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Meter Types & How to Easily take a Meter Reading

Meter and magnifying glass

So, you’ve received an estimated meter reading that 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. Here at Selectra, we have put together everything you need to know about meters, the most common meter types in Ireland, and how to take gas and electricity meter readings.

How does a meter reading work?

Regular meter readings allow you to monitor your energy consumption. They also ensure that your receive accurate bills from your gas or electricity supplier. Meter readings are carried out up to four times per year. If you move in or out of a property, you should submit an electricity or gas meter reading at the time of moving.

Electricity meter readings

ESB Networks deals with electricity meter readings, regardless of which supplier you have. The company is responsible for all electricity meters in Ireland, no matter the type of meter you have.

A meter reader will visit your property up to four times per year to take your electricity meter reading. If you are not present when the meter reader visits, he/she will leave a card with information about how to submit your meter reading online or by phone. To submit your electricity meter reading, you will need to provide your MPRN.

Gas meter readings

Gas Networks Ireland handles your gas meter readings. As with electricity meter readings, a meter reader will come up to four times per year from Gas Networks Ireland. If he/she is unable to access the meter, you will be given a 'no access' card. This will have your GPRN on it, which you will need to submit the gas meter reading either online or by phone. You can also find your GPRN on your gas bill.

Save money on your energy billsCall one of our knowledgeable advisers for free advice now. Call 1800 816 036 or get a free callback now.


Meter types

electricity meter

There are several different types of meters in use for both electricity and gas. In general, they can be classed into the types below.

  • Mechanical revolving disc meters — This is the most common type of meter. It includes a revolving disc and one row of numbers.
  • Digital meters — These meters record your consumption on a digital display. They are the easiest to read.
  • Smart meters — ESB is in the process of upgrading 2.4 million electricity meters to smart meters across Ireland. These meters will be read automatically from 2021.
  • Dial meters — These outdated meters are generally only found as gas meters.
  • Pay As You Go (PAYG) meters — These meters have two components: the main meter from ESB Networks and a keypad for the customer to use. The keypad is normally on the side of the meter.

Where is my meter located?

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, ESB 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.


How do you read a meter reading?

How you read your gas and electric meters depends on the type of meter you have. Let's have a look at how to read the different types of meters below.

How do you read a mechanical revolving disc meter?

Mechanical 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. Be sure to ignore any red digits or figures enclosed in a red box.

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) tend to be mechanical revolving disc meters. Both readings will be displayed on the same meter, and 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.

How do you read a digital meter?

Digital meters are by far the easiest to read. To take the reading, read the numbers from left to right. Be sure to include all the digits.

If your digital meter is a Time of Day meter, it will have a blue display button. Press this button to scroll from the day to the night reading. The day reading will show a 2 on the left, and the night reading will show a 1 on the left. As with the 24-hour meter, take the reading from left to right and include all digits.

How do you read a smart meter?

A smart meter is a new type of digital meter. It has transmitting capabilities that enable automated meter readings. ESB will need to take these meter readings manually for now. However, smart meters will automatically send electricity meter readings from 2021. This means you will no longer need to worry about estimated bills. For more details about the smart meter rollout in Ireland, check out our smart meter guide.

How do you read a dial meter?

Dial meters (also called clock meters), are the most outdated meter type. They’ll normally 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.

To read your dial meter in the meantime, 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.

An old dial meter display
Source: Gas Networks Youtube

How do you read PAYG 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. You can also find the cheapest electricity offers per supplier in the table below.

Cheapest Prepayment Electricity Offer per Supplier
Supplier Best offer Price per year
Electric Ireland €150 Cashback €1,084.75
Pinergy €100 Cashback €1,179.93
PrepayPower Classic €1,261.03
Calculations based on average consumption figures for an urban home with a 24-hour meter. All discounts and cashback have been applied. Last updated: November 2020

PAYG is the most expensive way to pay for energy.Call us and we'll help move you to a cheaper tariff, fast. Call 1800 816 036 or get a free callback now.



How do you submit a meter reading?

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.

Submit a reading to ESB Networks by:

Telephone: 1850 33 77 77
Text: (MPRN [reading]) to 087 9609223
Email: reading@esb.ie
Online: Online Reading Submission

Submit a reading to Gas Networks by:

Telephone: 1850 427 732
Online: Online Reading Submission

What if I've missed a meter reading?

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.


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.

Request a meter key from ESB Networks by:

Telephone: 021 2386555
LoCall: 1850 372 757

Request a meter key from Gas Networks by:

LoCall: 1850 200 694
Email: networksinfo@gasnetworks.ie.
Online: Online Meter Key Request

Meter tampering

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
Online: https://www.esbnetworks.ie/existing-connection/meter-tampering

Report meter tampering to Gas Networks by:

LoCall: 1850 200 694
Online: https://www.esbnetworks.ie/existing-connection/meter-tampering

Faulty meter

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

gas meter

There are several reasons you may wish to relocate your meter. You may want to move your meter if the house is being renovated or you’re building an extension. Even if you're not doing renovations, you may just want your meter moved from inside to ouside. 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.

Want to move your electric meter outside?

If you want to move your electric meter to the outside wall, you will need to have a meter cabinet (or meter box). ESB will install the meter inside of this cabinet. If you need a meter cabinet installed, you should let ESB know when you call to request for the meter to be moved.

Once you have contacted ESB, you will be given a quote. Once you pay for the meter alteration, it will take three to four weeks for the appointment to take place.

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