Is my meter working correctly?

It makes you wonder sometimes- you seem to get through hundreds of pounds in electricity and gas, but you don’t know where it has all gone… We have come across customers in the past who have actually had malfunctioning meters – that means that their meter was giving a spurious reading, and they were getting billed for electricity they were not using. Pretty shocking, but this in most cases there is a far more mundane reason for high energy bills. So is your meter working the way it is supposed to?

How do I know if my meter is not running correctly?

There are some quick tests you can do yourself before getting a professional involved. First turn everything off in the property – pilot lights for gas and all you wall sockets etc. The dials on your meters now should be still – if they are moving still, you could have a faulty meter, or indeed a gas leak! Do double check everything is off though…

Then you can start turning things back on. You should see a slight up tick with each appliance you turn on, but if you get an unexpected jump in the speed of the dial, you could have a faulty appliance.

What if you suspect it is faulty?

So if you think your meter is bumping up your bills, and you want it checked out, you can contact your provider and get them to test it. They will usually use a reference appliance – i.e. an appliance with a known power draw, and connect that to the meter. They can then see very accurately if the meter is over or under representing your bill.

The energy company will then either give you a refund for the whole period where they have been overcharging you, or they will issue you with a bill if found to be undercharging you. They may also charge for the test if it turns out to be working correctly.

What if you don’t agree with the result?

You have a right to get an independent test if you so wish. Both parties have to agree with the conclusions of that test however. This may involve taking the meter away, so make sure you take the meter number and the readings to ensure there are no disputes later.

It is pretty unlikely that the meter is very far out, but if it is more than 2.5% off, you will get a rebate, so it could work out in your favour if the meter really is playing up – I have met customers who have benefited from this process.

The more likely scenario

Before you go running off to your energy company, we should just point out some of the more likely reasons for a higher than expected bill. It is pretty nasty to get an unusually high bill, but there can be many reasons:

  • Is it an estimated reading? Estimated meter readings can be way out, and is probably the most likely reason for a high bill. Check your meters reading against the one on your bill.
  • Has the weather been unusually cold compared to the same time last year? If you needed to have your heating on more that will take your bills up.
  • Have your circumstances changed, like more people living at the household or extensions been made to the property?
  • Have you perhaps left the immersion heater on, or a particularly energy sapping appliance? Lots of people accidently leave the immersion heater on and this really saps electricity, so check your cylinder!
  • Has your tariff changed? It may be that you were on a great tariff and that has now expired. The supplier may have stuck you on a more expensive tariff, so check uswitch to see if you could save yourself some money.

Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?

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