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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?

Carol says:
8 November 2020

Hi my smart meter is costing me a fortune with my electricity and bristol energy are want £90 pounds to send our a engineer but one off their people are saying am paying to much im at my wits end i have major health problems

Joe says:
1 March 2021

It’s very depressing I’m having trouble with EDF and erroneous meter readings. I already suffer from depression and anxeity.

Louise E says:
20 January 2021

We have a smart meter, our gas consumption for last two months was 11,000kw (compared to 12,000kw for a normal house per year), this consumption is huge, likewise with our electricity – 2500kw (compared to 3000kw for a normal house per year). Can’t seem to open your link above “I think my energy meter is faulty, what can I do?” – how do I go about finding out if there’s a fault somewhere or why the consumption is so high. Thanks

Hi Louise – Here is a recently updated article from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/cutting-your-energy-bills/article/gas-meters-and-electricity-meters-what-you-need-to-know-apF6D9d1JKEz

It’s difficult to check that a gas meter is accurate but with an electricity meter it’s easy to turn everything off and to check how much is recorded if you use a 1kW heater or a 3kW immersion heater for 30 minutes or more. Remember to turn the fridge and freezer on afterwards. You can also check the meter reading and compare that with the smart display unit.

If your figures are less than for a normal house there might not be a problem.

Louise, have you checked the physical readings on the actual meter displays to see if they tally with your smart meter? If these differ I would submit them to your supplier and raise a complaint. It seems unlikely that both gas and electric meters have become faulty so the fault may lie in the smart meter. Just a guess.

If you have lived in the house for a year or two you can check past readings to check just how unusual your current ones are and inform your supplier accordingly.

Malcolm – Unfortunately your terminology is wrong. The smart meters are connected to the gas and electricity supplies in place of conventional meters and send this information by radio signals to the energy company.

The small portable in-home display receives information wirelessly from the smart meters and provides a convenient display of usage, etc. It does not even have to be switched on for the smart meters to work”. https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/smart-meters/article/smart-meters-explained/what-is-a-smart-meter-artlW8n6atdo

My smart meters each have a digital display of total useage. The meters can be read manually and the readings submitted online.

“Louise, have you checked the physical readings on the actual meter displays to see if they tally with your smart meter?” does not make sense to me and seems confusing.

We seem to have gone back 6 weeks. I am assuming Louise is complaining about being billed for what she sees as excessive consumption of both gas and electricity, readings supplied direct to her energy company from her smart meters. Therefore it is possible the smart meters are sending incorrect information. So, on the assumption she has meters as I have with digital readouts on the meter she can check to see whether they agree with the billed readings. It is most unlikely that both that type of meter has failed at the same time so it suggests either the smart bit is not so smart or, for some (unlikely) reason, an excessive consumption has occurred.

We seem to gave heard nothing further from Louise.

Hello, last month my gas meter was 55m3 and I paid just less than £30 pounds for it. This month I tried to submit my meter reading and when I checked the credit meter, it was 178m3 which would be costing close to or more than £70 by my estimations. That more than double, almost 3 times the usage last month and our usage this January is pretty much the same. We are a household of 2 and we only have gas for central heating and hot water from the taps. I’m thinking the reading/gas meter is faulty because even when I tried to submit this reading on the website, an error message came up asking me to double check as the value was too high. I can’t smell gas as far as I can tell and I turned on the heating briefly to monitor the numbers on the meter and they were moving incredibly fast.

I’m going to call the company tomorrow as it is a ridiculous reading.

Hi Oma, I think January has been a lot colder than December, so I expect you will have used more gas.

Averaged over the year, my consumption is about 24m3 but so far I have used 63m3 in January. I live on my own, so I expect a typical two person household will have used more gas than that. That said, 178m3 still sounds to be on the high side.

You do also seem to be on a very expensive tariff. Having shopped around recently, my latest fix term contract is charging me about £12 a month for 24m3 gas, including standing charges.

If you are not tied in to your current gas supplier, you should think about moving. I use the “Switch with Which?” website and look for members if the energy switch guarantee scheme.

Joe says:
1 March 2021

I’ve just had a bill from EDF saying that I used 3300KW of electricity from October to February (19 weeks). I’ve noticed that they think I’m using between 15KW and 35KW per day. When I only use about 60KW per week, the ‘smart’ meter is recording the amount of electricity correctly as I can see on the meter screen. However, it’s sending erroneous information to EDF. On Friday 26th Feb the customer advisor I spoke to said that my electricity meter was reading 19671, yet on the meter screen it was reading 7233. I’ve noticed that the mobile connection is very weak at about -85dBm. EDF must be getting more noise than signal. It’s very worrying when EDF says I owe £500 for electricity used. I read the energy meters every week. For the period from October to February, I owe about £170. The double whammy is they have increased the monthly payments from £65 to £184 which I cannot afford as I and my brother are unemployed. We only have the basic electrical appliances, TV, Washing machine, small box freezer and a fridge. It’s impossible to use the amount of electricity EDF is saying we are using.

Hi Joe,

Have you spoken to EDF about this problem?

I see they have a webpage that allows you to use an online chat service, see:-https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/help-centre/faq/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-faulty-gas-or-electricity-meter

They also give some customer service phone numbers here:-https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/help-support/contact-us

It seems you can also write to them at: FREEPOST, EDF Energy, Plymouth

I have a first generation smart meter for my gas. It has never worked as a smart meter so I submit readings to my supplier online. It has recently stopped working (the display is blank and an intermittent alarm sounds). My provider advises that they are still determining their policy for smart meter rollout and cannot repair or replace it in the meantime. They hope to have a policy later this year for rollout in 12 months and propose to bill me solely on the basis of estimates until then.

Hi Kirsty – If you are referring to the (smart) gas meter rather than the display unit not working then I suggest you contact your supplier and insist they replace it promptly. If they refuse you can complain to Ofgem, the regulator: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/complain-about-your-gas-or-electricity-bill-or-supplier

I suggest that while your smart meter problem is being resolved you take meter readings once a month and send those to your supplier through your online account. That way you avoid estimated bills.

16 April 2021

Hi I used British Gas for my electricity from 2002. Fora 3 bed semi 1970s house, loft insulation, double glazed, gas central heating and cooker. Electric shower, small fridge, 2 kw heater, washing machine. tv and radio. Single person occupancy. Bills from B.G were erratic and often very high. Final bill before I cancelled B.G. for SSE was 2667 KwH for Dec 7 to March 6. total 91 days. amount £461. 12. of which I was in Australia for 37 days with the house unattended except for 2 security lights and a dehumidifier both on short timer setting. Taking into account my time away this would have been 54 days at home with a daily consumption of 49.3 KwH per day. Sometimes this has been as high at 50 KwH per day for months during the past recorded 6 year period. . Can anyone suggest the reason for this fluctuations and high alleged consumptions. Meter fitted was a LONDIS E470. thanks Derek