How to read your energy meter

If you’ve been given an estimated energy bill you may need to take your own reading of your meter to submit to your energy provider. Use this simple guide to review your energy bill and notify your energy provider of your reading.

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Getting an estimated energy bill can be tricky

There are a few things we can always count on happening with certainty. The sun will rise, time will tick and electricity bills will be sent out. Receiving your latest energy bill shouldn’t take you by surprise - you’ve probably been expecting (dreading) it. However, if you’ve been the recipient of an estimated energy bill, then there is a good chance your bill might have thrown you off balance a little. 

Getting an estimate can be a little confusing. In fact, it’s normal for a number of thoughts to race through your head. How did they calculate this estimate? They have certainly missed something, this doesn’t look like my usual bill. How do I check to see if it’s correct? Energy providers send out estimates when they can’t be 100% certain on the correct amount to bill you. For example, your meter reader might have been delayed in transmitting data to your provider, or they may not have been able to access your meter to do a manual reading. In those cases they calculate an estimate based on your last bill and standard data they have about similar households to yours. 

None of us want to be paying for more energy than you have used. At the same time, paying less could mean your next bill could be exceptionally high. What you want is a bill that accurately reflects your energy consumption. Thankfully, you’re not completely at the mercy of your energy provider and their estimates! If you have received an estimated energy bill, the best way to make sure you’re paying the right amount is to conduct your own reading of your energy meter.

What do you need to know?

How do I read my energy meter?    

How you read your energy meter will depend on a number of factors. Not all energy meters are the same, so not all readings will be done the exact same way. A few things to consider are: 

  • Where is my meter located? (this will differ based on the kind of building you live in)
  • Do I have a gas or electric meter (or both)?
  • Is my meter analog or digital? 
  • Are there any potential hazards I need to be aware of when accessing my meter?
  • What is the serial number on my meter? (make sure it’s identical to the serial number on the bill).  

Digital energy meter reading

All energy meters read from left to right, either with an analog display, or a digital readout. Although, most meters will have either an odometer style dial or a digital dial with a set of numbers. These numbers are pretty easy to read. Just take a look at the numbers displayed on the screen and note them down or take a photo. Then, you can check your energy bill to see how it compares. 

Clock style energy meter reading

If you have an older meter, then it might look like a series of 'clocks', which can be a little more tricky to read. To read a ‘clock’ style meter, you will need to see where the dial points are placed. If they are in between two numbers, write down the lower number. You will read this dial from the left to right as well. 

Again, when you take a look at the numbers, you’ll be able to determine how close the estimate on the bill was. Always remember to take a picture once you’ve gotten a reading- this will be useful when providing evidence to your energy provider about the reading on the meter.

Why do I need to read my energy meter?

Learning to read your energy meter is a useful skill.

When you receive an estimated energy bill you’re entitled to contact your provider to give them your own reading of your energy meter. Provided you give them this reading in time, your energy provider will have to take this reading into account and may issue you a revised bill if your reading differs from their estimate. 

The practice of allowing consumers to conduct a reading of their energy meter balances the interest of energy providers and consumers. It allows energy providers the flexibility to send out an estimate where they can’t read a meter, while consumers retain the right to get their bill adjusted if they decide to do their own reading. 

You don’t always need to take a look at the energy meter if you get an estimate - it’s perfectly fine to accept the estimate you have received and pay the bill with the amount that has been provided. However, there might come a time when you receive that one bill that just doesn’t seem right, and that’s when you need to take a look at your energy meter yourself.

Just a bit more

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) recommends a ‘smart meter’. A smart meter is an energy meter that uses a digital system as opposed to an analog one. This way, the numbers are displayed on the screen and will be automatically transmitted to your energy company. It’s perfectly safe and is slowly on its way to becoming the new standard for energy meters in Australia. All new premises are required to have a smart meter. If an old meter needs to be replaced, there’s a requirement for it to be changed to a smart meter. Currently, only 25% of NSW premises have a smart meter.

What can you do?

Talk with your energy provider

Now that you have a record of your energy reading, you will need to get in touch with your energy provider to get the amount on your bill adjusted. The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) administers regulations regarding small customers (households) providing their own reading of their meters in order to get their bill adjusted. A few key things to keep in mind, according to the AEMC include: 

  • Ensure you submit your reading of the meter prior to the due date of the bill. 
  • It's up to consumers to follow their energy provider’s process when submitting a reading of their energy meter. 
  • Energy providers need to include a list detailing what they have based the bill estimate on. 
  • An energy provider is required to reasonably consider the consumers request for an adjustment based on their reading.
  • If a customer has provided their own reading of the energy meter, then in most circumstances the energy provider is required to adjust the bill in line with the reading.  

In accordance with the rules provided by the AEMC, once you’ve followed the correct process and you have reached out to your energy provider, you should generally expect to receive a reply from your provider within 14 days, but this will differ depending on the provider. Usually, energy providers will adjust the bill in light of your reading or they will provide reasons as to why they cannot. For example, if the reading was inaccurate. 

It’s in the best interest of consumers and businesses for consumers to provide their own readings of their meters when they don’t agree with a bill. So, as long as you send out your reading in a timely manner and follow your energy provider's process for this matter, you should expect to hear back from them with an adjustment. 

If you need any assistance, we’re happy to help here at Ajust. We can follow up on the issue for you and keep you in the loop. Get started by filling in the relevant details. 


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