6 Important Things You Need to Know About Your Electricity Meter
How much do you know about your electricity meter? You probably know that you have one, and where it is, but do you know what meter type you have and what it does?
These are questions that may impact on the ways in which you use electricity in and around your home. It can also influence the way you get charged for your electricity use. Here are six of the most important things that you should know about your electricity meter.
1. What Does My Electricity Meter Do?
Let’s start with the most important question that, perhaps, many take for granted. Essentially, the electricity meter on your property measures just how much power you use. It typically records electricity consumption over a set time interval, information that energy retailers then use to calculate your next power bill.
2. What Meter Type Do I Have?
Your home will have one of two different types of meters. You either have an:
- Accumulation meter or
- Interval meter or smart meter
Each meter type operates differently and can have a significant effect on your energy costs.
An accumulation meter simply measures the amount of electricity used on the property since the time of installation. A meter reader comes to your property every three months to record the usage figures up to that day.
The difference between the figure on that day and the previous reading determines the amount used to calculate your power bill for that period.
On the other hand, an interval meter gauges the volume of electricity used every 30 minutes. That information is transferred directly to and read remotely by your energy provider.
3. How Do You Read Your Meter?
Accumulation meters come as either a dial/clock face, cyclometer display or digital electricity meter. All are measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and both provide cumulative usage records.
On a digital meter, you read the number from left to right. To find the record of how much electricity you’ve used, you may need to navigate through the date and time screens first.
The meter number you want to look for will differ for peak and off-peak times. Electricity usage numbers in peak times will start with a 03 or 003, while off-peak usage will start with a 07 or 007.
If your home has solar panels, you will have a separate electricity meter reading for power you have exported to the grid. This number on the digital display will start with a 09 or 009.
Dial or clock face electricity meters consist of five small dials, each numbered 0 to 9 and containing a pointer. A sixth dial marked as 1/10kWh also appears, but is just a testing figure and doesn’t factor into the reading.
Like digital meters, they are also read left to right. The numbers on each dial revolve in the opposing direction to the one next to it. If one turns clockwise then the next will be anti-clockwise, then clockwise and so on.
When the arrow is pointing between two numbers on the dial, say between 3 and 4, you take note of the lower of the two – in this case the 3. When the arrow points directly over a number, underline it as you jot it down, then pay attention to the number that follows it. If that number is either an 8 or 9, you then bring down the underlined previous figure by one.
Interval meters, or smart meters, send your reading directly to your electricity retailer and cannot be manually read. You won’t be able to conduct your own meter reading with a smart meter but may be able to contact your retailer or sign into your account online for detailed information.
All electricity meters come with a unique number that is specific to the meter on the property. They also come with a National Meter Identifier (NMI), a number that you will need should you decide to change electricity retailers.
4. Can I Calculate My Energy Costs Based on My Meter Readings?
Both digital and clock face accumulation meters allow you to read your meter to record how much electricity you’ve used since your last bill. By taking the previous meter reading figure off your current recorded amount, you’ll be able to calculate your electricity use for that period.
To then get a rough amount of the cost, you multiply the usage amount by the tariff amount on your last bill. If you’re with an electricity provider who offers billing on a monthly basis, your meter will still be read every three months.
For the next bill immediately following a meter reading and the one prior to the next reading, you’ll receive estimated bills based on your previous usage.
For customers with smart meters, to calculate costs you may need to sign into your account on your electricity retailer website for detailed information.
5. Do Readers of Electricity Meters Need Open Access?
Homes with accumulation meters will need to provide unrestricted, safe access for readers to visit the premises to take the reading off the meter. Most electricity meters are located at the front of the property and are easily accessible.
However, if your meter is either indoors or behind a secure gate, you may need to arrange a date and time for providing access to your meter.
Failure to do so for three consecutive periods puts you at risk of having your electricity disconnected.
6. Are Smart Meters the Way Forward?
For customers either building a new home or looking at replacement meters because their existing meter is outdated or has succumbed to wear and tear, smart or interval meters appear to be where the market is going.
One of the big advantages that smart meters have over their accumulation counterparts is that smart meters can determine precisely the periods of most and least use of electricity in your home. Customers with an accumulation meter, on the other hand, get charged a flat rate regardless of when and how they use electricity. With this information, you may be better equipped to find an energy plan that best suits your usage needs.
A smart meter can be the better option for people with solar panels, who want readings that separate peak from off-peak usage, and who want real time monitoring of electricity use.
To Sum Up
When it comes to electricity meters, knowing how they work, what they record and what that information is used for can be highly beneficial. Understanding your electricity meter can help you determine whether you have the best option for your home. This article has looked at various questions, including:
- What your meter does
- Different meter types
- Meter reading
- How to calculate energy use and costs
- The importance of safe reader access
- Whether smart meters are better than accumulation meters
With the information your electricity meter provides, you can make informed decisions about everything from your usage to your choice of electricity retailer. Information and decisions that can benefit you greatly.