How do you read a gas meter?


Keeping track of you gas meter readings will save you money. How? Keep reading.Part of why people pay too much for energy in the UK is because we’re not taking regular gas meter readings, and our bills are based on estimated usage. Which may be far more than you’re actually using at home. As such, taking a regular energy meter reading can make your gas bills much cheaper and more manageable.
Last updated: November 2022

Indeed, a 2020 study by The National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that we’re spending around £800 more than we should for our energy. However, there are lots of different kinds of gas meters in UK homes. Taking a gas meter reading may be easier for some than others. Here we’ll look at how you can ensure an accurate gas meter reading every time.

What do my meter readings mean?

When you look at your gas meter, you will see 4-5 digits. These represent your gas usage in either cubic meters or cubic feet (depending on whether you have a metric or imperial meter). If you have a mechanical meter, you will also see a red line after which there are 2-3 further digits. Usually these will be presented in red. You can disregard these as they are not relevant to your reading.

This figure is then converted into kilowatt hours (kWh) by your energy company and used to calculate your monthly bill.

Another way to save money is by switching energy suppliers. If you are not happy with your current plan, give us a call. When you call the number above, our experts can switch you within 20 minutes.

Different kinds of gas meter and how to read them

There are lots of different kinds of gas meters, both in terms of how they function and how they are read. Fortunately, the vast majority of domestic gas meters in the UK use the same system of bellows and diaphragms to measure the flow of gas into your home.

However, there are several different kinds of interface. Here’s how you read them:

Mechanical metric meter / Mechanical imperial meter

These mechanical meters use a system of diaphragms that move a crankshaft, which in turn rotates a series of wheels on which are printed numbers. These meters are pretty straight forward to read. Simply log the first 4-5 digits you see from left to right. On the far right, there may be 2-3 red numbers which can be disregarded. Usage will be logged in either cubic feet (ft3) or cubic meters (m3), depending on whether the meter is imperial or metric.

Digital metric meter / Digital imperial meter

There are some digital meters that send out electronic pulses instead of turning a series of wheels. These have a digital display which is read in the same way. You may need to press a button on the meter unit to obtain a reading. Again, usage will be logged in either cubic feet (ft3) or cubic meters (m3), depending on whether the meter is imperial or metric.

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Dial meter

Dial meters are a little trickier to read as they use a series of circular dials to represent each digit. When reading these meters, always log the digit that the needle has passed most recently, rather than the one it is about to reach. If in doubt, simply take a picture of your dial meter with your smartphone and send it to your energy supplier. They will be able to log the usage on your behalf.

Smart meter

Second generation smart meters log your gas usage and transmit it to your energy supplier via a DCC network. Older models used the 3G network. However, these are currently in the process of being phased out. Primarily because they stop transmitting usage data when users switch energy suppliers. A process known as “going dumb”.

Smart meters have a white exterior and an LCD display. While you don’t need to report your smart gas meter readings to your supplier, it’s still a good idea to check on your usage to see how much you’re spending.

Gas Meter Reading 2

How to check your gas meter reading

Reading your gas meter is fairly straightforward. If it’s a mechanical or digital meter make a note of the numbers you see on the meter’s face from left to right. A gas meter reading should be 4-5 digits long. After this, there is usually a red mark, after which you’ll see a further 2-3 digits. You can disregard these.

Dial meters are slightly trickier, but essentially each dial represents one digit of your meter read. If the needle is positioned between numbers on a dial, always report the last number that the needle has passed rather than the number that the dial is heading towards.

If in doubt, take a photo of your meter and send it to your supplier so they can log the reading for you.

How to calculate your gas bill from your meter reading

If you want to get an idea of your gas spend ahead of your bill, you can calculate this yourself. The first thing you’ll need to do is a little calculation to convert your usage from cubic meters or feet (as it’s displayed on your meter) to kilowatt hours (as it’s displayed on your bill).

Use the following procedure to calculate your bill:

  • First, calculate your usage by subtracting the figure on your last meter reading from your current reading.
  • If this figure is in cubic meters, multiply it by 11.1868 to convert it into kWh.
  • If this figure is in cubic feet, multiply it by 31.6586 to get the same amount in kWh.
  • Now calculate your number of kWh used by your tariff’s unit rate for gas. This is usually around 2-3p.
  • Finally, multiply your tariff’s gas standing charge by the number of days it’s been since your last bill.
  • Put these two figures together and you should be able to accurately calculate your next gas bill.

What are energy rates and how do they affect the cost of my energy bill?

Energy rates are charged per kilowatt hour kWh. The actual cost of a kWh or unit of gas can vary enormously, depending on your supplier. Energy rates can rise and fall depending on the cost of wholesale energy. Which is why many consumers choose fixed rate tariffs to insulate themselves from rising energy costs. These rates are just one component of your gas bill. The rest is made up of a “standing charge”. This charge reflects the energy supplier’s operational costs as well as the fee they charge to the gas transporter to use their network.

Are your energy rates too expensive?

The unfortunate truth is that unless you’re switching energy suppliers or tariffs regularly, even if you accurately log your gas meter readings, you could be paying too much for your gas. The same goes for your electricity.

The good news is that we can scour the market on your behalf to find you the best energy rates and standing charges for your needs and usage. We’ll even manage your switch for you from end-to-end. So you can enjoy cheaper (and greener) gas, completely hassle-free!

Sound like a plan?

Call us today on 0330 818 6223 to find out more. We’re available from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.

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How do I convert of gas usage from cubic meters into kWh?

Converting your usage from cubic meters to kilowatt hours (kWh) can help you to get a better idea of how much you’ll be charged when your bill arrives. To do this, simply multiply each cubic meter of gas by 10.395 to get the equivalent in kWh.

How does my gas meter work?

Almost all gas meters in UK homes use a bellows / diaphragm mechanism. 

Inside the meter, a series of 2 or more chambers are formed by movable diaphragms. These alternately fill and expel gas like bellows. As the diaphragms expand and contract, cranks and levers are used to drive a crankshaft that drives a counter mechanism much like an odometer. This is what logs the usage and creates the mechanical display that you see.

Who is responsible for my gas meter?

Your energy supplier is responsible for maintaining your gas meter and ensuring that it works correctly. The costs associated with this are a part of your standing charge. As such, if your meter develops a fault, your supplier will replace it free of charge. However, if you want to change your meter for any other reason there may be a cost associated with this.

Why is it so important to get an accurate gas meter reading?

An accurate gas meter reading can help to ensure that you are accurately billed for the gas you use. If you fail to log your gas usage, your bills will be based on estimates. And these could far exceed the amount of gas that you actually use. Especially if you have only recently moved into the property.

Updated on 29 Jan, 2024

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