The importance of regular meter reads

lightbulb in soil


You will likely be aware of the UK government’s initiative to install smart meters in both domestic and commercial sectors.

There are already a number of smart meters in circulation and many more being rolled out. However, there are some inherent issues that have arisen over the last few years, which the industry is now trying to resolve. This is via the introduction of some industry standards.

Owners and Operators
Currently, should you wish to change suppliers (within the non-half hourly metered segment), not all smart meters can be transferred and guarantee retaining their “smart” status. This is partly due to communication compatibility issues. Another cause is the commercial agreements that exist between the meter owner, the meter operator and the energy supplier.Energy suppliers themselves do not necessarily own the meter. Some will have commercial arrangements with third party providers. Typically, a meter will have something to identify “Property Of” or “Owned by”. There may also be a sticker to identify the meter operator who installs and maintains the meter.It’s this underlying complexity and variety of arrangements that can impact the ongoing consistency of actual reads on a bill. When a contract moves supplier the arrangements a new supplier has may differ. Unfortunately, these are not always visible until after new supplier has gained the supply.

meter reads diagram

The Smart Energy Code
The good news is the industry is addressing these via The Smart Energy Code (SEC). The aim will be to have compatible meters which are fully transferable across all energy suppliers.In the meantime, AF are working closely with suppliers to promptly remedy those instances where smart meters are failing to provide actual reads. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions are having an impact on the timelines and priority given to this.In the interim, you will receive an estimated bill and we may ask you to take a read from the meter to ensure actual usage is in line with that billed.
The importance of taking regular actual reads
We know that having regular reads will help improve energy billing. We are working hard to identify where we have not seen supplier reads or had regular reads from members. Please help us to help you by taking reads regularly and responding to periodic requests for a meter read.- They help to protect you should the meter develop a fault. It will give us a log of reads which can be used to challenge any estimated bill that energy suppliers may try to justify.- They can help identify a faulty meter at a much earlier stage. This reduces the amount of corrective paperwork once remedied.- Improves your budgetary controls and stabilises cash flow by removing large catch-up bills or credits.

– Reduces the amount of incorrect/estimated bills that an energy supplier issues and, by extension, the amount of credits and rebills that are produced

The impact of not taking regular reads
After a prolonged period of estimated billing, the result of a supplier taking an actual read or you providing an actual read can be multiple credits and rebills. This is partly due to the obligation of the energy provider to reflect this usage fairly between actual reads. It’s not an exact science, as differing suppliers take differing approaches in how they apportion the usage between the previous and current actual reads. Where this crosses different contract periods and/or suppliers, it can be a complex and disjointed exercise with an equally tricky paper trail for members to follow at the end of it.
Photos of meters
On some occasions, we may request a photo of a meter and the readings – this is the most efficient way to resolve meter issues with a supplier. Please ensure photos include a clear view of the meter read displays and meter serial number. There is a good reason we ask for this as it gives us evidence to tackle the energy supplier.Software
Our validation software has additional checks to ensure member reads are considered 10 days prior to and 10 days after the bill period, as well as during the bill period. This helps to ensure estimated bills reflect actual reads.We are finalising an updated portal for member reads, which will give access to historic reads and half hourly data.

Contact us
If you need help with your meter reads or energy billing, please contact AF’s knowledgeable Energy team on 01603 881 818 or email

MAP Meter Asset Provider – The owner of the meter
MOP Meter Operator – installs and maintains the meter in working condition

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