Ofgem energy price cap: how to take a gas and electricity meter reading

Households with non-smart meters should take meter readings at least once a month to ensure they pay what they should with their energy bills.

Energy meter reading day: a person takes a meter reading
Energy meter reading day is on Easter Sunday or Easter Monday
(Image credit: © Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Energy meter reading is a key thing to do if you don't have a smart meter installed in your home - particularly when the Ofgem energy price cap changes.

On 1 April, the price cap tumbled by more than 12%. It means the average household's gas and electricity bill is set to be £20 a month cheaper than it was between January and March.

Energy prices could go down again as 2024 progresses, with the price cap expected to fall 7.7% in July. By taking a meter reading and sending it in to your supplier either slightly before or on 1 July, you can ensure that you will not be charged the old price cap rate.

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The next price cap change is likely to affect around 29 million households, given fixed-rate deals are still struggling to compete with the cap.

It comes as Ofgem has opened a consultation on the future of the price cap to ensure it continues to protect consumers in the net zero age. Although energy bills are falling, several other bills have recently gone up - including council tax and broadband costs.

Energy meter reading day explained

Suppliers work out your bills in two ways. They either take your smart meter readings, or your submitted readings, and base what you pay directly on your usage. Or, if you don't have a smart meter and don't submit readings, they will estimate how much you should pay.

The latter option is not ideal, given it could mean you're paying more than you should be for your energy. Even if the figure comes in lower, it could land you with a large bill at a later date.

By submitting a meter reading before the price cap drops on 1 July - ideally the day before, on 30 June - it means your energy company cannot charge you at the higher rate for any units that have been used after that date. So, by taking a meter reading you’re ensuring you’re not overcharged based on your supplier’s estimate.

It’s generally a good idea to take meter readings down and submit them every month anyway - particularly given smart meters can be glitchy. You don’t need to worry about doing so if your smart meter is working properly in smart mode, you’re on a fixed-rate tariff, or you have a prepayment meter.

How do I take an energy meter reading?

Generally, to take a reading, you will need to send in five numbers to your supplier. On a single-rate meter (the most common kind), these are generally the first ones you come across when reading the number from left to right.

Most meters helpfully have a red zone, which includes numbers you do not have to record. But they can look a bit different. For example, a dial meter may point to several numbers on different faces. These still need to be read from left to right.

The process is a bit simpler with a functional smart meter, as the digital display should give you the relevant numbers fairly easily.

Once you have your reading, head to your supplier's website or app. They will usually have a section where you can give them your meter reading. You can also ring them to submit one - but be aware that there could be many other people doing the same thing this weekend, so wait times may be longer than usual.

After Easter, the next time you will need to give a meter reading will be on, or slightly before, Monday 1 July.


Given there are very few energy deals that can compete with the Ofgem price cap, the best way to cut your bills is to lower your consumption.

Gareth Kloet, energy spokesperson for Go.Compare Energy, says: "Trying to reduce your energy consumption will help minimise costs in the short and longer term, and will ultimately pay dividends.

“There are things you can do around the home to save energy, including making sure you’re not leaving devices in standby mode, buying energy-efficient appliances, swapping baths for showers and trying not to turn the thermostat right up as soon as the temperature drops outside."

He adds: “If you are struggling to make payments and are concerned about energy bills, always talk to your energy provider in the first instance, as they have a duty to help. Do not be tempted to skip payments or just not pay – get in touch with them and they will discuss a payment plan with you.”

To help you keep energy bills low, check out our top tips on 13 ways to reduce your energy costs. If you're interested in the best ways to improve your energy efficiency and reduce costs, we explore radiators vs electric heaters, heated airers vs tumble dryers, and wood burning stove vs central heating

Henry Sandercock
Staff Writer

Henry Sandercock has spent more than eight years as a journalist covering a wide variety of beats. Having studied for an MA in journalism at the University of Kent, he started his career in the garden of England as a reporter for local TV channel KMTV. 

Henry then worked at the BBC for three years as a radio producer - mostly on BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine, but also on major BBC Radio 4 programmes like The World at One, PM and Broadcasting House. Switching to print media, he covered fresh foods for respected magazine The Grocer for two years. 

After moving to NationalWorld.com - a national news site run by the publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post - Henry began reporting on the cost of living crisis, becoming the title’s money editor in early 2023. He covered everything from the energy crisis to scams, and inflation. You will now find him writing for MoneyWeek. Away from work, Henry lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their whippet Whisper.