/ 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?


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.

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

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.


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


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!


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


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:




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.


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


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.


The restriction seems to apply to comments from unregistered contributors!


I’ve voted on your behalf, John.


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/


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.