How to read my energy meter

Your gas and electricity meters keep a running total of the amount of energy that you have used. The most effective way to make sure that your bills are as up to date and accurate as they can be, is to provide regular meter readings.

Providing readings will make sure that you avoid estimated billing. This can cause you to be over or undercharged on your usage, both are bad. Being overcharged means that you are paying more than you need to, which could hinder your monthly budgeting. Being undercharged means that you will be building a debt with your energy provider.

Electricity Meter

There are a number of electricity meter types. Some you may be familiar with, but others may seem incomprehensible. Below you will find a guide to reading the most common meter types in the UK:

Smart Meter- When it comes to readings, smart meters have the upper hand. Meter readings are sent directly to your energy provider at pre-set intervals. This means that you will never need to provide meter readings or suffer estimated billing. That said, they do not always operate correctly. Some models won’t work across different energy providers and other locations cannot connect with the network. In these instances, you will need to provide meter readings manually to your provider. Although this can be an inconvenience, the electronic display is easy to read. Simply provide your energy provider with the five-digit number, usually followed by KW/h.

Single Rate Digital Meter- These meters are common across the breadth of the UK. When looking at this type of meter you have five numeric digits in black and white, and possibly a sixth red digit (sometimes more than 1). To read this type of meter you can completely disregard the red digit(s) and focus on the first five. Read this from left to right when giving your energy provider this reading.

Two Rate Digital Meter- Set out in exactly the same format as the single rate variant, except this time you will have two rows of numbers. You will have one of these meters installed if your tariff provides for different charging rates for your energy. For example, you may pay less for energy used overnight or during ‘off-peak’ hours. If this is the case your rows will be labelled ‘low/night’ and ‘normal/day’. When providing readings for this type of meter, you will enter both rows. They are to be read in the exact same way as before, from left to right and ignoring digits in red.

Two Rate Single Display Meter- This is a more simplified and modern version of the Two Rate digital meter. With this type you are presented with one display containing two rows. They are usually labelled ‘Rate 1’ and ‘Rate 2’. Each row will contain a five-digit number which is a running total of the energy you have used for each rate. If you have a two-rate deal but can only see one row on your display, press the ‘cycle’ or ‘next’ button. This will scroll through your readings.

Dial Meter- These types are the oldest still in operation around the UK. Many do still exist and they can be daunting to read if you have never seen one before. The principles needed to read these meters are the same as all the others.

The problem comes in the dials themselves. These types have a row of ‘clock faces’, with one hand and numbers from zero to nine. You need to take each dial as its own digit. So the first dial makes up our first digit and so on. When we have read the first five dials, we will have our five-digit number to pass on to the energy provider. When reading a dial, note the number the hand is pointing at. If it is not exactly at a number, record which one it has just passed.

Gas Meter

Digital display Meter- Some digital display meters are smart meters and will relay your readings to your provider via your electricity meter. In these cases, you do not need to provide any meter readings. When this is not the case, you simply need to provide the first five digits on your display. Ignore everything after the decimal point.

Digital Imperial Meter- You will see four (not five like electricity meters) black and white numbers followed by two numbers in red. Write down the first four black and white numbers, this is the meter reading that you will send to your provider. Ignore the numbers in red.

Dial Meter- You will have four or more dials with the exact same set up as the electrical equivalent. You only need to provide the first four digits, read from left to right. When reading each dial, note the number that your pointer is on or has just passed.


Hi, I'm Rob and I run I initially started this project 5 years ago when I was looking to switch energy suppliers and found there wasn't a website that provided simple, data backed reviews on all the suppliers available. Since then, I spent have a lot of time (too much some may say!) looking at all publicly available data about each supplier and writing reviews using this information. These reviews are updated as regularly as possible and any data is backed up by a source where necessary. I have also started writing guides on various energy related topics which hopefully you will find useful. If you find any issues, please use our contact form to let us know.

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