Remember a time when 50 pence pieces were in high demand? Everyone needed them for the pre-payment meter. If you didn’t keep it filled, it turned off all your electricity, usually right in the middle of Corrie!
Times have thankfully changed and energy meters now live outside the house and won’t cut you off – unless you’ve not paid your bill!
Here we take a look at the different types of meters and how we can read them.
Hailed by the Government as the 'next generation' of meters they hope there'll be one installed in every household by 2020. The 'smart' means intelligent as they work out how much energy you're using in real-time. There’s even a digital display in the house to keep you posted on how much you're spending at any given time.
It sends all this information to your supplier to make your bill as accurate as possible. Suppliers will have to foot the bill to install these super meters and there'll be rules to protect consumers.
This is the most common meter in the UK, which measures energy usage in kWh (kilowatts per hour). Your meter will show a row of a numbers – just read left to right and note down the first five digits.
These are simple and easy to read – just read from left to right.
These energy meters have 4 or 5 dials, like clocks, only 0-9 not 1-12. Note down the number that the pointer has just passed on each dial. It might take a moment to work out which way they're travelling!
Economy 7 & 10
These dual rate meters give you two readings – the top one is for the night time/cheap rate and the bottom reading is for daytime/peak. Some meters may only have one display but there'll be a button to change the display to show both rates. Again read from left to right using the first 5 digits and ignoring any more. You can potentially make good savings on these kind of meters if you're able to set your appliances to work at night – do your washing for example or set your hot water timer for night time. They're not so good if you can't do this regularly, as the daytime rate is significantly higher.
This kind of meter means you pre-pay for your energy. An advantage of this is that you'll never use what you can't afford. But if you don't keep an eye on your remaining balance you may find yourself with no electricity – and have to make a late night dash to the nearest top-up location.
Suppliers sometimes offer pre-payment meters to customers with bad credit. Landlords could prefer these over credit meters because it makes it much simpler when new tenants move in.
Is the meter always right?
If you're worried that your meter is showing more usage than it should, you can always get it checked by your supplier. Be aware though, they may charge for this do be done. Another way to check without paying a fee is to get an energy monitor. This attaches to your power supply and tells you how much energy you are consuming. If you enter your tariff it will tell you how much it's costing too... handy.
If all this talk of measuring your energy is making you think about how much you're paying, why not do a quick comparison to see if you can get a better deal? It's easy to do and you can be switched and enjoying your new rate in no time. Just click here and compare energy tariffs today.