How to read your meter: Smart, prepay and others

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Think about your energy meter – it’s stuck in a cupboard or shoved in some concrete-lined utility room. It’s difficult to see, so you have to crane your neck, bend yourself double or assume some massively painful yoga position to access the figures you need. And all the time you’re doing this, you’re gripping a torch in your mouth and trying to make sense of the digits/wheels/dials and numbers you’re looking at while jotting something down onto a scrap of paper. So the question is…

How have WeFlip made reading your meter entertaining?

We haven’t. Not even WeFlip can make reading a meter something you look forward to doing. What we can do is answer a few questions. That way, when you find yourself confronted by a row of digital symbols, some strange looking dials or a readout that keeps changing, you’ll at least have an idea of what you’re supposed to be looking for.

We’ll explain how to make sense of all types of meters, from how to read a smart meter to getting to grips with an economy 7 meter or a prepayment meter (also known as a pay-as-you-go meter). At the very least, your supplier (and you) will know exactly how much energy you’re using.

How to read…

A single rate digital meter

You’ll be looking at a row of digital numbers, five of which will be in black or white, sometimes followed by another number in red. Reading from left to right, jot down the first five numbers and ignore the red number. The number you’ve got on your scrap of paper is your meter reading. See how easy that was?

Two rate meters

Not all digital meters have just the one row of numbers. If you’re on an economy 7 or economy 10 tariff, for example, you pay different rates at different times of the day, and this means you get two readings – one for the full price and one for the discounted tariff. The principle remains the same, however. The top row will show how many units you’ve used at the cheaper rate, the bottom row how many units you’ve paid full price for. You need to note down both numbers in the same way you took the single rate meter reading – from left to right, ignoring any red numbers.

Other two rate meters

You may have a two-rate meter with a row of numbers that keeps switching back and forth between the two figures. Either that, or you can press a button to scroll from one number to the next. Note down both figures and you’ve taken a meter reading for both parts of your dual tariffs.

Dial meters

So far this has been pretty simple, but with dial meters things get a bit more complicated. Don’t worry, though, we’re here to walk you through it and make sure it’s that bit less daunting. If you’ve got a dial meter then you’ll be looking at five or more small round dials, each with a pointer moving clockwise or anti-clockwise, indicating numbers from zero to nine. You need to read the dials going from left to right, noting down every number the pointer has just gone past. If the pointer is directly on a number, you have to underline that number, and then check the number to the right. If the pointer to the right is resting between zero and nine then you can lower the underlined number by one (if you’ve got a headache reading this then don’t worry, so have we).

Pre-payment meters

If you’ve got a prepayment (or pay-as-you-go) meter then you won’t have to send a reading to your supplier, since they’ll be contacted automatically every time you charge your key or card and load the payment on to the meter. If you do need to take reading – if you’re moving house, for example, and don’t want to be charged for energy you’re not using – then you need to press the large button next to the digital display. As you press, the digital screen will scroll through a list of figures detailing matters like the credit and debt on the meter and the rate you’re being charged for your energy.

How do I submit my meter reading?

This really is the simple bit. Once you’ve got the figure you need there are a couple of options:

Log onto the website of your supplier. You may need to register an online account using details like your account number and address. Once you’ve done this you can go to the ‘submit meter reading’ page and simply enter the figures you took down.

Phone your supplier. In most cases they’ll have an automated system allowing you to either speak your meter reading into the phone, or enter it using your phone’s keypad. If not, then choose the ‘speak to a member of our team’ option and someone will point you in the right direction.

How often should I submit my meter reading?

You should submit a meter reading at least every three months, as this takes into account the changing seasons and fluctuating fuel use. Now that you’ve found out how easy it is, however, you could opt to do it every month, making sure you’re completely on top of the amount of energy you’re using and how much it’s costing you. Submitting a reading every month means you’ll quickly become aware of any sharp rises, helping you avoid any nasty surprises and giving you a head-start if the increases are enough to make you want to switch electricity supplier.

How do I find my MPAN or MPRN?


Your Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) is a unique 13 digit number for the meter supply in your property, and it’s different to your customer reference number. You’ll find it in a box on your bill or statement, but if you haven’t got a bill to refer to you can contact your local supplier. If you’re not sure who that is, then find out by entering your postcode.


Your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) is a unique number assigned to your gas meter. As with the MPAN you may need this number when moving house or switching suppliers. To find out what your MPRN is, visit the Find My Supplier website or call the meter number helpline on 0870 608 1524, with your postcode and first line of the address. Armed with this, they’ll be able to provide your MPRN and tell you who your supplier is.

Regular meter reading is one way of keeping your energy bills lower. Want to know an even better way? Try WeFlip and let us find the best tariffs out there.