Types of gas and electricity meter

Standard credit meter

Standard gas or electricity meters require you to submit meter readings. Your energy supplier may estimate how much energy you use.

You may end up paying for more energy than you use if you use if you are set up on estimated billing. Amend estimated bills by providing your supplier with an actual meter reading. Supply meter reading corrections over the phone or online. See ‘How to take a meter reading’.

Quarterly readings can be arranged for you if you are of pension age or disabled, through the Priority Services Register. Your meter could be re-positioned if you are disabled and it is difficult for you to reach your meter. Speak to your energy supplier to see if they can offer this for free.

Gas meter
Variable rate meter

Variable rate credit meter

Variable or off-peak electricity credit meters record different tariffs at different times of the day or night. Electricity during the night is usually cheaper than during the day. Economy 7 is the most common type of variable rate credit meter. The standing charge for an economy 7 meter is usually higher than that for a standard credit meter – you should contact your supplier if you are unsure of your standing charge as this varies from supplier to supplier.

You can save money by using electrical appliances during the night if you are on Economy 7. Timer can be used to ensure appliances are in use during the cheapest tariff period. The daytime rate on an Economy 7 is usually higher than the rate on a standard credit meter, and so you should aim to use as little energy during the day as is possible.

Prepayment meter

There are many types of prepayment meters including card and key meters. Some prepayment meters can operate with Economy 7 and other variable rate tariffs.

Key meter

Key meter

This meter comes with a ‘rechargeable key’ which you can top up (usually at a post office or shop). Your key is electronically coded with the amount you have paid, so that when you insert the key in to the meter, the amount of fuel you have bought is registered.
If you run out of credit on your meter you will be self-disconnected as no energy will be available until you make a payment. You may be allocated a certain amount of ’emergency’ credit.

card meter

Card meter (Quantum)

Gas Quantum meters use an electronic card prepayment meter. It is charged by an electronically coded ‘Gascard’. It is encoded with your reference number and the meter’s serial number so that gas cannot be purchased for a different meter. The card reads the meter and passes the reading on to the charging point when you next purchase credit.

token meter

Token/coin meters

Electronically coded tokens (usually in amounts of £5) can be purchased from local shops and post offices. Your account is credited every time you purchase a token. When the token/card is inserted into the meter, the amount will be transferred to your account, and the token will be cancelled.
Most token meters have been replaced with key meters.