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Meter Readings

Posted by The Bunch in December, 2020.

Sending regular meter readings is the best, and only, way for you to get accurate energy bills for your property. These readings are so important because they tell our energy suppliers exactly how much energy you have been using in your property, so they can bill you for exactly the right amount. Without these reads, the suppliers will bill your property on estimates. These are usually at least 30% higher than actual bills, so it’s really worth your while to send them in, and without a real read, we can’t challenge them on your behalf!

The most important meter readings you can send us are your opening meter reads, and the sooner you send them in the better. When you first move into a house, the energy supplier that was supplying the last tenants will still be supplying the property until we make the switch to our supplier. The old supplier will have put you on their most expensive tariff, so the quicker we can switch you to, the more money we can save for you.

Where can I find my meters?

Most meters are on the ground floor, where the energy enters the house. They could be under the stairs, in the hallway, in the kitchen, or in a cupboard. If you are in a block of flats they could also be in the basement. They can sometimes be inside a beige cabinet bolted or built into the outside walls of the house.

Quite often gas meters are located in these beige boxes on the outside of the house. The boxes should be open and if not there should be a meter box key within your property for you to open that box and access it. If not, your letting agent or landlord should provide one. Alternatively, you can buy meter box keys from most hardware shops for a few pence.

If you’re not sure, ask your landlord or agent to help you locate them. Once you’ve found them, make a note of where they are. If you tell us, we’ll record the information for other tenants to help them.

If they are inside the property, they could be under the stairs, in the hallway, in the kitchen, or in a cupboard. If you are in a block of flats they could also be in the basement. There might be several meters in the same area in flats, so make sure you are reading the right meter for your property.

Gas Meters

Your gas meters will look a little something like these:

Gas Meters

Quite often they have a yellow sticker on them, which helps to identify, although this is not 100% of cases. Gas is measured by the volume used, so you’ll see a message like m3 or ft3 or Vm near the reading.

Electric Meters

Your electric meter should look a little something like one of these:

Electric Meters

Electricity is measured in power, so you’ll see a message that says kWH near the reading.

How many meters will I have?

Most houses have two meters, one for electricity, and one for gas. However, if you’re in a block of flats, there may be a set of meters for each flat. You may also only have a single electric meter. A tell-tale sign is if you don’t have a gas cooker! Electric only supplies are more common in smaller flats or new builds. Finally some pseudo smart meters can read both gas and electricity, so if you can only find one meter with a keypad, this may do both. If you’re not sure, please check with your landlord or letting agent, and they can clarify this with you. Once you’ve found them, we suggest you label them with your flat/house if there are loads of them to make life easier in the future.

So I’ve found my meters, and know how many I have – what do I do now?

Given that reads are so important, you’d think that the energy companies would make it easy to read them, but sadly no. There are over 100 different types of meter out there, but thankfully they all fall into 3 types:

  1. Mechanical – dials or counters
  2. Digital – simple LCD numeric display
  3. Smart – LCD plus keypad, sometimes with a remote inside the house. We will detail how to read each of these in a second.

What do we need from you?

We need two things for each meter:

  1. The actual read in number. Some electric meters (Economy 7 produce two reads, and we need both)
  2. A photo from your phone of the meter, showing the read and the meter serial number (barcode), so we can verify it’s the right meter and your readings. It also provides evidence in disputes. The photograph needs to be clear, in focus and head on to the meter to be useful, so please check this before sending it to us. It’s best to capture the entire meter, not just the read, and you may also need to use flash to get it bright enough too.

So, let’s read that meter!

Mechanical meters (dials)

These are just weird! Just do you best, going left to right, ignoring the last red dial, but send us a photo and we can make sure it’s correct (Our supplier OVO has some more help if you need it: https://www.ovoenergy.com/help/meter-readings#how-do-i-read-my-meter)

Mechanical meters (counters)

These are much easier. Just provide the numbers, including the leading zeros, but ignore the last red digit.

If you have an economy 7 meter, it will have two counters. Read them as before, but label each read with what the meter says – Day, Normal R1, or Night, Low, R2. ( Again our supplier OVO has some more help if you need it: https://www.ovoenergy.com/help/meter-readings#how-do-i-read-my-meter)

Digital meters

These are usually straight forwards. Just provide the numbers, including the leading zeros, but ignore the digit after the decimal dot. It gets a bit more complicated if you have an Economy 7 electric supply. We need two reads, normally labelled in a small LCD flag as “R1” and ”R2” The display normally shows the “R1” read, but you will have to press a button for it to display the “R2” read. Normally the button is blue and labelled, but you can push any button, nothing bad will happen. Just photograph each screen if you are unsure, and we’ll sort it out. If you have an economy 7 meter, it will have two counters. Read them as normal, but label each read with what the meter says – Day, Normal R1, or Night, Low, R2. ( Again our supplier OVO has some more help if you need it: https://www.ovoenergy.com/help/meter-readings#how-do-i-read-my-meter)

Smart meters

Smart meters are in fact mostly stupid meters! It was a great idea, but the vast majority of smart meters out there are called SMET 1’s and have stopped properly working years ago. They are slowly being replaced or updated to SMET 2’s which will work as advertised, but the majority of rented accommodation, if they have them, has the old SMET 1’s sadly. So, we still need the reads, and to confuse us, these meters can produce up to 20 reads, of which normally only one is useful. Here’s how to get that read:

  1. On the keypad, press the number 9 button
  2. The display will start to cycle through all the possible reads. It usually displays a label, then a read If you miss a read, press the number 9 button to start the cycle again.
  3. On an electric meter, we need the reading after the label “Input kWH” The reading will have a flag with kWH, a lightning symbol and possibly “R1”.
  4. If you have an economy 7 meter, you will also get a read with “R2” in it.
  5. To confuse you the meter will also show you reads with kVH in it, and “£” and months and all sorts. These reads are junk, you can ignore them
  6. If it’s a gas meter, or combined meter, the process is the same, but the label will probably read “Volume consumed” and the read we need has a flame symbol and a “v3” symbol
  7. If you have a remote, you can also get these figures from the comfort of your living room, but remember we need the cumulative kWH figure for the electricity, and the cumulative m3 or volume for the gas. Monthly figures, prices, using now figures etc are not useful. Sorry.

Phew! We know it looks really complicated, but once you get a handle on it, it’s not too bad. Some of our tenants just video the whole stream of screens for us, and that’s fine, we’ll decipher them for you. As a note, the costs shown are based on the rates the original energy company provided back in 2007 or so, when they were fitted so please ignore them, they will not be accurate!

Having issues?

If you are still unsure on how to read your meter, the best thing to do is just to drop us a call on 0333 358 3377 or email us on reads@the-bunch.co.uk. We would be happy to talk you through it! We will be asking for your meter readings every month, so it’s really worth finding out how to do this sooner rather than later.