installed within your household — or mounted outside of it.

Electricity meters located inside your home will be inside a mounted box that will likely be located in a utility room, laundry room, garage, basement, or attic.

If you live in a flat, then it is likely that all the meters for each flat will be located in one place (e.g. a shared utility room). Each meter will be labelled to indicate which flat it is connected to, but if this isn’t the case then can contact your landlord or letting agent.

If it’s outside, it will be in a wall-mounted box in a place where the power converges into your household.

How to read your digital single rate meter

These meters can be identified by looking for a phrase like ‘single rate’ or ‘single phase’ on the front.

All you have to do is read and record the numbers from left to right; make sure you include all the preceding zeros as well.

Digital single rate meter

How to read your digital two rate digital meters (single display)

Economy 7 and Economy 10 meters require two readings, as a day time reading and a night time reading is required for these types of tariffs (also known as differential tariffs).

You can identify these meters by looking for a phrase like ‘multi rate’ or ‘multi single phase’ on the front.

In order to distinguish between the day time reading and night time reading, look for the small number in the far left of the display that indicates which reading it is. Make sure you submit both readings to your supplier.

Digital two rate meter

How to read your mechanical digital single rate meter

These meters have counters that are mechanically operated. Simply read the numbers from left to right, but do not include the numbers in red or any numbers after the decimal point.

Mechanical digital single rate meter

How to read your mechanical digital two rate meter

There are two long numbers featured on these, which also provide night and day readings; these are sometimes labelled as ‘low’ and ‘normal’.

Just as you would for the single rate meter, record the numbers from left to right but do not include the numbers in red or any numbers after the decimal point.

Mechanical digital two rate meter

How to read your mechanical dial meter

These meters are older and use dials to indicate the number; the place value is indicated above the dial.

To read this type of electricity meter, simply read the numbers on each black dial (from left to right). You do not need to read the number shown on the red dial.

Here are important things to remember when reading this type of electricity meter:

  • If the pointer is between two numbers, then record the lowest number
  • However, if the number is between 0 and 9, always write down 9
  • If the pointer is pointing directly to a number, underline it
  • If a 9 comes right after an underlined number, then subtract 1 from the underlined number
Mechanical dial meter

How to read your electric and gas meters: Gas meter types

Gas meters located inside are normally found inside a kitchen (it will normally be concealed in a cupboard) or a hallway, and will most likely be inside a mounted meter cupboard or a meter box.

If you live inside a flat, then there will be multiple gas meters located in a single place, such as a shared utility room. Each meter should be clearly identified, but if you aren’t sure then ask your neighbour, letting agent, or landlord.

How to read your digital metric meter

Record the five numbers from left to right (including the zeros), but not include the numbers in red or any numbers after the decimal point.

‘Metric’ refers to the unit of measurement in which the gas is presented. In the case of this meter, the reading is provided in cubic metres (m³).

Digital metric meter

How to read your digital imperial meter

This is very similar to a digital metric gas meter, except there are four numbers and the unit of measurement is provided in cubic feet (ft³).

Make sure to include the zeros, but disregard the red numbers and the dial on the right.

Digital imperial meter

How to read your dial meter

To submit your reading, simply read the numbers indicated on the dials from left to right and ignore the red dials.

The same principles apply to reading dial gas meters as to dial electric meters, and they are as follows:

  • If the pointer is between two numbers, then record the lowest number
  • However, if the number is between 0 and 9, always write down 9
  • If the pointer is pointing directly to a number, underline it
  • If a 9 comes right after an underlined number, then subtract 1 from the underlined number

These meters will always measure gas usage in cubic feet (ft³).

Couldn't find what you were after? Check out our other guides on meter types, such as How to read your smart meter: Step-by-step and Should I get a smart meter: A complete buyer's guide. 

Or if you're quite comfortable reading the numbers on your electric and gas meters but you're having trouble identifying the meter supply numbers on your utility bill, give our guide Your meter supply numbers explained a read.

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