The Complete Guide to Electric Meters

11th January 2022

The Complete Guide to Electric Meters

Electric Meters are extremely common place in many residential properties, and understanding how the meter works as well as being able to obtain readings from the meters is important to track electricity usage and therefore track your electricity bills effectively.

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What Is The Purpose Of An Electric Meter?

In simple terms, an Electric Meter shows the amount of energy a property uses. This is measured by tracking a combination of instantaneous voltage and current, which allows the meter to count the number of kilowatts used at any given time. Electricity providers then use these readings to calculate your bill, using their own metric of unit cost in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

How Often Should I Submit A Meter Reading?

How often you submit a meter reading to your supplier depends on how often you pay your electricity bill, as taking a reading as close to your payment date as possible provides the most accurate level of usage in that payment period.

According to Compare The Market¹: “Unless you’re on a smart meter, you should submit a meter reading every month, two days or so before your payment date, to make sure your bills are accurate.”. In the case of those who choose to pay their bill quarterly, Compare The Market state that: “If you pay quarterly…you’ll only need to take meter readings every three months.”

If meter readings are not submitted regularly or when requested by your supplier, your bill will be based on estimation and what is often referred to as a “best guess”. Therefore, it is in your best interest to submit a meter reading when recommended or necessary.

Where Is My Electric Meter?

Every home will have its Electric Meter stored in a different place, but in most cases, they will be stored amongst your other household electrics such as your fuse box, close to where the electrical supply enters your home. The most common places for these devices to be located include storage cupboards, garages or even basements in older homes.

If you live in a multiple occupancy building, every resident may have a meter in their residence in the applicable locations previously mentioned, or all occupants’ Electric Meters will be stored in one room.

How To Read An Electric Meter

There are several types of Electric Meters out there, all with slight differences in terms of display, therefore slightly differences in how to take a reading. Here is how to take a reading from each type of Electric Meter:

·         Single Rate Digital Meter: The format of a Single Rate Digital Meter consists of 5 numbers in black or white, possibly followed by 1 or more red numbers. To take a reading from this type of meter, you simply read 5 black or white numbers from left to right, and ignore any red numbers on the meter.

·         Two Rate Digital Meter: Sometimes referred to as a Dual Rate Electric Meter, both ratings need to be provided to the supplier. The top row will be labelled as low or night, and the bottom row will be labelled normal or day. The top row indicates how much cheaper electricity you have used, compared with the amount of standard electricity you have used on the bottom row. Read both rows from left to right and just like with the Single Rate Meter, ignore the red numbers. In the case of Two Rate Single Display Meters, both reading still need to be provided, they will either flash up on your meter one at a time or a button many have to be pressed to access both readings.

·         Dial Meter: If your meter is a bit older, it might be displayed to you in the form of 5 dials. These dials will turn in an alternating pattern of clockwise/anticlockwise or anticlockwise/clockwise (depending on your specific dial) to point to numbers between 0 and 9. It is important to check the pattern of your dials before you begin taking a reading.



Citizens Advice² provides this procedure for reading Dial Meters:


1.       Read the first 5 dials from left to right - ignore any red dials or dials marked 1/10.

2.       If the pointer is between two numbers, write down the lower number - if it’s between 9 and 0, write down 9.

3.       If the pointer is directly over a number, write down that number and underline it.


If you’ve underlined a number, check the next dial to the right. If the pointer on that dial is between 9 and 0, reduce the number you’ve underlined by 1. For example, if you originally wrote down 5, change it to 4.


Providing a meter reading to your supplier is vital to ensure that your electricity bills are fair and accurate every time, and with this guide, when the time rolls around to provide a reading, no matter what meter you have, you’ll know exactly what to do.




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