Gas and electricity meters explained - Which? (2023)

Your gas and electricity meters are the key to getting accurate energy bills. Find out what type you have, if you need to read your meter, and what you need to know about different gas and electricity meters to keep your energy costs in check.

Your meters are there to record how much gas and electricity you use. Your energy company bases your bills on them. But if they don’t get regular meter readings, they’ll estimate your bills instead.

Making sure that your energy firm has recent meter readings is the key to getting accurate bills or keeping your direct debit in check.

If you move home it’s important to read your gas and electricity meters shortly before you move out of your old place and as soon as you move into your new one to ensure you only pay for the energy you have used.

Gas and electricity meters explained - Which? (1)

Plus giving regular meter readings could help alert you and your energy supplier if there’s a fault. If you’re concerned about this, keep reading to find out what steps to take.

Keeping an eye on your meter will also help you know how much gas and electricity you’re using to help:

  • Reduce your energy bill by finding ways to save
  • Reduce your carbon footprint
  • Make it easier to spot if your meters are faulty

Smart meters makethis easierbut it’s still possible to do this without them.

Don't pay more for energy than you need to – compare gas and electricity prices with our independent energy switching site Which? Switch.

Electric meter and gas meter readings

Gas and electricity meters explained - Which? (2)

Smart electric meters and smart gas meters should send your meter readings to your energy supplier automatically. Many in-home displays will also show your meter readings (you may need to scroll through the menus) to save you going outside or into a tight cupboard to access your meter.

If your smart meter isn’t sending automatic meter readings, or you want to check, you still take a reading manually. How you see the reading depends on the meter. If it’s not immediately visible, you may need to press a button. Check your supplier’s website for instructions or contact it if you’re unsure.

Traditional gas and electricity meters require you to take a reading from the front of the meter. Read our guides to how to read your electric meter and how to read your gas meter.

If you’re not able to read your meter safely, for example because it’s not accessible for you, contact your energy firm for help.

How to identify your gas meter and electricity meter

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

(Video) Smart Meter 101

Not sure what type of gas and electricity meter you have? Scroll through the images to see the main types of gas and electric meters in the UK.

You’ll typically find your gas and electricity meters in boxes outside your home, under the stairs, or in kitchen cupboards. If you live in a flat, your meters might be located in a communal cupboard or the basement.

Smart meters

Smart meters enable your energy supplier to record your gas and electricity use remotely. You won’t need to send meter readings and your bills need not be based on estimates.

More than 22m smart meters have been installed in homes – that’s around 42% of all meters in homes. Energy companies are aiming to install smart meters in all homes. You’ll be contacted to arrange your installation, or you can ask your energy firm to book an appointment.

Smart meters enable time-of-use tariffs (where you’re charged different amounts for electricity used at different times of day, similar to Economy 7 tariffs). They can be set up in ‘credit mode’ (if you pay by direct debit or when you get a bill) or ‘prepayment mode’.

Find out more about smart meters including what to do if your energy company can’t read your smart meter.

Traditional electricity meters and gas meters

Gas and electricity meters explained - Which? (10)

All gas and electric meters should clearly display a set of numbers showing your energy use to date. This might be a digital display, rotating dials or clock-style dials.

Traditional meters won’t send your meter readings to your supplier automatically. So you’ll need to send them, or contact your energy supplier for help if you are unable to do so.

We recommend that you submit meter readings every month, or every three months as a minimum. Take a note of the reading and date it was taken. Or take a photo of your meter. This means you’ll have evidence of the reading in future, just in case.

(Video) Why I Regret Having a Smart Meter Fitted & Be Careful of Energy Comparison Sites

In the past, energy suppliers had to read your meter every two years. This rule was scrapped in 2016.

See other ways save money on your energy bill.

Prepayment meters for gas and electricity

Gas and electricity meters explained - Which? (11)

Prepayment meters require you to top-up before you can use gas and electricity.

You used to go to a shop to top-up your card or key, or to buy tokens. You added the credit to your meter by inserting your key, card or tokens into the front of your prepayment meter. But now you can top-up remotely with many energy firms, especially if you have a smart prepayment meter.

Top-up is usually available via your energy provider's website, app, or over the phone. This makes pay-as-you-go energy much more convenient than previously, though your electricity or gas can still cut-off if you run out of credit, unlike customers who pay by direct debit or when they get a bill..

Find out whether a prepayment meter is right for you, including how to change your prepayment meter to direct debit. Check our energy supplier reviews to see whether they supply prepayment meter customers and if you can get friendly or emergency credit.

Economy 7 meters

Economy 7 meters track daytime and night-time electricity use separately. Coupled with an Economy 7 tariff, they can help save money on power used overnight. They’re often found in homes with electric central heating and storage heaters.

Economy 7 meters provide two readings:

  • One for more expensive electricity used during the day
  • The other for cheaper night usage.

Different meters label the two rates in different ways.

If you have an Economy 7 meter and tariff, make sure that you’re making the most of them. Using less than 30% of your electricity during the cheaper night-time hours could mean that you’d pay less on a single-rate electricity tariff (where the charges are the same, regardless of time).

Check your latest bill or your online account to see how much electricity you’re using at the different rates. To access a single-rate tariff you might need your energy firm to replace your meter or sometimes your two meter readings can be added together.

It’s also worth checking that the clock on your meter is telling the correct time. If not, then you could be using electricity at a higher rate than you realise.

Reach out to your energy supplier if you’re unsure of your cheaper hours or think your meter’s clock is incorrect.

Find out more about Economy 7 tariffs and how to get the best energy deal.

Economy 10 meters
Gas and electricity meters explained - Which? (12)
(Video) Explanation of how kilowatt-hour meters work (electromechanical)

Like Economy 7, Economy 10 meters record how much electricity you use at ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ times. Economy 10 tariffs then charge different rates for these.

But Economy 10 gives 10 hours of cheaper electricity – usually in three blocks. These are often overnight or very early morning, late evening and mid-afternoon.

In Scotland, these meters are often referred to as ‘white meters’. They’re also called Heatwise.

To make the most of your Economy 10 meter, you should try to use as much electricity as possible at the times when it’s cheaper for you. Economy 10 times vary depending on where you live and your energy supplier.

Check with your energy firm if you’re not sure when yours are.

Economy 10 tariffs don’t work with existing smart meters and many energy firms don’t sell tariffs for them.

Read our tips onhow to use less electricity.

What to do if you think your electric or gas meter is faulty

Gas and electricity meters explained - Which? (13)

Unusual bills or meter readings are often the best clue to a faulty meter.

If you suspect your meter is faulty, record regular meter readings to help prove your case. If you have a smart meter that’s taking daily meter readings then you may be able to track your usage in your online account or app.

You can also try turning off all your appliances and watching your meter. It shouldn’t still be registering significant amounts of energy.

If you have a smart meter, you can use your in-home display (IHD) to help check your real-time energy use. It isn’t a fool-proof way of checking meter accuracy, but it can be a helpful guide if you already have suspicions.

Gas meters approved under UK law must be within 2% accurate and electricity meters within +2.5% and -3.5% accurate.

Contact your energy supplier if you think your meter is faulty. Energy firms have a legal obligation to ensure all gas and electricity meters are accurate. So they must investigate.

Meters can be tested at your home or sent away to an independent laboratory. The actual testing is free but suppliers can charge for the cost of removing and replacing your meter. Some reimburse the cost if the meter is found to be inaccurate. Find out more in our consumer rights guide to faulty meters.

It’s also worth checking that the unique identification number of your meter matches your bill. Occasionally these can get muddled, especially if your meter is in a cupboard with lots of others. Look for:

  • Gas meter: Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN)
  • Electricity meter: Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN)


Which reading is gas and which is electricity? ›

It can be easy to get them confused. Your electricity meter will have five numbers before the decimal point, and kilowatt hours or kWh will be written next to it. Older gas meters will show that they measure in cubic feet (ft3) and will have four numbers before the decimal point.

How do I read my gas and electricity meters? ›

To read the meter: Read the first 4 dials from left to right - ignore the large dials or red dials. If the pointer is between two numbers, write down the lower number - if it's between 9 and 0, write down 9. If the pointer is directly over a number, write down that number.

Do I give my gas reading as M3 or kWh? ›

Check your meter says 'M3' after the reading. If it says 'KWH' it's an electricity meter. If you're not sure if it's a smart meter, it might be a standard meter instead. Check how to read a standard gas meter.

Should I get a smart meter 2022? ›

Smart meters can help you to save money because they display your energy usage and the cost of this usage clearly on the screen. You don't have to wait for an energy reading to find out the cost of the energy you are using – cooking, TV, lights, heating water, charging devices or playing games and music, for example.

How do I read my meter reading? ›

When reading an electric meter, read and write down the numbers as shown on the dials from right to left. When the pointer is directly on a number, look at the dial to the right. If it has passed zero, use the next higher number. If it has not passed zero, use the lower number.

What is the reading each electric meter? ›

You will notice a series of round dials on the meter face. Each dial has ten numbers (0 - 9) and a pointer like a clock hand. The pointers advance when electricity flows through the meter, so the dials indicate the total number of kilowatt-hours (KWH) you have used.

What do the numbers on a gas meter mean? ›

Gas meters generally record the volume of gas consumed in cubic feet ( ft³ ) or cubic metres ( m³ ) although consumers are billed in kilowatt hours ( kWh ). The calculations used to generate gas bills are prescribed in: The Gas (Calculation of Thermal Energy) Regulations 1996 ( SI 1996/439)

How do I calculate my gas bill? ›

How to work it out
  1. Take away your last reading from your current reading. This is how many units you've used.
  2. If you've got a metric meter (m3), you can ignore this step. ...
  3. Multiply this number by the calorific value. ...
  4. Multiply this number by 1.02264. ...
  5. Divide this number by 3.6. ...
  6. Multiply this number by the price-per-kWh.

How do I read the gas meter on my house? ›

How to Read a Natural Gas Meter
  1. Read the dials left to right.
  2. If the hand is between two numbers, always select the lower number.
  3. When the hand is between "9" and "0," then "9" is considered the lower number.
  4. When the hand looks as though it is DIRECTLY on the number, look at the dial to the right.

How many kWh gas per day is normal? ›

If your boiler is on for a total of five hours per day, your daily usage should be around 120 kWh. But if you've noticed an increase in your gas bill recently, your boiler could be using more gas than it should.

How many kWh per day is normal UK gas? ›

household electricity consumption works out at between eight and 10 kWh per day. And, for reference, the average gas usage in UK households is between 32 and 38 kWh per day.

How many units of gas is a kWh? ›

1 unit of gas is equal to one kilowatt hour (kWh) of gas used. Its important to understand that your gas meter does not directly show how many units you are using, but instead measures the amount of gas used by volume in Cubic Meters (m3) or Cubic Feet (ft3), depending on the type of meter that you have.

Why you should refuse a smart meter? ›

Refusing a smart meter

If you refuse a smart meter, you might find it hard to access all tariffs. This is because in future the cheaper tariffs offered by suppliers might only be available to customers with smart meters.

What is the downside of a smart meter? ›

Although smart meters can help you keep track of your energy use, they could also drive up anxiety with elderly or low-income households if they're constantly reminded of what they're spending. This could lead to people depriving themselves of adequate heating or lights.

Why are people removing smart meters? ›

The chief concern of smart meter critics, besides the cost, is the potential privacy concerns that come with a household's data being transmitted to a supplier.

How do I calculate my electric bill? ›

How To Calculate Your Electricity Bill. Electric Bill Calculator with Examples
  1. Example:
  2. Total Consumed Units = 720.
  3. E = P x t … ( Wh)
  4. E = P x t ÷ 1000 … ( kWh)
  5. Consumed Energy = Energy Used in Watts x Time in Hours.
  6. E = P x t … ( Wh)
  7. E = P x t ÷ 1000 … ( kWh)
  8. Energy Cost = Energy Used in kWh x Time in Hours.

How do you calculate current bill? ›

2. Calculate your monthly electricity bill manually
  1. Watts = (amps) x (volts)
  2. Kilowatt-hours = (watts) x (usage) / 1000.
  3. Cost = (kilowatt-hours) x (electricity rate)
31 May 2022

How do you calculate units of electricity? ›

A kilowatt (KW) is 1,000 watts of electricity. A kilowatt hour (kWh) is 1,000 watts of electricity consumed for 1 hour. Knowing this, we can understand that 50KWh is the equivalent of 1,000 watts for 50 hours, or 5,000 watts for 1 hour. Alongside this, one unit of electricity is equal to 1KwH.

What is the normal number for gas? ›

Retail gasoline stations in the United States sell three main grades of gasoline based on the octane level: Regular (the lowest octane fuel–generally 87) Midgrade (the middle range octane fuel–generally 89–90) Premium (the highest octane fuel–generally 91–94)

How do you read gas numbers? ›

If the dial hand is between the numbers, use the lower one (if between 9 and 0, read 9). If the dial hand is exactly on a number, look at the dial to the immediate right. If its dial hand is not past 0, record the lower number for the dial in question.

What are the units on my gas meter? ›

Important: Your gas meter does not directly display the number of units of gas that you are charged on your bill. Your gas meter displays the amount of gas consumed in either Cubic Meters (m3)of Cubic Feet (ft3) (depending on your meter type).

What is the average gas and electric bill UK 2022? ›

The average unit price for dual fuel customers on a standard variable tariff, paying by Direct Debit from 1st October 2022, is approximately 10.3p per kWh plus a 28p daily standing charge for gas. And for electricity, it's roughly 34p per kWh plus a 46p daily standing charge.

How is gas and electric bill calculated? ›

Your energy bills are calculated on the basis of how many units of energy you consume. You may also pay a standing charge. When your meter is read, the energy company will subtract the amount shown on the previous meter reading from the most recent one to work out your bill.

How do you calculate gas and electric per month? ›

How do I know how much energy I am using?
  1. Monitor your daily usage by taking readings from your meter.
  2. Get a smart meter so you can monitor it from the display.
  3. Check your latest energy bill – it should have your monthly consumption/use and your annual estimated usage.
10 Sept 2021

How much energy does a 2 person household use? ›

How much electricity does a 2-bed house use. Typical electricity usage for a two-bedroom home sits between 2,500 and 3,000 kWh per year.

How many kWh should a house use per day? ›

That means that the average kW used in U.S. households is 30kW per day, which averages at around 900kW per month. As a disclaimer, these figures are calculated from the U.S. home average of kilowatt-hours per day.

How many kWh does one person use a month? ›

How much electricity does the average person use per month? The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) states that the average US citizen uses an average of around 909 kWh of energy per month, which equates to around 10,909 kWh per year.

What is the average gas bill for a 3 bedroom house UK? ›

The average annual gas bill for 2021 (Opens in a new window) was £575, or £47.92 each month based on government statistics from an annual use of 13,600 kWh/year.

What is the average electricity bill for a 1 bedroom flat UK 2022? ›

Average bills for a one-bedroom flat

The average electricity use for a one-bedroom flat is around 1800kWh, which would come to an annual bill of around £302.58 a year – or £25 a month. If you're on a standing charge, you could also expect to pay between £75-90 a year.

Is 30 kWh a day a lot UK? ›

The following figures give an estimate of the average electricity usage and average gas usage per day in the UK: Electricity - between 8 and 10 kWh per day. Gas - between 33 and 38 kWh per day.

How much is 1 kWh equal to? ›

One kilowatt hour is equal to one thousand watts sustained for one hour. While that still sounds technical, let's use a real example. If you take a 60-watt light bulb, it tells us that it sustains 60 watts of energy as it is used.

How many units is 1kW? ›

A kilowatt-hour (unit symbol: kW⋅h or kW h; commonly written as kWh) is a unit of energy: one kilowatt of power for one hour. In terms of SI derived units with special names, it equals 3.6 megajoules (MJ). Kilowatt-hours are a common billing unit for electrical energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.

Does 1 kWh equal 1 unit? ›

What is a unit of electricity? One unit of electricity is equal to one kilowatt-hour. It is the amount of power required to use an appliance of 1000 watt power rating for an hour.

Can you go back to normal meter from smart meter? ›

Unfortunately, it's not usually possible to downgrade from a smart meter back to a traditional meter, except in very specific exceptional circumstances. Even in those cases, downgrading is extremely expensive and not usually worth the cost.

Why is the government pushing smart meters? ›

There are more than 26 million homes for the energy suppliers to get to, with the goal of every home being offered a smart meter by 2024. By rolling out smart meters, the Government hopes to reach its net-zero emissions goal by 2050.

What happens if I unplug my smart meter? ›

You can unplug and store the device without impacting the connection of your smart meters. As the smart meters use the Wide Area Network (WAN) to send us your meter readings, they'll be unaffected by the function of any IHD.

Is it better to have a smart meter or not? ›

There are a number of benefits if you have smart meters: More accurate bills. Smart meters mean the end of estimated bills, and the end of overpaying (or underpaying) for your energy. No one has to come to your home to read your meter; you do not have to submit meter readings yourself.

Do smart meters need Wi-Fi? ›

Smart meters use an entirely separate, bespoke wireless system. You don't need Wi-Fi in your home for it to work and it won't use your Wi-Fi if you have it. Your smart meter and in-home display communicate via a secure national network which is solely for smart meters.

Do you get charged more with a smart meter? ›

What does a smart meter cost? There is no up-front cost for a smart meter – instead the price of the whole smart meter programme is absorbed into everyone's energy bills. The real-time display should theoretically even lead to cost savings, as research suggests that people who monitor their energy consumption use less.

Will smart meters become compulsory? ›

Whether you get one now, in the future or not at all is up to you. All suppliers will eventually be required to offer you them, but smart meters are NOT mandatory – you're free to say no. You can always change your mind if you decide you want one at a later date, simply contact your supplier to ask.

Are smart meters worse than Wi-Fi? ›

The study also concluded that exposure to the radio waves produced by smart meters is likely to be much lower than that from other everyday devices such as mobile phones and wifi equipment.

Are smart meters a waste of money? ›

But the vastly expensive roll-out of smart energy meters is being described as a 'waste of money' – because the equipment will become obsolete. Smart meters currently rely on outgoing 2G and 3G mobile signals to operate.

How do I know if my house is gas and electric? ›

If you've just moved to a new property and don't know who your gas or electricity supplier is, it's usually easy to find out. The simplest way to find out who supplies your energy is to ask the letting agent, landlord or the previous tenant of your property.

What is gas measured in meter reading? ›

Gas meters either display units in cubic meters (m3) or cubic feet ft3. Digital metric gas meters measure gas usage in cubic meters (m3) and usually show 'M' or 'M3' on the meter. 1. Write down all the numbers before the decimal point, left to right.

What is a gas meter reading? ›

Gas meters generally record the volume of gas consumed in cubic feet ( ft³ ) or cubic metres ( m³ ) although consumers are billed in kilowatt hours ( kWh ).

What is used reading electricity? ›

An electric meter is a device used to measure the electrical energy usage of a home, building, or other electrically powered device. They are used in order to provide accurate billing to customers.

Do radiators use gas or electric? ›

Both gas central heating radiators and electric radiators transfer heat in the same way: through a mixture of convected and radiated heat. In a gas central heating radiator, hot water from the pipes warms the surface of the radiator to radiate heat into the room.

Does central heating use gas or electricity? ›

Central heating gets its energy source from a variety of different places including solid fuels (such as wood), water/steam, petroleum and other liquids, electricity, heat pumps, and natural gases. The most common forms of central heating are electricity and gas because they are the easiest to maintain.

What can cause high electricity usage? ›

Why is my electric bill so high?
  • Faulty appliances. Domestic appliances can use a huge amount of electricity – dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers are some of the biggest household energy consumers. ...
  • Faulty wiring. ...
  • Faulty meter. ...
  • Other common issues.
24 Feb 2015

How much is gas per kWh? ›

The average per kWh price for gas has increased from 3.0p (Oct 2020-Mar 2021) to 3.3p (Apr-Sep 2021) to 4.1p (Oct 2021-Mar 2020) to 7.4p currently and will rise to 14.8p in October.

How much is a unit of gas on the meter? ›

1 unit of gas is equal to one kilowatt hour (kWh) of gas used. Its important to understand that your gas meter does not directly show how many units you are using, but instead measures the amount of gas used by volume in Cubic Meters (m3) or Cubic Feet (ft3), depending on the type of meter that you have.

Why is my gas reading so high? ›

Why is my electricity or gas bill so high? There is a number of reasons as to why your energy bill is higher than you expected. These could include the bill being based on an estimated rather than actual energy use, inadequate insulation, a cold spell, having just moved to a new home and lots more.

How do we calculate electricity bill? ›

Steps for Electricity Bill Calculator:
  1. electricity cost(per day) = (Σ energy consumption)*cost per unit 1000.
  2. energy consumption = 18 * 6 * ( 18 + 30 60. ) = 1998 wh.
  3. energy consumption = 60 * 3 * ( 12 + 00 60. ) = 2160 wh.
  4. energy consumption = 120 * 1 * ( 9 + 00 60. ...
  5. electricity cost(per day) = (1998 + 2160 + 1080) * 2 1000.

What are the two types of electric meters? ›

There are six types of electricity meter:
  • Standard meters.
  • Dial meters.
  • Digital meters.
  • Variable-rate meters.
  • Prepayment meters.
  • Smart meters.
5 Jan 2018


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