Reading gas meters and electricity meters is a simple task, but one that can help avoid a lot of financial turmoil.
Regularly reading your gas and electricity meters will prevent you from paying too much for your energy bills, or from paying too little.
While paying less for your utilities may sound like a good thing, deficits can accumulate and lead to an unmanageable bill later on.
Unless you have a prepayment meter, your energy supplier(s) will estimate your energy consumption, and this is usually based on your past usage.
If you normally receive estimated bills then most energy suppliers will require that your meter is read at least once annually.
For accurate bills every time, you should read your meters on each occasion that you receive a bill and provide your energy supplier(s) with your readings.
The bill will then be recalculated and reissued. That way, you only pay for what you use and can avoid larger bills later.
When your meter is read, your energy supplier will calculate the difference between the current reading and the previous one to work out your bill
With a pre-payment meter, you pay for energy as you use it by topping up with a key, smartcard or token.
Although prepayment meters are designed to help people control how much they spend on gas and electricity, they are commonly accepted as being one of the most expensive payment options.
Your gas and electricity bills are calculated on the basis of how many units of energy you use. You may also pay a standing charge.
When your meter is read, your energy supplier will calculate the difference between the current reading and the previous one to work out your bill.
If your meter isn't read then your usage will be estimated - and if this is inaccurate it means you may pay more, or have more to pay on future bills.
The actual amount you pay for each unit of gas or electricity will depend on your price plan and pricing structure.
When you receive a gas or electricity bill, it will contain:
Energy suppliers offer discounts to customers who pay for their gas and electricity by direct debit.
When you pay by direct debit you can usually choose between a fixed direct debit, where you pay the same amount on a monthly or quarterly basis, or a variable direct debit, where you pay at regular intervals based on your energy consumption.
If you prefer not to pay by direct debit then you have the following payment options: