Energy meter reading day: When to submit gas and electricity readings to avoid being overcharged

Energy meter reading day: When to submit gas and electricity readings to avoid being overcharged

Households that pay energy bills by direct debit are being advised to submit meter readings before the end of September.

A new energy cap of £1,923 per year will apply from October to December, when households are likely to turn their heating back on. It is almost £600 lower than the £2,500 Energy Price Guarantee that superseded the cap last winter.

Regulator Ofgem has cut the energy price cap for the last three months of the year by £150, but the end to support schemes means millions of households are still set to pay more for energy than in 2022.

The energy support scheme that provided customers with an extra £66 a month last winter will no longer apply. This means many customers will pay more over the next cap period.

The cap is a limit on the amount that is charged per unit of energy, though it is typically expressed in terms of average household bills for direct debit customers in a two- to three-person household. It is not a maximum household bill, meaning those using a large amount of energy are likely to pay more than the cap amount.

Consumer rights expert Martin Lewis said: “With monthly direct debit, firms estimate your usage, and assign it to a certain period, so submitting a reading within a few days of the change (many let you backdate a few days, too) reduces the risk of their ‘estimating’ going against you (though there’s always a chance a discrepancy could end up in your favour).

“Take a pic of the meter for belt ’n’ braces.”

When should I take meter readings?

Submit electricity and gas readings to your provider on September 30, the day before the changes take effect.

An updated meter reading helps prevent your supplier from calculating bill prices that aren’t accurate to your usage.

Most providers will let you backdate meter readings for around a week, but it’s always worth double checking.

Why should you submit meter readings?

Sending regular meter readings is crucial to avoid your provider overestimating energy usage and overcharging you.

Submitting your reading before the change will ensure you are paying for any energy already used, and keeps your bill as accurate as possible.

Otherwise, your next bill will be based on an energy company estimate of how much electricty and gas you used before the unit price changed.

How to take your meter reading and send it to your energy company

Locate your digital electricity meter and write down the five numbers in black and white, excluding the sixth number in red.

If you have a two-rate digital meter, write down all the numbers in black and white, from right to left, and ignore the red figures.

Send these figures to your energy company via their website, app, or over the phone.

If you’re not able to reach the energy company, take a clearly visible photo of your meter reading and meter serial number and submit it as soon as you can.

How does the Energy Price Guarantee work?

The Energy Price Guarantee limits the amount you can be charged per unit of gas or electricity. It is not a cap.

Bills will continue to be influenced by how much energy you use — some people will pay more if they use more than the average amount, some may pay less.

If you’re on a prepayment meter, the Energy Price Guarantee will be applied to the rate you pay for each unit of energy. This makes the money you put on the meter last longer than it otherwise would have.