How to Read Your Natural Gas Meter & Gas Bill

Have you received a high gas bill recently? Can't figure out what's causing it? This post will help you understand how to read your gas bill and gas meter, which may help you take control of your gas usage.

Understanding Your Gas Bills

If your gas bill is a bit confusing, look for a section that looks similar to the one in the box below. It should contain the following information: 

  • average daily gas usage in megajoules (MJ)
  • average daily cost
  • average daily usage compared to the same time last year
  • a graph showing your usage trend

Once you know your average daily usage, you can use it as a benchmark to measure future reductions.

Next, look for the meter reading 'type' on the bill, which will be either an 'estimated' or 'actual' reading. If the technician who reads the meter doesn’t have access to the meter for any reason, they will estimate the bill based on your previous bills. Unfortunately, these estimated readings are not always appropriate. For example, I recently moved to a new property with a gas connection but when I received my first gas bill it turned out to be an estimated reading based on a bill for the previous tenant.

If you receive an estimated bill, it's a good idea to take a meter reading yourself. You can then call your provider to have the bill adjusted if it's not correct. Some gas suppliers provide an online form for this on their website.

Reading Your Gas Meter

Gas meters display usage in either metric or imperial units. Metric gas meters are the most common. Imperial gas meters are an older-style meter.

Metric Gas Meters (in cubic metres, m3)

Metric gas meters measure usage in cubic metres. Either ‘cubic metres’ or ‘m³’ will be marked next to the display window.

To take a meter reading, note down the numbers and decimal point reading from left to right.

If you want to know how many MJ's this corresponds to you will need to subtract the prior reading from the current reading and then multiply this amount by a factor. The factor varies slightly depending on where you are located. You should find the factor on your bill, if not, you can use the following as a rough guide:

Cubic metres x 38 MJ/cubic metre = MJ

Imperial Gas Meters (in cubic feet)

Imperial gas meters measure usage in 'cubic feet', which will be displayed on the meter’s clock face. This will need to be converted to cubic metres before you can compare it with your gas bill.

1 cubic metre = 35.3 cubic feet

The dials on the clock face have hands that rotate in alternating directions. To take a meter reading, write down the number towards which the hand is pointing on the first four dials from left to right. If a hand is pointing between two numbers, take the lower number except when the hand is between 0 and 9, in which case read 9. This meter reads 7205 cubic feet.

Calculating Usage from Gas Meter Readings

You can calculate usage in the same way as your provider. They take a reading every three months and base your usage on the difference between your current and previous reading. To calculate your usage over one day, take one meter reading now and the next in 24 hours. You can then check this against the average daily usage stated on your bill. Weekly and monthly usage can be calculated using a similar method.

- Holly Lovell-Smith

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