Meter Types and How To Read Them

  • In order to make sure you understand how much energy you are using, it is vital to take readings from your meters regularly and give these to your energy supplier. Money Pug’s comparison site makes it easier for you to switch supplier when the right time comes to do so. But we also aim to help you get on top of your energy use and understand what is going on. So we have put together this guide to meter types, and how to read them.
  • First of all – why is it so important to read your meter and provide regular meter readings? Well, if you do not, you could end up either overpaying or underpaying for the energy you use. Under paying may not sound like a bad thing. But if you have been underpaying for some time, you may suddenly be hit with a large and unexpected bill, which you may not even be able to pay all in one go.
  • The process of reading your meter is easier than you might imagine. To help you, here is some information about each of the meter types and how to read them:

Electricity Meters

Obviously, an electricity meter is a meter that will tell you and your energy supplier how much electricity you are using. There are five main types of electric meters. The method for taking a reading will depend on the model as each one displays the information slightly differently. 

The five main types are:

Standard Meters

These are electric mechanical meters, and are the most common type found in homes in the UK. They use a mechanical display to show you your energy usage. You must record the five black numbers from left to right (ignore any red numbers, if these are present). Simply write down this five digit number and provide the reading to your energy supplier.

Dial Meters

Dial meters look like small clocks, and are somewhat more complex. When you are reading a meter of this sort, you have to remember that dials next to each other go round in opposite directions. Read the numbers on the dials from left to right, ignoring the last red dial if there is one. You should also ignore any dials without figures or hands. If the needle is between two figures, write down the number that the dial has just passed. 

Now comes the slightly complicated bit. You need to look at the numbers you have noted down and make allowances for any small variations in the positions of the pointers. For example, say the pointer is directly over the number, write it down and underline it. If the next number in the sequence is a 9, reduce the figure you have underlined from, say, 3 to 2. 

Digital Meters

Digital meters are generally easier to read. They give you numbers displayed on a digital screen. Simply note down the first five figures on the digital screen. Note that you may need to press a button to get the figure to display. Ignore any last figure that begins 0.1.

Economy 7 Meters

There are two different types of meter for those on an Economy 7 tariff. Economy 7 tariffs are plans that offer two different rates – one for daytime energy use and another, lower rate for energy used during the night. The first type of Economy 7 meter has two displays – the top row for ‘day rate’ and the bottom row, for lower ‘night rate’. The second type has a single row of numbers, and displays your day rate. Press a red button on these meters and the night rate will be displayed. 

Prepayment Meters

If you are on a prepayment plan then you will have a prepayment meter. Standard prepayment meters can be of the two types as described above under the section on Economy 7 meters. Token meters are generally digital meters, as described above. 

To take a meter reading on a prepayment meter, you will usually have to press the (often blue) button. This will alter the display from showing the remaining credit on the meter to showing the reading. From that stage, you can proceed to read your meter as above. 

Gas Meters

Gas meters, as the name suggests, tell consumers and the energy supplier how much gas a household is using. Obviously, if you only have electricity in your home then a gas meter is not something that you will have to worry about – you won’t have one. As with the electricity meters, it is important to take readings so your supplier is not basing your gas bill on estimates.

Smart Meters

Smart meters are the latest type of meter technology. They are expected to be offered to all households by 2024. Smart meters may not be for you. But they do have a number of advantages over the other types of meters included above. The main benefit is that a smart meter will automatically ‘talk’ to your energy supplier. You will not have to read the meter and submit meter readings as this will be done automatically. This can mean that your bills will be much more accurate. There will be no need for the bills to be based on estimates of energy consumption. 

  • Check out our smart meter guide to find out more. 
  • Once you have read your meter (or had a smart meter installed) you will have all the information you need to make sure you are not paying more than you need to pay for your energy. Compare your options with Money Pug to see whether it is a good idea for you to switch and get a better deal on the energy that you use. 

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