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Published 28 September 2023
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Meter Reading Day: Do I Need to Do Anything?

The day before a change in the energy price cap has been dubbed ‘meter reading day’. But, with the price cap falling on 1 October, do you need to worry about sending a meter reading to your supplier?

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Energy prices are set for a modest fall on 1 October, giving some relief to many households across the country. But do you need to submit a meter reading as soon as possible to make the most of it?

Previous changes in the price cap have caused some panic, as many bill-payers rushed to send meter readings to their energy suppliers before prices went up to make sure they wouldn’t be charged over the odds. There were reports of websites crashing and lengthy call waiting times on the phone as throngs of customers fought to submit their readings at the same time.

But, as we approach the next change in the energy price cap, set by the energy regulator Ofgem, many of us may not need to worry about sending a meter reading to our energy supplier.

To start with, if you’re locked into a fixed-rate tariff, there’s no point sending in a reading as the change in the price cap won’t affect the rates you pay. You’ll continue to pay the rate on the deal you fixed.

But what if you’re one of the roughly 29 million households on a variable tariff that is affected by the changing price cap?

Do I need to submit a meter reading?

If you’re on an energy tariff that’s affected by the price cap, you’ll want to make sure that you start paying the lower rates when you’re meant to.

But, if you have a smart meter, your supplier should get your readings automatically. You can take a reading yourself, just to be on the safe side, but you don’t need to do this if your meter is working correctly.

If you’re on a prepayment meter (smart or not), you also don’t need to send a reading as you pay for your energy as you use it. A meter reading should be automatically sent to your supplier every time you top up. 

However, there’s no harm in taking a meter reading yourself if you want some extra peace of mind that your bills are accurate.

If you don’t have a smart meter, your supplier may ask you to submit a reading. Sending a meter reading can help ensure your bills are accurate, reducing the chances of your supplier overcharging you if it estimates that you used more energy at higher rates than you actually did.

But, even if you do need to send a reading, there’s no pressure to send it on 30 September before the price cap changes the next day. Sending a reading a few days before can help to improve the accuracy of your bill, or some suppliers may allow you to backdate a reading. This means you can take a reading on the last day of the month and submit it a few days later. It’s worth checking with your supplier that you can do this and, if you can, how long it allows you to backdate it.

Your supplier may also allow you to submit a meter reading in different ways, such as by text, via its app or by calling an out-of-hours phone line, which could help you avoid any long phone queues or website issues on the day itself. 

Is it time to get in the meter reading habit?

If your energy supplier doesn’t receive a recent meter reading close to the 1 October change, it will estimate your energy usage and calculate your bill based on this. It may not be fully accurate but it should be close, especially if you send regular readings to your energy supplier throughout the year.

An Octopus Energy spokesperson comments: “We totally appreciate that customers are very conscious of their energy costs and want to make sure they are being charged at the right rate – however, if a customer is sending us regular meter readings there’s not much benefit in sending us a reading on the day the price cap changes. 

“As long as they’ve sent us a reading in the last few weeks, then sending us a meter reading on the date itself might only save them as little as a few pence.”

If you don’t have a smart meter, it may be worth seeing if you can get one installed so your readings are sent automatically to your supplier. 

A spokesperson from OVO Energy points out: “The best way to ensure customers’ meter readings are as accurate as possible is to book a smart meter [instalment]. For customers who don’t have a smart meter we would advise giving regular meter readings to ensure their bills are based on actual usage.”

Submitting regular meter readings, not just when the cost of your energy is about to change, can help make sure your bills consistently reflect your actual energy usage and minimise the chances of your supplier wrongly estimating how much you use.

Image source: Getty Images

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