Can you trust your gas meter or electricity meter? Hundreds of thousands of meters could be faulty

19 February 2016

Gas meter

We've found hundreds of thousands of meters could be faulty 

Hundreds of thousands of gas and electricity meters could be faulty, new Which? research reveals. 

We all rely on our gas or electricity meters to accurately measure hundreds of pounds’ worth of energy every year. 

But our exclusive research has revealed hundreds of thousands of meters across the country could be faulty. We’ve heard of meters running at double speed, dials turning when the gas supply is isolated and smart meters unable to communicate.

Find out how to spot a faulty meter - and whether you could be entitled to a refund.

Meters running too fast or slow

Gas meters approved under UK law must be within 2% accurate and electricity meters within +2.5% and -3.5% accurate. We’ve analysed Government figures to reveal that:

  • 24% of the gas meters tested every year since 2006 were faulty (21,243 gas meters tested), on average
  • 7% of the 2,345 electricity meters tested since 2003 were faulty, installed incorrectly, or not an approved type.

These are disputed gas and electricity meters – only tested because an error is already suspected – so the figures are not representative of Great Britain’s 53million meter population as a whole.

But that might not be the full story. We’ve seen three confidential National Grid reports, which show that under UK legislation:

  • 2014: 14% of 12,113 meters tested were inaccurate
  • 2010: 17% of 6,105 meters tested were inaccurate
  • 2007: 18% of 4,882 meters tested were inaccurate 

National Grid told us it reviewed the performance of its meters every year and meters would be removed if there were issues with specific models. It also said the figures were not representative of the overall meter population. 

If you have a faulty meter, tell us more about what happened on our faulty meter convo.

Other ways your gas or electricity meter could be faulty

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There are 3.9m households in Great Britain on a time-of-use tariff, such as Economy 7, which get cheaper electricity at certain times. These need a special type of meter with a clock.

But we’ve found 16% of Which? members* on one of these tariffs have found their meter clock is wrong. If that was true across all time-of-use meters in Great Britain, it would mean more than 600,000 meters could be wrong. 

Another problem is when smart meters can’t send automatic readings back to the supplier and start acting 'dumb'. The latest government figures show almost 9% could have lost their smart abilities.

See if a smart meter could help you save money and find out more about how they work.

*(Survey: 427 Which? members, spring 2014.)

What if my meter’s faulty?

Unusual bills or meter readings are usually the best clue to a faulty meter. If you think your meter is faulty, first contact your supplier – it is required to investigate.

Electricity meters are initially tested on-site, then sometimes sent away to an independent laboratory. Gas meters can’t easily be tested on-site so are likely to be sent straight to an independent lab.

The actual testing of meters is free but suppliers can charge for the cost of removing and replacing your disputed meter. These charges can vary by up to £262 and are only refunded if your meter is inaccurate. Find out more about your rights, how the different charges vary by supplier - and see if you could get a refund.  

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