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Hundreds of thousands of faulty energy meters in Britain, suggests report from Which?

Posted by Anna Carlini on 16 March 2016 at 2:05 pm

A report by Which? magazine has found that potentially hundreds of thousands of energy meters throughout the UK may be malfunctioning. Both electricity meters and gas meters have been found to be faulty, leading to incorrect bills and over or undercharging. On average 24% of gas meters tested since 2006 have either been running too fast or too slow, which suggests energy meters are not as trustworthy as we once thought.

Under UK law, gas meters should be within 2% accurate and electricity meters must be accurate within the limits of +2.5% and -3.5%. Energy meters found to be outside of these brackets must be replaced by the supplier.

Meters running too fast, meters running too slow

The Which? report found that many meters are running too fast, too slow, or were incorrectly installed. In total 21,243 gas meters were tested between 2006 and 2014 and 24% of these have been running at the wrong speed. 7% of the 2,345 disputed electricity meters tested since 2003 have also proved to be running too fast or too slow, installed incorrectly, not of an approved type or had a fault that meant they couldn’t be tested. It was also found that 16% of the timed meters in the survey had clocks that were telling the incorrect time. Which? says that meters don’t often go wrong, 'but with 53 million of them in Great Britain, there could still be hundreds of thousands of inaccurate meters out there'.

How to spot a faulty meter

Knowing these alarming figures, how can you spot a faulty meter? The easiest answer is to keep an eye on your bills. Anything unusual or any dramatic differences in their size may indicate an unreliable meter. Unusual readings and anything out of the ordinary should be monitored and investigated. If you are on a ‘time-of-use’ tariff then an incorrect clock will lead to inaccurate costs for energy. If you believe your meter may be faulty, keep records of your meter readings; this may later help you argue your case. We suggest you:

  1. Monitor and investigate any unusual rise in your bills
  2. Make sure the clock reads the right time
  3. Test your meter by switching off all your appliances, take readings a few hours apart, check if these readings are different
  4. Keep past bills and take photos of your meter as evidence

Ask your energy supplier to test your energy meter

If you think your meter is faulty, get in touch with your supplier and ask them to test it. But be warned: you may have to fight your corner. Energy suppliers may tell you that meters never go wrong, but clearly some do. Getting your meter changed may not be free. Although the actual test should cost nothing, suppliers can charge for removing and replacing your disputed meter. For the Big Six companies, this varies from being free of charge to £262 which will only be refunded if your meter turns out to be inaccurate. If you are getting a new meter installed, keep a record of your meter readings before and after the installation.

So, don’t let energy suppliers put you off investigating if you think your meter is faulty. keep a good record of your bills and meter readings and remember to check if you are owed a refund.

Read Which?'s report here: Can you trust your gas meter or electricity meter?

Photo: twinkletuason


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