Do you know your meters?
Some meters are smarter than others. What’s in your home – and could you benefit from a smart meter? Let’s find out more.
More and more people are getting smart energy meters every day in the UK. It’s all part of the government’s plan to get a smart meter in every home and business by the end of 2025. But what are they replacing? There are several types of energy meters, all with their own advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, we’ll look at all the different types of meters. Which one do you have? And, could you benefit from swapping it for a smart meter?
Gas and electricity meters
Firstly, most homes have two energy meters – gas and electricity. While there are exceptions, the majority of homes will use gas for their hot water, heating and cooking. Everything else, including home appliances and entertainment devices, will be powered by electricity.
Gas meters measure the volume of gas that passes through your pipeline. It multiplies the volume by the calorific value (fixed by your energy supplier) to calculate your energy use in kilowatt hours (kWh). The number of kilowatt hours determines how much you pay. Electricity meters simply calculate the kilowatt hours used in your property.
Your meters display a number (in a variety of different ways) which can help you monitor your energy usage. Depending on the type of meter you have, you may have to manually read your meter and send the reading to your energy supplier, so they can calculate your final bill.
Now, here are the types of meters you may have in your home.
Dial meters display the amount of energy you have used through a series (typically 5 or 6) dials. The needles on the dials rotate as your consumption grows to display your usage.
Dial meters are handy to help you monitor your energy consumption. However, they can be challenging to read when you have to send your reading to your supplier. What if the needle is between two numbers? Different dials on your meter move in opposite directions, so you must be on your guard to ensure you don’t make a mistake.
Dial meters are the oldest type of meter that you may have in your home. If you have one, it may be worth upgrading to a new smart meter to make sure your meters carry on working.
Digital meters are different from dial meters in that they display your energy consumption in kilowatt hours in actual numbers on the meter. Some digital meters are mechanical, so the number is displayed via some rotating discs, like an old-style milometer in a car. Others use an LCD screen to indicate the number.
Digital meters are good because the number is easy to read, especially when compared to dial meters. However, digital meters require you to read them manually and send the number to your energy supplier in order to calculate your bill. So, you still have to be careful to avoid making an error.
Sometimes you will have an energy expert who visits your address to manually read the meter on behalf of your supplier.
Smart meters are the next level in energy metering. With a smart meter, your meter records your energy and shows you your kilowatt-hour consumption in real-time, so you can see how much energy you are using and budget accordingly. You may even be able to identify ways to save energy and money.
There are two components to a smart meter. The first is the meter itself. The second is the digital display screen that sits separate from your meters, showing you the numbers that matter.
There are several benefits to getting a smart meter installed in your home or business.
- Accurate billing – no more estimated bills.
- Convenience – your smart meter connects to your Wi-Fi, automatically sending data to your supplier. Say goodbye to manual meter readings.
- Real-time energy use information nudges you towards saving energy – great for your bank account and the planet.
There are no downsides to smart meters to speak of, only that you need to book a home installation which takes 2-3 hours. If you are eligible for a smart meter, you should definitely think about getting one.
Other types of energy meter
Dial meters, digital meters and smart meters are by far the most common types of energy meters that you’ll have in your home. However, there are some less popular meters around. These include:
- Prepayment meters – Some people, especially those living in flats, must pay for their energy upfront. This is measured by a prepayment energy meter. You recharge your meter using a unique key (more modern meters allow you to prepay using a mobile app), and when it runs out, you have to recharge.
- Economy 7/Economy 10 meters – If you’re on a tariff that charges you different amounts for on-peak or off-peak energy usage, you may have an Economy 7 or Economy 10 meter. It will display two separate figures for you to read and send to your energy supplier.
- Scottish meters – Things are a little different in Scotland. Some homeowners in Scotland will have THTC meters that show your hot water and heating energy consumption separately from the rest of your energy usage. Other Scottish consumers may have SHC meters that give you a low-cost boost to your existing energy usage, recorded separately.
Find out more
Did you find the meter that’s in your home, nestling in the cupboard under the stairs or hidden in the garage?
If you haven’t got a smart meter yet, could you benefit from everything they have to offer? It could help you save money, which could make all the difference in today’s economy. Talk to your energy company today and book your installation now.