How to Read Your Business Electricity Meter

22 February 2017

How to Read Your Business Electricity Meter

Business electricity suppliers use meter readings to determine how much to charge you. Your supplier may send someone to do a meter reading, but they may not always be able to get access or they may not come regularly. Without a reading, your supplier will use an estimate to work out your electricity bill. Estimates often lead to inaccuracies, but you can avoid this by submitting your own electricity meter readings.

Reading a Business Electricity Meter

There are four main types of electricity meter in use in UK businesses:

  • Single rate digital meter
  • Two rate digital meter
  • Electronic meter
  • Dial meter

Digital meters can use two types of measurement: kWh or kVArh. The method of reading both meters is the same.

Single Rate Digital Meter

This is the easiest type of electricity meter to read:

  • Read the numbers left to right.
  • Include zeros.
  • Ignore anything with red. This includes numbers that are red or numbers in red boxes
  • Also ignore anything after a decimal point, if applicable.

Two Rate Digital Meters

Two rate digital meters are used if you are charged different prices for your electricity based on the time of day. You will see two rows on these meters. One will usually have a label such as "low", "off peak", or "night". The other will typically be labelled "normal", "peak", or "day".

If you have this type of meter, you have to read both numbers. The process for doing so is the same as reading the number on a single rate digital meter.

Electronic Meter

Electronic meters usually have two rates. You access the rates by scrolling through the screens. The screens will be labelled something like R1/R2, 1/2, L/N, Low/Normal, or Peak/Off Peak.


To read an electronic meter, press the blue button to rotate the screens. You can ignore the red button if there is one. On each screen, write down the numbers left to right. Ignore anything in red or anything after a decimal point.

Dial Meters

Dial meters are more complicated to read than other types of meter, not least because the dials move in different directions. Here's how you do it:

  • Read from left to right.
  • Most dial meters have six dials. You only need the first five, however, so can ignore the last one, which is often in red or labelled 1/10.
  • If the pointer on a dial is between two numbers, use the lower one. There is one exception to this however: when the pointer is between 0 and 9. In this situation, use 9.
  • If the dial is clearly pointing to one number, this is the one you should use. Again, there is one exception to this rule. This occurs when the next dial is a 9. In that case, you have to take one away. For example, let's say the five dials read "3-7-2-9-6", with the third dial pointing directly at the 2. As the next dial is 9, you subtract one. The reading becomes "3-7-1-9-6".

Most commercial electricity suppliers will advise you to send a meter reading once a month. This is the best way to keep your electricity bills as accurate as possible.

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