What is a Gas Meter?

If your meter only has 4 numbers to the left of any numbers in red then your meter is an older imperial-type meter. If your meter has 5 numbers to the left of a decimal point or space then you have a newer-style metric meter.

Generally, the older-type imperial gas meters measure in cubic feet and the newer digital metric meters measure usage in cubic meters. Although your meter measures usage in cubic meters or feet, if you have a look at your suppliers bill, you may notice that you're actually billed in kWh.

A gas meter is a specialised flow meter, used to measure the volume of fuel gases such as natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. Gas meters are used at residential, commercial, and industrial buildings that consume fuel gas supplied by a gas utility.

It's important to take accurate gas meter readings to avoid over or underpaying for your energy.

If you don’t give regular readings, your supplier will base your bills on how much gas it assumes your using, and this estimate can be inaccurate, to the point where it costs you money - overpaying could mean you struggle to pay your energy bills, while underpaying could quickly see you fall into debt with your energy supplier.

It’s also really handy to know how much you actually use so that you’re more capable of switching suppliers once your contract is up.

And you also need to be aware of what type of gas meter you have, to ensure you’re being charged correctly. If you're considering an energy switch, it’s always good to know what types of meters you have and let your supplier know.

In general, reading a gas meter is very similar to reading an electric meter, but as we have discussed above, as opposed to being in kWh, the usage is stated as cubic meters or cubic feet (M³ or ft³), although it’s later stated as kWh on your bill. If your meter only has 4 numbers to the left of any numbers in red then your meter is an older imperial-type meter. If your meter has 5 numbers to the left of a decimal point or space then you have a newer-style metric meter.

There are a number of gas meter types on the market, all of which vary slightly in their basic design. However, a set of numbers will be clearly displayed no matter the type. From dial to digital (unless it’s a smart meter which automatically sends its readings to your supplier), you must write down these numbers along with the date and time they were taken and submit this information to your energy supplier. Another option is to take a photo with your smartphone and upload it automatically by email or mobile app. Gas meters also display a unique identification number called a Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN). Check with your supplier to find out the easiest way to record and submit gas readings. 

What is the Difference Between Metric or Imperial Gas Meter?

Imperial meters measure gas in cubic feet and usually will have the words "cubic feet" or the letters ft3 shown on the front of the meter. Imperial meters should have 4 numbers to read.

Metric meters measure gas in cubic meters and will state "cubic meters" or display M3 on the front of the meter. Metric meters should have 5 numbers to read.

Digital Meters

Digital metric meter

Digital metric gas meters measure gas usage in cubic meters (m3) and usually show 'M' or 'M3'.

1. Write down all the numbers before the decimal point, left to right.

Digital metric gas meters measure gas usage in cubic meters

2. Ignore any numbers after the decimal point (which may be shown in red).

Digital imperial meter

This is an older style of gas meter that measures gas in cubic feet (ft3) - it will usually show the words 'cubic feet' or the letters 'Ft'.

1. Write down the four numbers from left to right.

2. Ignore any numbers shown in red.

Dial Meters

This type of gas meter shows a series of clock-style dials with numbers from zero to nine.

This type of gas meter features clock-style dials numbered from 0 to 9

1. Start with the left dial and write down the number indicated by the pointer, moving towards the right. If the pointer is between two numbers, record the lower of the two. However, if the pointer is between nine and zero, record it as nine.

2. Ignore any red dials.

This type of meter has a series of clock-style dials with numbers from zero to nine.
Each dial turns in the opposite direction to the dial before it.
To take a reading, start with the left dial and write down the number indicated by the pointer on each dial, moving towards the right.
If the pointer is between two numbers, record the lower of the two.
If the pointer is between nine and zero, record it as nine. Ignore any red dials.

What determines the size of the gas meter I need?

Each meter has a maximum amount of gas that can flow through it, this flow of gas is known as the peak hourly load. The peak hourly load is the key to finding out what size meter you need, depending on your required peak hourly load you may need a smaller or larger meter.

How to take a reading on a smart meter

You don't need to take any readings with a smart meter, it will do that automatically. But if you want them for your own peace of mind, you can still get them.

How to tell if your gas meter is faulty

It’s not uncommon for the gas reading to be slightly more or less than your estimated amounts, but what should you do if there are wider fluctuations? If the meter reading seems wrong, you might need to contact your supplier to send an engineer out to take a closer look at your gas meter. Under UK law, gas meters must report within a 2% accuracy rate. If the supplier sends someone out to test your meter and finds it to be faulty, it can be fixed or replaced. Meters can be sent away to an independent laboratory or tested at your home, depending on the case. Keep in mind that although the testing is free, some suppliers will charge for the cost of replacement. 

*Gas is extremely dangerous so care must be taken when working around any gas appliances or supply pipes.