/ Home & Energy

Are you losing out to a faulty energy meter?

Energy meter

We all rely on our gas and electricity meters to accurately measure hundreds of pounds’ worth of energy a year. But have you ever stopped to wonder whether you really can trust your meter?

Our exclusive research has revealed hundreds of thousands of meters across the country could be faulty.

We’ve analysed government figures, our own survey results and looked at confidential industry reports to investigate the scale of the problem.

How common are faulty meters?

Faults are rare, but meters can and do go wrong. Government figures show:

  • On average 24% of the gas meters tested every year since 2006 were faulty
  • And 7% of electricity meters tested since 2003 were faulty (or installed incorrectly or not an approved type)

These are disputed meters – only tested because an error is already suspected – so not representative of the UK’s 53 million meter population as a whole.

And there are other ways meters can go wrong. We’ve found hundreds of thousands of clocks could be wrong on time-of-use meters, such as Economy 7. These types of meters are used by people on a tariff which offers cheaper electricity at certain times of the day.

And we have also found almost 9% of smart meters could have lost their ability to send automatic readings back to suppliers.

Checking if your meter is faulty

So how do you know if your meter is faulty? Unusual bills or meter readings are usually the best clue. If you have suspicions, then record regular meter readings to help prove your case.

Energy suppliers have to ensure all gas and electricity meters are accurate. So if you suspect your meter is faulty, contact your supplier – it must investigate.

Suppliers can charge for removing and replacing the meter, although the actual testing is free.

So should you be worried?

Meters don’t often go wrong. But with 53 million of them in Great Britain, there could still be hundreds of thousands of inaccurate meters out there. And don’t be fobbed off by energy firms telling you that meters never go wrong.

We’ve also heard from Which? members who have found their meters running at double speed, dials turning when the gas supply is isolated and smart meters unable to communicate.

Do you think your gas or electricity meter is faulty? Or have you had your meters tested?

Useful links:

Gas meters and electricity meters – what you need to know
I think my energy meter is faulty, what can I do?

Comments
Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Admin

Here are some case studies for you from our investigation. George’s meter was running at double speed:

George had a new electricity meter installed in June 2012. But 10 months later, he noticed a dramatic rise in his consumption. He contacted his supplier, Scottish Power, to get a check meter installed, and found his original meter was running at about double speed. He was offered a refund for his overpayment. ‘It makes you wonder how many meters out there could be faulty,’ says George. ‘If you’re getting a new meter installed, keep a record of your meter readings before and after.’

Graham received a bill for over £3,000 for two month’s supply:

Graham had a Landis+Gyr gas smart meter installed by Eon in July 2011. In May 2013, he was shocked to receive a £3,300 bill for two months’ supply. He isolated the meter but found it continued to register. He said his new supplier Npower initially refused to believe the meter was faulty. After finding an expert himself who said the meter was so bad it couldn’t be tested, Npower removed the meter and a refund was sorted. Graham says: ‘The meter went completely haywire. If this happens to you, switch off all your appliances and take readings a few hours apart, keep past bills and take photos of your meter.’ Npower said it recalculated Graham’s bills, credited his account with a goodwill gesture of £150, and sent a letter of apology and a bouquet of flowers.

Admin
Kay De Vere-Burt says:
28 June 2016

I too received a bill from COOP energy for almost £4k . I told them this was impossible as there was only 2 people in the house. Next thing they put my bill in debt recovery!!!! After much complaining & toing & froing a wonderful man called Alex decided he was going to do something where the others said they would they did nothing! So the latest, a new meter has been fitted and the reading taken to discover the meter was running at almost double. He said I’m £600 in credit now as they’ve calculated the bill in a certain way. I’ve asked for them to forward the working out to me…sadly no offer of a bouquet…but i’m not finished yet.l

Admin
Aimee says:
19 February 2016

For once I have to congratulate EDF energy! Our smart gas meter started spitting out incredibly large numbers and kept turning even when no gas was used. EDF noticed and contacted us immediately to investigate why our usage had suddenly gone up 8 fold (they wondered whether we had installed a very large swimming pool and were heating it up). They stopped charging immediately and arranged for a new meter to be installed. Even though this took some time, we were consulted on how to calculate what our usage would have been and came to a fair outcome.

Profile photo of PhilipParish
Admin

You do not appear to have mentioned the effect that solar panels can have on electricity meter readings.

I had solar panels fitted last year, and noticed that when the panels are generating, the meter starts to run slow. When there is a net surplus current feeding into the grid, the meter runs backwards!

When I reported this to EON, they agreed that the meter needed changing and that they would arrange for this to be done. Nothing happened and after a few weeks I phoned them again and they gave me a date and time for someone to attend at my address. However no one turned up. At that point I did not see why I should keep chasing them up and did nothing further.

Now I have changed supplier to Ovo Energy, and the meter problems are continuing. I want to know whether I am under an obligation to start chasing this up again, or whether I can just wait until someone notices that there is something wrong with the readings. I expect that as the days get longer the panels will be generating more surplus electricity , and the meter reading may soon show a minus reading for a month.

What is my legal position as a consumer?

Philip Parish

Profile photo of SteveJordan
Admin

Hi Philip. You are legally required to get the meter changed. You are not being charged for the electricity you could be using. You are no doub’t claiming the Feed In Tariff you are getting paid at an assumed level of feed in rate which may not be correct based on your true usage of grid electricity. My supplier is SSE and they changed my meter in a few days from my only phone call to them. The point you make about negative meter readings will give concern to your new supplier. I think you should tell them as soon as!

Profile photo of DeeKay
Admin

There should be a generation meter fitted usually beside the inverters for the amount of RE generated, , ,Commonly known as the ROCs meter

If they are letting the meter run net net as such I’d not be after them in a hurry whether its the “right” thing or not. . .That is up to your utility to change and your utility has been informed.

I had net net for 15 years and it was great. . Cost me a b**** fortune when they changed it to import export type meter.
We had to relearn our entire consumption strategy. . .The grid was a great big battery whereas now we have to use it as we make it or give it away for a fraction of the import value

Profile photo of Ellie Simmonds
Admin

Hi Philip

Thanks for your comments. You might be interested to know you are not the only one who has experienced this!

We didn’t have space to cover the issues with solar panels in this most recent article, but we have looked into this before. Here’s a link to some information on our website about meters running backwards, I hope you find it interesting:

http://www.which.co.uk/energy/creating-an-energy-saving-home/guides/feed-in-tariffs-explained/meters-running-backwards/

Thanks
Ellie

Profile photo of SteveJordan
Admin

I had solar panels fitted which caused the original meter to go backwards when generating power from the sun. This has been rectified with a replacement not a smart meter. I have asked about smart meters and there is not one yet that works with solar panel systems or even economy 7 which we also have. I expect it will be nearer 2020 before we can have a smart meter.

Profile photo of lesleylock
Admin

I would also advise every one to check meter serial numbers on bills match their meters in their properties for both gas and electric.

Profile photo of John Ward
Admin

I wanted to vote for Lesley Lock’s comment above but a message came up saying I was not allowed to. Never had that before.

Profile photo of John Ward
Admin

The restriction seems to apply to comments from unregistered contributors!

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I’ve voted on your behalf, John.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Admin

Hi John, this relates to two things. As you were having trouble signing in (really sorry about that!), you were commenting and voting as a guest in this instance. Guests can vote on others comments, but they’re stopped on making multiple votes for the same comment by checking for their IP address (which is mostly unique to each computer). However, we had a problem recently where IP addresses were the same for everyone, which meant it blocked votes from guests. We’ve fixed that now. Thanks.

For others, if you have a problem with the website, please tell me about it here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/welcome-to-the-new-which-conversation/

Profile photo of John Ward
Admin

Thank you Patrick. It was all resolved by the following day. I knew there was a glitch at your end when I was getting two different avatars simultaneously [see above] and the timing was out of synch.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

Many years ago I learned that Weights & Measures inspectors checked the accuracy of petrol pumps, the optics in pubs and shopkeepers’ scales. I have never seen an inspector or known how often they do their inspections, but it’s reassuring. There are plenty of references to checking the accuracy of petrol pumps on the web. It seems very strange that we are all expected to trust our gas and electricity meters, which could have been inaccurate for many years. In 34 years, I have had my gas meter changed twice and the electricity meter replaced once. From the energy suppliers’ point of view inaccuracies may balance out, so it would not matter if my meter over-reads provided that someone else’s under-reads, but I’m not sure this is good enough. Maybe we should all be asking for our meters to be checked every five years.

It had not occurred to me that a smart meter might provide a way of checking the accuracy of our meters. But not everyone has one – or wants one.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

All measurement devices have a tolerance and these have been agreed for domestic energy meters. As is said, you get more gas for your money when it is cold if you meter is outside – denser gas, more heat per unit volume. So with meter tolerances some will win and some lose, but in a minor way – around 50 pence a week for an average user.

Checking meters every 5 years means checking around 200 000 meters every week. This would provide employment for around 3000 testers alone at a cost of around £180 million a year, adding about £8 to our energy bills (we will pay for it). Is the problem that big? Is simply checking for unusual readings not the simplest way. Maybe spot checks on the different makes and ages of meters to see if any pattern of inaccuracy has developed?

We have lost a great deal with the shrinking of the Trading Standards organisation partly as a result of the financial state of the country. We choose, rightly, such matters a social care to spend money on, at the expense of less “urgent” services. Maybe as the economy recovers these services could be restored. In TSO’s case it could be a good time to reform it into a well-funded national organisation with local officers to really look after consumers interests. Something I hope Which? would fight for.

Profile photo of John Ward
Admin

I presume there is nothing to stop a consumer from installing a check meter on their side of the supply and seeing if there is any discrepancy.

I am not so sure that the local authority consumer protection/weights & measures organisations do still carry out routine inspections and tests of metering, measuring and weighing devices. It is possible that for petrol pumps the specialist companies are quality-assured and authorised to carry out tests on the meters as part of the regular servicing [I seem to see the Gilbarco engineer at our local BP station quite frequently]. Pubs have so many new ways of relieving customers of their hard-earned nowadays that installing dodgy optics is no longer worth theeffort I should think. The brewery or pub-owning groups’ audit people probably do random checks [adulteration or substitution by counterfeit is an easier crime and probably rarely discovered].

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I do appreciate that checking the calibration of gas and electricity meters costs money and that will be passed onto consumers, but I wonder why petrol pumps are routinely checked – as I presume they still are – but not energy meters. Maybe it is because it is easy or because the fuel pumps are on the business premises and there is a greater risk of interference. It’s easy to buy a can of petrol and check the quantity at home. I have checked the weight of food sold by my local Tesco when we had a Convo about short measure being sold by supermarkets. As John says, it is possible to use your own meter, but that would only work for electricity. I cannot envisage a legal way of checking that your gas meter is performing correctly unless you are a Gas Safe registered engineer, so the only option is to ask for an official check.

Hopefully modern electronic meters are more accurate than the old mechanical variety.

Profile photo of John Ward
Admin

It could be that when gas and electricity meters have been tested the incidence of discrepancy is so low and infinitessimal due to the reliability of the equipment that it was deemed unnecessary to perform routine checks on all meters. Only a significant increase in billed consumption would alert the consumer to a malfunction. Notwithstanding present outrage at energy prices, throughout my life they have been a significant concern for millions of households. I should have thought the energy supply companies had an important stake in the accuracy of metering and would carry out tests on a representative sample as a matter of course.

As an aside I remember when that peculiar periodical Exchange & Mart always carried an advert on page 2 for coin-in-the-slot gas meters that landlords could fit on the domestic side of the supply so that tenants could be overcharged for their cooking and heating. That was long before the days of Corgi and Gas Safe registration of fitters and I can imagine that there were many dodgy installations. I am fairly sure that many were also fitted by gas board employees during their dinner breaks. Of course, this sort of thing would never happen today.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

Hopefully most gas and electricity meters are accurate. It would be interesting to know if there are any types that have a higher incidence of significant inaccuracies. When I was a teenager a friend (electrician) of my parents gave me a domestic electricity meter mounted on a mahogany stand. It had brown bakelite 13 amp plug on a short lead and had a socket to plug in portable items. Nowadays I have a compact electronic version that I’ve used to check how much power is used by printers etc left on standby. I could use this to check the accuracy of my meter if I wished.

In the early 80s I lived for in a rented flat while house hunting and discovered that the coin meter was set at three or four times the permitted rate. He blamed his electrician for making a mistake, which I discovered had been replicated in the adjoining flats. No wonder he could afford a Rolls Royce.

Profile photo of DeeKay
Admin

Where I am we regularly get charged for a requested meter replacement if the meter is found to be within tolerance so we have to be a little more cautious with our complaints/claims

I have tested within reason several electric meters and have never found one to read well above or below 1kwh for one 1kwh
It usually doesnt need rocket science to find the offending load and if the bills were high there always was a load.

Water is a big problem with farmers here but its easily checked as near all farmers have 1000L cubes laying around and even domestic water is easily checked with measures

I have always been taken aback at the speed with which people will blame the utility meter and not conduct a simple check that any DIY type person could do

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I can understand the reason for the charge, DK. Without it, householders could request that their meters are checked annually. But to be fair, if the householder does have to pay a charge for a meter that is inaccurate, the company should pay in the smaller number of cases where it is not within the prescribed accuracy. I agree about electricity and you are lucky having containers having containers that will hold a cubic metre of water, but despite your practical skills and more facilities than most of us, you might find it hard to check a gas meter unless you have been a naughty boy. 🙂

Profile photo of DeeKay
Admin

You can do a house water meter with 10l containers..Farms/commercial are on a different scale of water usage in comparison to domestic

I’d say Wave you have all the facilities and hardware and brains you need to check both your elec and water meters at least to the point to content yourself you are not paying more than 10% or more above what you really use

I have no notion of getting into gas meters. . We dont have mains gas within miles of here anyhow

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

DeeKay, quite agree. Water and electricity can be checked, if you have a little bit of knowledge. Gas is not easy for a householder, even with knowledge, so we will rely on significant changes, caused either by a faulty meter or a leak, to alert us to the possibility of a failure. A leak is easy to detect – no gas appliance switched on and burning, but the meter dials keep changing. But you most likely would have smelt it anyway.

Profile photo of cb47
Admin

Back in May 2014 I had to have a new gas meter installed since my smart meter’s digital display had stopped working, it was blank, so I could not submit meter readings. I had changed from Southern Electric (who installed smart meters for both gas & electric) to First Utility in July 2012. The new meter is a conventional one with analogue digits.
After viewing a “Watchdog” programme in November 2015 it prompted me to check my First Utility bills; I could not access my account on-line. I contacted First Utility very soon afterwards and found I was over £4,000 in credit, my direct debit had been processed regularly, but it turns out I had not been billed for energy use since 1st August 2013!!! To be honest I relied on emails telling me my bill was ready to view on-line and also on their reminders to submit meter readings that I had not been receiving.
I am still waiting for this to be sorted out four months on; however I have now been given a whole new account but First Utility are still struggling to bring my tariff into line to what it should be. My latest bill, dated 24th February 2016 still tells me I am over £4,000 in credit and now on their “iSave Fixed v4 March 2014” tariff. I cannot wait to find out exactly where I stand with payments!

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Admin

A story for you: An estimated 2.1 million people have been charged an average of £206 in the past year because they’ve been underpaying on their energy bill, with 15% facing charges of more than £250, according to Citizens Advice.

Read more: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2016/03/millions-stung-by-adjusted-energy-bills-435020/ – Which?

Profile photo of Dafydd
Admin

Ovo Energy is a Which recommended supplier and gets top marks from customers. Since having a smart meter fitted I’ve noticed a slight increase in my measured usage. When I told Ovo about this, they said that I could have the meter tested, but that if they found it accurate within their tolerances I would be charged nearly £90 for the test. I understand that this is standard policy with energy suppliers.
I think the attitude is wrong, because it dissuades customers from having their meters tested by the threat of a prohibitive charge should they not prove inaccurate.
I believe we should campaign to get the attitude (and if necessary the law) changed.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

From the Ovo website:
“How much does it cost to test a meter?
Testing an electric meter costs £89.25.
This is chargeable up-front – with a refund if the results come back showing the meter is faulty.
For gas, the meter is removed and exchange for a new one. The old meter is sent to SGS (an independent tester) – with an up-front cost of £138.32.
You’ll get a refund if the results come back showing the meter is faulty.”

https://www.ovoenergy.com/ovo-answers/topics/meters-and-meter-readings/what-can-i-do-if-my-meters-not-working.html

So it costs £138.32 to test a gas meter, and there is no way that a customer can make checks themselves, unlike an electricity meter.

Ovo state: “It is possible that there’s a mistake with your meter, and it’s saying you’re using more power than you really are. However, it’s incredibly rare. Because it’s so rare, we make an up-front charge for meter testing – which we refund if there is a fault.”

@esimmonds – From your article and what I have read elsewhere, I’m not convinced that it is incredibly rare for an energy meter to over-read, and perhaps Ovo should be taken to task over making a false claim.

More from the same page on the Ovo website: “If you think you meter might be faulty but don’t want to pay to get it tested? It might make sense to switch to an all-new Smart meter set up. We’ll install this with no charge, and you never need give a meter reading again.”

The inference is that a smart meter will be accurate. I remain to be convinced.

I agree with Dafydd that there is something wrong, and the problem has existed long before Ovo and smart meters were around.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

If your old meter was retained and you checked it against your smart meter a slight increase in measured usage may be down to allowable tolerances. A gas meter is allowed to record within +/-2%, and an electric meter within +2.5/-3.5% of actual to meet statutory requirements. Full information gov.uk/guidance/gas-meter-accuracy-and-disputes
gov.uk/guidance/electricity-meter-accuracy-and-disputes

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I don’t yet know much about smart meters but from speaking to house vendors it seems that the old meters are changed and the separate smart meter display provides a remote indication of meter readings and other information. I cannot see any way that a smart meter would offer any confirmation of the accuracy of the gas and electricity meters.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

I had assumed this but wonder why Dafydd thought the change in meter was the cause of a measured increase in consumption, unless they left his original gas meter so that he could compare two meters. Otherwise he might be just using slightly more gas.

Profile photo of Dafydd
Admin

Sorry, I should have explained that I don’t have gas, so my new smart meter measures only electricity.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I’m wondering what would be a fair compromise for consumer and energy supplier, Malcolm.

If there was no charge, some might want their meter checked annually, which would be expensive for the suppliers and would push up charges for everyone. On the other hand, a meter could over-read for many years. In 34 years I have had my gas meter swapped twice and electricity meter changed only once. The electricity meter readings seem reasonable, as far as I am able to tell. I don’t have a clue about the gas meter, though I did not notice a significant difference when the meter was changed. Any suggestions?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

I would like to see information on what proportion of meters fall outside the statutory tolerances to see just what the problem might be, if any at all, and whether a faulty meter only drifts slightly, or whether it becomes grossly inaccurate (which the user would easily spot). No justification in spending a lot of effort and money if it is insignificant – the Govt website says that instances of real inaccuracy are very rare.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I wonder how many people would know if their gas meter was over-reading by 50 or 100%. They might spot the problem if it happened suddenly but maybe not if the change was gradual or the fault was present when they moved into a house. Even if faulty meters are not common it seems a bit tough on the unlucky people who have one.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

If your gas meter read 50 to 100% too high I think you’d notice it in your bill! But is this likely? I’d like to know just what happens in practice – how inaccurate might defective meters be and just how many? Do they tend to under read or over read? SGS test these, so maybe they could be asked for information?

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

We are often left guessing because we have not been given the facts. 🙁

Even if we had detailed information, there would still be some people who are being overcharged – possibly for years – and have no way of knowing this unless they are prepared to pay for testing. There are some examples in this Convo.

I am also concerned that the requirements for accuracy of meters are not stricter. I cannot comment on the feasibility of making gas meters more accurate but from my experience of working with electrical equipment, +2.5/-3.5% is not very impressive.

Profile photo of John Ward
Admin

A six percent accuracy spread seems excessive. I would have expected meters to be accurate to within 0.5% either way. Correct and reliable instrumentation is available for numerous other applications these days.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

That would be reasonable for an electricity meter, but I don’t even know how a modern gas meter works, never mind the likely accuracy. I was surprised that a wider tolerance is allowed for an electricity meter.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Wiki says:
“Diaphragm/bellows meters

These are the most common type of gas meter, seen in almost all residential and small commercial installations. Within the meter there are two or more chambers formed by movable diaphragms. With the gas flow directed by internal valves, the chambers alternately fill and expel gas, producing a near continuous flow through the meter. As the diaphragms expand and contract, levers connected to cranks convert the linear motion of the diaphragms into rotary motion of a crank shaft which serves as the primary flow element. This shaft can drive an odometer-like counter mechanism or it can produce electrical pulses for a flow computer.

Diaphragm gas meters are positive displacement meters.”

Another link:
calibrate.co.uk/gas-meters-principles-of-operation/

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

The bellows meters seem little different from what is described in “The Wonder Encyclopaedia for Children”, dating from 1933. Wikipedia does mention other alternatives and I wonder what is lurking in my meter cupboard. Unlike its predecessor it does not issue strange noises when the boiler fires up.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Wiki showed a bellows meter dated 1900. However, if it has basic simplicity, robustness, durability and accuracy then maybe it’s still a good solution. Bellows (diaphragm) meters are listed by Ofgem for domestic and commercial use.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

My understanding is that the accuracy of bellows meters is lack of linearity, so the accuracy depends on flow rate. As far as I know, there is no form of temperature compensation, so the accuracy is dependent on ambient temperatures. The same meter could be installed in a warm cupboard or outside the house. We are now in the 21st century.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Temperature will affect the energy content per cubic metre – higher temperature gas will have fewer molecules per cu m so give you less energy. That is why it is best to have your meter outside (in a freezer might be good!).

Linearity of meters is considered in the statutory tolerances. Mechanical (domestic) meters must be within +/- 2% at maximum flow and at 20% of maximum flow. Electronic meters must meet the above and be within +/-3% at minimum flow (whatever that might mean – minimum would to me mean the lowest possible trickle).

“We are now in the 21st century”. But we still use 19th century technology to power most motor vehicles……………. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (is it broke/)

Profile photo of John Ward
Admin

When I read your note about diaphragm/bellows meters, Malcolm, a picture by W Heath Robinson formed in my mind. Our meter is in a box outside at ground level and is home to a range of creatures who weave their webs all over the meter and its display panel so the monthly meter reading is accompanied by a damp cloth to wipe it all clean again. So far as I am aware, in three years it has never been read by an inspector and my own readings have always been shown on the bills.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I expect that the spiders will upload the readings to their website if you ask them nicely, John.

Malcolm – My present car uses less than half the amount of fuel that my first one did, so sometimes there are benefits of more modern technology. I don’t know if newer technology would provide us with more accurate yet affordable gas meters but I hope that someone will look into this.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Electricity meter basic accuracy can be checked by attaching a standard load and disconnecting all others. I would have thought for gas meters a tapping point for attaching a test meter could be used to avoid having to remove the meter for testing. Then have a routine random test of meters, in situ, of different manufacturers to see whether there were significant inaccuracies that need investigation. None of this will identify those whose meters do read high, of course, unless you check all 22 million consumers, so no future there!

I see no way of ensuring we find out-of-tolerance meters unless they grossly over read; past testing shows that the majority of faulty meters under or over read by between 2-5% (gas). Our best bet is to monitor field performance and use the results to amend or tighten manufacturing specifications and testing.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I remember checking my parents’ electricity meter using the 3 kW immersion heater when I was a teenager, and doing another check with an electric heater. Even then I was aware that what is printed on the ratings plate of household electrical products is often quite inaccurate.

Making connectors available for testing with an external gas meter would make it easier for unscrupulous customers to bypass their meter. The best technical solution is to for the meter to have duplicate sensors etc and if a significant discrepancy occurs, to alert the consumer about a possible problem.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

The supply voltage also matters at the time of measurement. You should measure that, and the current through a resistive load, and then take account of the (declared) accuracy of those measuring instruments. So not simple unless it uncovers large discrepancies.

The gas meter tapping could have a seal, as on your electricity meter, to detect any tampering.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

A seal would be one way of achieving security. When I was shown round my present home in 1982 I noticed that the lead seals on the electricity connection blocks had been broken and was told that this was done when the electric shower was fitted some years before. I pointed it out to various meter readers and no action was taken. Eventually the seals were replaced when the meter was changed. I object to energy companies making it easy to cheat them.

Profile photo of DeeKay
Admin

When you add a known resistive load to an electric meter one needs to check the volts and amps when the load is on as it is seldom that the ideal voltage/rated voltage of the element will be present

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

That’s right, and with the supply voltage being 230 V +10% – 6%, life becomes more complicated for those without test equipment.

Admin

The people who comment about a colder gas meter delivering denser gas should be correct – but possibly only in a very limited way. The contents of an outside meter will be denser after a freezing night, but once the gas starts flowing gas will enter the meter at an underground temperature probably around 10 degrees C. The very brief time that the gas spends in the meter is unlikely to reduce its temperature to any significant extent before it enters the building.

What could be as or more significant is the supply operating pressure, for which the design target is 20mbar, although the range 19 to 23mbar is deemed acceptable. However, on cold winter early evenings, say about 5pm to 7pm, I have sometimes (as a registered gas engineer) found and reported lower pressures coming in, although as old cast iron gas mains are replaced with new plastic ones this problem is becoming rarer.

Gas at lower pressure will have a larger volume and consequently lower calorific value per cubic metre. If atmospheric pressure can be deemed to be an average of 1000mbar, then an operating pressure of only 10mbar instead of 20mbar would presumably equate to 1% less gas. However, an operating pressure of only 10mbar at the gas meter would be considered dangerous for any appliance without a flame failure device. The only time I’ve ever come across a pressure as low as that was when the pressure regulator by the gas meter had become faulty. If your gas meter has a pressure regulator with the word ‘Donkin’ on it that’s not the name of a medieval ball game but an indication that it’s an obsolete pressure regulator that needs replacing, so ring your gas supplier and make an appointment for it to be changed. If you have a Donkin pressure regulator and the flames on your gas hob are smaller than normal and/or self extinguish then turn off the gas at the gas meter and phone 0800 111999 and report it for more urgent replacement. Next time you have a boiler service you could always ask your service engineer to let you know what the operating pressure at the gas meter is, then if it’s below 20mbar get your calculator out and work out how much your gas supplier owes you! If it’s below 19mbar your service engineer (or yourself) should ask for it to be remedied.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

Fascinating, Peter. Who needs adult education when we have Which? Conversation? 🙂

My meter has a Sperryn regulator so hopefully that’s OK. I don’t remember its predecessor having an input regulator, but I may be wrong.

Profile photo of DeeKay
Admin

Peter from me also. . . Very informative from someone who knows. . . I like info from those who actually know because I can understand that information and you done a good job there
Good man, , It’s hard to beat facts

Admin
Mike says:
17 March 2016

I feel that I have gone through the reverse of this problem. I changed my gas and electric supplier to SSE/Atlantic to try for a better deal. On my second reading they accused me of having a faulty meter or altering it myself! I tried to tell them my house was insulated beyond question and were welcome to inspect it. The next letter said they were changing the meter I was the accused again. I threatened to go to court with engineers reports. 12 months later the meter was changed a second time but my bills have always remained the same. They just don’t like you paying a small amount. We finally sorted it , I told them to get an engineers report and take me to court for fraud and I would take them to court for slander. I have heard nothing since. Always stick up for yourself.