Types of Meter
There are two types of meter in common use in households.
The majority of customers have a credit meter which records the amount of gas you use. Gas consumption is measured in units, i.e. hundreds of cubic feet for imperial meters. These gas units need to be multiplied by approximately 31.3 to convert from the units used according to the meter or bill into kilowatt-hours. Exact conversion figures from gas units to kilowatt hours for imperial meters are as follows:
- Multiply your units used by 2.83 to give you the number of cubic metres of gas used. (If you have a newer metric meter measuring gas in cubic metres you do not need to do this).
- Multiply by the temperature and pressure figure (1.02264).
- Multiply by colorific value (39.25)
- Divide by 3.6 to get the number of kilowatt hours (kWh)
You should find all these figures laid out on your gas bill.
With a credit meter you will receive a quarterly bill and someone will come and read your meter every six months. Estimated bills will be send out when there has not been a reading and you can call and give your actual reading for a more accurate bill.
When giving a meter reading, you may need your MPRN (Gas Meter Point Reference Number. This is the unique identifying number for your gas meter. It is a ten digit number and can be found on your gas bill.
It is sometimes referred to as a ‘M’ number.
With this type of meter, you pay for your gas before you use it. Coinless prepayment (‘smartcard’) meters have replaced token, key and coin meters.
You charge your card with a certain amount of credit and the meter records the amount of gas you have used.
Your gas supplier can tell you where you can get you card or key charged.
How to Read Meters
To read a digital type meter, only use the white figures. Ignore any numbers in red or after a decimal point.
If your gas meter has a standard numeric display with six digits, simply read off the first four digits for your reading.
Dial or ‘clock’ type meters
- Look at each individual dial to see where each hand is pointing.
- Copy down the number the hand in the first dial is pointing at and move on to the next dial for the next number. If any hand is in between numbers, note down the lower of the pair (for example, if the hand is between eight and nine, read this dial as ‘eight’).
- Remember that each dial rotates in the opposite direction to the dial preceding it, so be sure to check that you are reading the numbers the right way.
- You should have one number written down for each dial.
- Ignore the number in the very last dial (usually set below the others), and this should give you a five digit reading overall.
All meters used in the UK have to be approved and verified by Ofgem and meet certain accuracy limits before they can be used for billing. The owner of the meter has to ensure that the meter is accurate and if there is any dispute from either the consumer or the supplier as to the accuracy of a meter reading then Ofgem will provide a service to test and certify the meter.
If you think that your meter is not working correctly then you should contact your supplier. You may be asked to test meter by recording readings over a week. If there still seems to be a problem then National Grid (formerly Transo) will be contacted by you supplier and they will come out to test and replace your meter if necessary. The test will cost approximately £90 but you will be refunded if the meter is in fact faulty.
If the meter needs further testing it will be sent to SGS, an Ofgem contracted company and the results will be sent to you, the supplier and the owner of the meter. It has to be accurate within 2% of the exact gas amount being used. If the meter is accurate you will be responsible for the costs but if it is found inaccurate then you will be refunded the test costs. Always make sure you note your meter serial number and its reading before it is removed to avoid any unnecessary disputes.
A large percentage of meters sent to Ofgem for testing are actually accurate so to save on unnecessary testing costs, official testing should be a last resort.