Your energy meter is the key to ensuring that you are billed fairly and accurately for the utilities you use. There are numerous types of meters in and outside UK homes from traditional induction meters to digital static meters and (increasingly) smart meters. They keep track of every kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy used so that your bills are based on your usage rather than estimates.
Reporting your meter readings every month is the key to ensuring that you are billed accurately for your electricity and gas. This is especially important during the cost of living crisis when many households are struggling with escalating energy costs.
Like any machine, however, your energy meter is subject to wear and degradation. Over time, it may start to work less efficiently or become subject to errors. This can lead to reporting inaccuracies and other inefficiencies.
Which begs the question, how often should you replace your meter?
Meter Certifications: What Consumers Need To Know
How do you know when your meter is nearing the end of its life? How do you know when it is at risk of becoming inefficient or inaccurate? That’s where meter certifications come in.
Under national legislation, every energy meter in the country has to be certified before it can be installed by a professional. Every meter is allocated a certification life, this is the amount of time that a meter is allowed to remain on the wall after its initial certification.
Essentially, certification acts as a “best before” date for energy meters. Certification is carried out by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), or other authorised examiners employed by manufacturers and repair companies that are authorised to self-certify.
When is My End Of Meter Lifetime?
A meter’s lifetime depends on the type of meter. When it comes to electric meters, you can typically expect to get 10 years from an induction meter, or up to 20 years from a static meter. Similarly, gas meters can range from anywhere between 10 and 25 years. Water meters generally last between 15 and 20 years.
If your meter reaches the end of its certification period, don’t be alarmed if your supplier has not contacted you to arrange a replacement. In conjunction with the OPSS, suppliers run service testing each year. This requires the spot-checking of different types and ages of energy meters. Depending on the results of these checks, a meter’s certificate may be extended beyond the certification date written on the meter box when it was first manufactured or installed.
How Do I Know If My Meter Is Broken?
If your meter is broken or damaged, it may cease to report your energy usage accurately. This may lead to much higher bills (which nobody needs in the current circumstances). As such, if your meter is close to the end of its lifetime, you should be extra vigilant and keep an eye out for signs that your meter is broken.
Old, Worn Or Damaged Meter Boxes
Meter boxes protect your meter from the elements, as well as accidental damage or vandalism. They are typically made from either metal or plastic and are essential in ensuring a healthy lifespan for your meter. Sometimes they are wall-mounted, and other times they are at ground level. If yours is dented, broken, or fails to open and close, it may be a precursor to problems with the meter itself.
No Power Or Gas
If you find yourself without gas or electricity but there have been no reports of outages in your area (network operators are legally obliged to give you notice of planned outages) this may point to a problem with your meter.
Many meter manufacturers today avoid the old-fashioned dial display for a digital interface. While usually fairly simple, this provides a way for energy consumers to know if there is a fault or error that requires attention.
Surge In Usage
Needless to say, many households have noticed a rise in energy bills this year as the energy price cap rises to historic highs. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to check your meter regularly. If your usage in kWh seems much higher than usual and is disproportionate to your actual use, this could be a sign that something is awry with your meter.
Do I Have To Pay For A Replacement Meter?
Whether or not you need to pay to replace your gas, electricity or water meter depends on the reason for its replacement. If your meter has been investigated and found to be faulty or has reached the end of its certification period, your energy supplier will replace it for you free of charge. If you have requested a smart meter, your supplier will also replace your meter free of charge. There may be other circumstances where your supplier will replace your meter without a charge. For instance, over time, some meters can become susceptible to moisture ingress, and condensation may obscure your view of the display meaning that you are unable to gain a reading.
Unless there is a legitimate reason to replace your meter, however, you will have to pay for the meter and its installation. Remember that it is both illegal and extremely dangerous to attempt to replace your own meter.
If you do not already have a smart meter, now is the perfect time to get one. Now, more than ever, households need to know that they will be accurately charged for the energy they use. If your meter is reaching the end of its lifetime, replacing it with a smart meter can provide decades of accurate billing and peace of mind without having to pay for a replacement meter.
How Can I Help My Meter Last Longer?
The key to ensuring the longevity of your meter is ensuring that it gets adequate protection from the elements. Extreme temperatures and moisture ingress can accelerate the wear and degradation of the parts within your meter. This is why it’s important to invest in a sturdy over box. As well as protecting your meter from the elements, it also prevents unauthorised access and reduces the potential for accidental damage or deliberate vandalism.