Types of gas and electric meter

Digital energy meter

Take regular meter readings to ensure accurate utility bills

Some energy tariffs require to provide meter readings every month or quarter to your energy supplier - but whatever tariff you're on, it's sensible to regularly read your gas and electric meters, to ensure you receive accurate bills based on your actual usage. 

You will also need to read your meters if you move house, or switch gas or electricity supplier. For step-by-step help on how to do this, see our how to read your gas meter and how to read your electricity meter guides. 

Below we've outlined the main types of gas and electric meter you'll find.

Standard gas and electricity meters

There are lots of different types and designs of gas and electric meter, depending on the age and location of your property - but all should clearly display a number indicating your latest energy use.

Your energy supplier must read your meter every two years, but we recommend you read and submit your own meter every three months. Take a note of the reading and the date when it was taken. Your gas and electricity meter numbers will be displayed on your energy bill.

Contact your energy supplier if you want the accuracy of your meter tested. It may charge a fee for this.

Prepayment energy meters

Prepayment meter

Prepayment meter customers pay for energy in advance

To use a prepayment meter, you'll need to go to an outlet to charge (add credit) to your card or key, or to buy tokens. Your charging device is then inserted into the front of your prepayment meter.

The display window on the front of the meter can show a range of information including: 

  • Units of energy consumed
  • Any fixed charge the energy supplier charges
  • The rate per unit of fuel
  • The amount of credit inserted
  • Current credit
  • Any outstanding debt
  • Any debt repayments
  • Emergency credit

When the energy meter runs out of credit, the gas or electricity supply is automatically stopped.

You'll be sent energy statements either quarterly or annually. These will show how much energy you've used and at what price, any debt that has been paid back, any outstanding debts and meter readings.

Smart energy meters

Smart meter

Smart meters allow suppliers to track electricity and gas use remotely

Smart meters enable energy suppliers to record how much electricity and gas you're using remotely - doing away with the need for estimated bills and meter readings.

The government is rolling out smart meters nationally between 2014 and 2019 - see our guide to the smart meter roll out for more information. Your energy company will contact you to arrange installation of a smart meter. Additionally some energy companies - such as First Utility - have already started to install smart meters in certain households ahead of the official start date, and offer smart energy tariffs.

You can find out more about smart meters, and why Which? is asking energy companies to sign up to our 'No selling, just installing' smart meter promise.

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Cut your energy bills with Which? Switch

The average saving when switching gas and electricity is £204 - compare gas and electricity tariffs now to find the best deal for you.

This figure is the average estimated annual saving for customers who applied to switch suppliers through Which? Switch between 1 January 2014 and 31 March 2014.

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