Avoid the dangers of estimated bills with our guide on how to read your gas and electricity meters.
How to read your gas and electricity meters
We take a look at how to read and understand the readings on your gas and electricity meters, and how you can benefit.
How do I read a standard meter?
If you don't understand what you're seeing when you read your electricity or gas meter then it can be hard to work out whether you're being billed correctly or whether you're on the best tariff.
The cheapest deals these days tend to be online tariffs, allowing the householder to read their own meter. That means their bills are more accurate than an estimate, which ensures there will be no unpleasant billing surprises in the future.
Of course, to benefit from this, you need to be able to read your meter.
Most homes are fitted with an electromechanical induction meter but don't let the name put you off, it really isn't a complicated affair. There is an aluminium disc that rotates as your home uses energy and the meter simply records the number of times it turns.
There are three types of displays these meters may use - standard, digital and dial.
Reading a standard display
You should be looking at a mechanical display with red and black numbers on it. Ignore the red numbers and read the black digits from left to right.
Reading a digital meter display
If it has just one display, then this is one of the easiest to follow. Simply write down the numbers shown from left to right and ignore the figure at the end, which will be red.
If your digital meter has two displays it means you are on an Economy 7 meter, which we explain below.
The top numbers will be showing the off-peak electricity you use, so it will be marked 'low', 'night' or 'rate 1'.
Then the below numbers represent your normal rate electricity and will be marked 'normal', 'day' or 'rate 2'. Again, simply note down both numbers and discard the red numbers at the end.
**Reading a dial meter **
These are the meters that strike fear into the hearts of many bill payers but they are much simpler than they look.
Move from right to left and note down the number each dial is turned to. If it is between two numbers then go with the lower number, i.e. the one it has just passed. If the next number is nine, or between nine and zero, you should reduce the number before it by one.
For example, if the dial read '2, 6, 4, 9, 8', you'd write down '26398'.
**A warning **
Taking your own readings is a great way to avoid the dangers of estimated bills but you should still make sure a technician comes out at least once a year to verify what you've read.
With thanks to Moneysupermarket.com