So, you’ve received an estimated meter reading which is suspiciously high, and would like to check your usage and submit a corrected meter reading. No problem! Except...how do you take a meter reading? Does it matter which meter type you have? Hang on a minute, where exactly IS your meter?
If this sounds like it could be you, relax and take a seat. Selectra has put together everything you need to know about meters, the most common meter types in Ireland, and how to take readings.
ESB & Gas Networks meter reading
The first thing we need to remember is that residential meter readings are taken four times a year for both gas meters and electricity meters in Ireland. ESB deals with electricity meter readings, regardless of supplier, and Gas Networks does the same for gas meters.
Certain regulations have been put in place regarding meter placement on properties, to enable ease of access for meter readers. Know where your meter is and try to make sure it is accessible for ESB and Gas Networks representatives.
I have a house. Where is my meter?
Modern gas and electricity meters are normally located outside dwellings in a meter box or cabinet, usually attached to a wall. If gates or fences are put in to separate the front and back garden, they must be behind the meter box, so that technicians can access it.
I don’t have a garden. Where is my meter?
Occasionally, if a low-pressure gas connection is available, a meter box may be located inside a house - for example if there is no garden. In this situation, it could be a good idea to leave a copy of your keys with a trusted neighbour to enable access for meter reading purposes.
If you’ve just moved into a new house and aren’t too sure of where the meter is, some common places a meter is normally located inside a house include:
- Under the stairs
- Under the sink
- In the garage
- In a cupboard
- Near the entrance
I live in an apartment. Where is my meter?
In apartment complexes, electricity and/or gas meters are normally located in meter banks on the ground floor, in the basement or outside. Usually, tenants and owners will not have access to where the meters are kept, and will need to speak to the building manager or apartment complex management company, in order to gain access.
If this is the case for you and you’re unable to organise a time to coincide with gaining access, you could ask the person with the key to take a photo of your meter reading instead, and send it to you. You can tell which meter is yours by matching it up with the MPRN/GPRN (Meter Point Reference Number of Gas Point Reference Number) on your electricity or gas bill.
I’ve missed a meter reading, what now?
If for some reason engineers were unable to access your meter, you will receive an estimated energy bill. Estimated bills are generally terrible for managing your household budget, and particularly in the colder months, can lead to some nasty surprises on your next bill. We always recommend that in the event of missing a meter reading, you submit your own reading.
In most cases you can submit it to your supplier, or to ESB Networks or Gas Networks directly. Easy...except how do you take a meter reading? Well, it’s a fairly straightforward process once you know what type of meter you have. Gas meter readings are taken in cubic feet, which your supplier will then convert to kWh (kilowatt hour). Electricity meters already display your consumption in kWh.
There are several different types of meters in use for both electricity and gas, but in general they can be classed into the types below. Smart meters are actually a new type of digital meter, with transmitting capabilities that enable automated meter reading. Check out our smart meter article for more information.
Dial meters (also called clock meters), are the most outdated meter type. Normally they’ll only be used for gas nowadays, as the ones for electricity were replaced years ago. If you have a dial meter, you can request an appointment to have it swapped out for a more modern one for free. In the meantime, to read it, ignore the top two dials.
You will be left with four dials on the bottom, each pointing to a different number. Take the numbers from left to right, to get your meter reading number. If the arrow on a dial is halfway between two figures, take the previous number. So, for example, the reading for the meter below would be 6165.
Digital meters are by far the easiest to read, as they’ll either show your current reading on the display, or you can press a button to get one. Ignore any numbers to the right of the comma or decimal point, if there is one.
Electromechanical meters (also called revolving disc meters) have a display with five black digits and one red digit. To submit a meter reading you just use the first five (black) digits. If you have a storage heater, you’ll probably have a second meter from which you’ll also need to take a reading. Day and Night meters (Nightsaver) usually tend to be electromechanical meters, and show both readings on one meter. You’ll need to note both figures in order to submit a reading. The night reading is marked 1 or I in Roman numerals, while the day reading is 2 or II.
PAYG (Pay as you go) meters
Unlike a digital meter, a PAYG meter (also known as a prepayment meter) will not show you your current reading on the screen, instead it will display your credit. To get a meter reading, simply press number nine on the keypad.
Be aware that many PAYG meters have two components, the meter, and the keypad (which is normally positioned to the side of the meter). For more information on PAYG (pricing, suppliers that offer it), we recommend you check out our handy PAYG guide.
How to submit meter readings
Luckily, with the advent of new technology, submitting a meter reading is now easier than ever. If you’ve received a notice from ESB or Gas Networks that an engineer was unable to access your meter for a reading, there is usually a QR code on the notice that you can scan in and use to submit a reading.
If you’ve received an estimated bill and would like a correction made, you can submit your reading to Gas Networks, ESB Networks or your Supplier. We recommend you take a reading and submit it online or via telephone to ESB or Gas Networks, as your supplier will not adjust your bill in any case unless the reading is accepted by ESB or Gas Networks. You should try and submit a meter reading within 24 hours of receiving the notification that an engineer was unable to read your meter.
I’ve lost my meter key
Meter box keys can look different, but generally all work the same. You can request a replacement meter box key from ESB networks or Gas Networks at any time, free of charge. If you can’t wait for a new key to be posted out to you, you can also pick a key up for between 50 cent to €2 at any hardware shop.
It is an illegal and punishable offence to tamper with a gas or electricity meter. Electricity and gas meters are potentially dangerous pieces of equipment that mustn’t be interfered with in any way. Both ESB Networks and Gas Networks Ireland have teams dedicated to detecting meter tampering and both companies have policies of starting criminal proceedings against individuals caught tampering with meters.
The penalty for interfering with a meter can range from a €5000 fine to six months in prison, and in some cases, both.The reason meters are normally tampered with is in order to divert electricity or siphon off gas (electricity theft and gas theft). In some cases meters are also modified to stop metering electricity and gas correctly, thereby lowering the energy bills of the resident at that property.
If your meter is found to have been tampered with, it will be replaced free of charge. If you have tampered with your own meter, apart from criminal prosecution, you could also be liable for replacement and repair costs of up to €408. Electricity units stolen will then be billed.
As such, taking into account the consequences that can arise from tampered meters, you should always check that any electricians or gas installers are certified. Electricians must be certified by RECI or ECSSA, and gas installers by RGI (always ask to see their membership cards which should also feature a photo of them).
Report meter tampering to ESB Networks by:
LoCall: 1850 211 827
Report meter tampering to Gas Networks by:
LoCall: 1850 200 694
Faults rarely happen with meters, but are occasionally possible. If your billing is looking extremely high or low when compared with your actual consumption, and you’ve ruled out the possibilty of a faulty appliance in your home, then contacting your energy supplier is the next step.
They will then arrange for a load test or the installation of a “check” meter, next to the energy meter in question. Be aware that a charge may be applied for the tests if the energy usage has been measured and the meter is found not to be faulty.
To avoid paying up, it's best to be sure that the meter is faulty before placing a call. You can check if consumption is being unusally affected by any of your appliances, by switching them all off. Then turn them back on one by one, while keeping an eye on the meter to gauge if they're consuming the correct amount of energy.
Moving a meter
There are several reasons you may wish to relocate your meter. If the house is being renovated, you’re building an extension, or are changing from an inside meter to an outside meter for safety reasons, for example. To arrange to have it moved, contact ESB Networks (for electricity meters) or Gas Networks (for gas meters) and they’ll send you a quotation.
In all likelihood, you’ll need to have your MPRN or GPRN to hand, which can be found on your bill. An electricity meter is a little easier to relocate, given that an electrician can make the necessary changes to wiring, but moving a gas meter is trickier and options for a new location may be more restricted.