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. The meter will tell you how much electricity you use, rather than an estimate of how much you use. Knowing what you actually use will help you decide whether you can save money by switching.

Supplier estimates

Your supplier will estimate how much electricity you are consuming and use this figure in your bills - unless you have a prepayment meter. This will either be based on past use or average figures if you have recently moved.

Whatever your situation, it’s important that you check your meter to ensure you aren’t paying for more or less energy than you are using.

How to read different types of electricity meters

There are three main ways used to display a basic meter reading - standard, digital and dial. There are also prepayment meters, but these are less common.

Standard meter (or an electric mechanical meter)


This is the most common type of meter and uses a mechanical display to show your readings. To read a standard meter, you will need to take a note of the five black numbers from left to right - ignoring any red numbers (if present).

Dial 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.

To read this type of meter, you will need to read the numbers on the dials from left to right, ignoring the last red dial (if it is present), or any dials without figures or hands. If the needle is between two figures, take a note of the figure the dial has just passed.

Now you need to adjust this reading to make allowances for any small variations in the pointer positions.

If the figure is directly over the figure, say 5, write down that figure and underline it. 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’).

Digital meter


To read a digital meter, write down the first five figures on the digital display, and ignore any last figure that begins 0.1. With some digital meters you may need to press a button to get this figure to display.

Prepayment meters

There is a range of prepayment meters available in Ireland. Generally, to take a meter reading you have to press a button, which is normally blue. The display will change from showing you the remaining credit on your meter to the actual reading. Once you see the actual reading on your display, it’s just like taking a normal meter reading. Ignore the number in red if it appears.

I’ve taken my meter reading, what do I do now?

Now that you have your accurate meter reading, compare it against your last estimated bill. If you have been overpaying, then you are entitled to a refund from your electricity supplier.

If you have been underpaying, contact your supplier to discuss your options. You can normally pay it all off in one go or spread the cost over a few months.

Once you’ve paid off what you owe, you can search for a cheaper supplier if you wish.

What should I do if I think my meter reading is wrong?

If your electric meter reading seems wrong, contact your supplier to let them know that there could be something wrong with your meter.

Start switching

Start switching your electricity supplier now, to find out how much you could save.

To learn more about switching electricity, review our energy switching FAQ guide.