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How do I read my electricity meter?

An electricity meter allows you to manage and understand your electricity consumption, so it’s vital to know how to take accurate measurements.

Why should you read your electricity meter?

Energy suppliers sometimes estimate your energy use, and charge you based off that, rather than your actual use.

This means you could end up paying for more or less energy than you use, which can make it difficult to manage your spending - and could result in a shock bill further down the line.

If you know how to take an accurate electricity meter reading, you can submit regular readings to your supplier, and only pay for the energy you use.

Knowing what your actual electricity use is will also help you if you’re shopping around for a new gas supplier.

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What types of electricity meters are there?

There are four main types of electricity meters:

  1. Standard meters
  2. Digital meters
  3. Dial meters
  4. Prepayment meters

What about Day and Night meters?

You may have a meter with one set of numbers on it, which is 24-hour meter, or a meter with two different consumption displays, which is known as a Day and Night meter.

Day and Night meters record your day and night-time usage separately and - if you are on a Nightsaver tariff - you pay less for any units used during night-time hours.

If you have a Day and Night meter, you’ll see two number displays on your meter - marked 1 and 2, or the roman numerals I and II.

1 (or I) is your night consumption and 2 (or II) is your day consumption.

Apart from taking two readings, all other elements of reading Day and Night meters are the same as reading a 24-hour meter.

1. How to read a standard electricity meter (or an electric-mechanical meter)

Electricity meter dial with reading

This is the most common type of electricity meter in Ireland and uses a mechanical display to show your readings.

To read a standard meter:

  1. Take a note of the five black numbers from left to right
  2. Ignore any red numbers (if present)

2. How to read a digital electricity meter

Digital electricity meter with reading

To read this meter:

  1. Press the indicated button to get your digital meter reading to display (if required).
  2. Write down the first five figures on the digital display.
  3. Ignore any last figure that begins with 0.1.

3. How to read a dial electricity meter

Dial meters look like small clocks, but it’s important to know that the dials next to each other go around in opposite directions.

Dial gas meter for meter reading

To read this type of meter:

  1. Read the numbers on the dials from left to right, ignoring the last red dial (if present) or any dials without figures or hands.
  2. If the needle is between two figures, take a note of the number the dial has just passed.
  3. If the figure is directly over the figure, say 5, write down that figure and underline it.
  4. Look at the figure underlined. If one of those numbers in the sequence is followed by a 9, reduce the underlined figure by 1 (so the underlined 5 becomes 4).

4. How to read a prepayment electricity meter

Prepayment electricity meter

There are a range of prepayment meters available in Ireland. Normally the display on your meter will show you your remaining credit.

Generally, to take a meter reading:

  1. Press the blue button on your meter.
  2. When your reading appears, make a note of the numbers.
  3. Ignore any numbers appearing in red.

What to do with your electricity meter reading

Now that you have your accurate meter reading, compare it against your last estimated bill.

If you’ve been overpaying, then you’re entitled to a refund from your electricity supplier. Submitting a reading should rectify this.

If you’ve been underpaying your bill, contact your supplier to discuss your options.

How to access your meter if you live in an apartment

If you live in apartment, your meter may be in a larger meter cabinet, along with the meters for the other apartments in your block.

It’s possible that this cabinet will be locked, so it can sometimes prove difficult to read your own meter if you are living in an apartment.

The best bet would be to talk to the building manager, if there is one, or to contact the management company for the apartment block, who should be able to arrange for you to get regular access to the meter.

How to submit your electricity meter reading

Various suppliers will allow you to submit meter readings in different ways, for example on their website or by text or phone. And, regardless of which supplier you’re with, you can also submit a meter reading on the ESB Networks website.

To submit a reading you will need:

  • Your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN); and
  • Your current meter reading.

What to do if your meter is locked

If your meter is locked, you could firstly contact your electricity supplier to see if they can provide you with a replacement key.

Otherwise, for an electricity meter, ESB Networks will be able to help. You can contact them on 1850 372 757 and they’ll arrange for a key to be delivered to you.

For a gas meter, you can contact Gas Networks Ireland on 1850 427 732 to get a replacement key.

Time to cut down on your usage or switch

Now that you know how to read your meter, you should submit meter readings regularly.

You could also use your electricity consumption to compare offers from electricity suppliers across Ireland to find out how much you could save by switching.

The average electricity customer can save up to €261 by switching from a standard electricity tariff to the cheapest deal on the market.

To learn more about switching electricity, take a look at our energy switching FAQs.

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