Energy meter reading day: when to give yours to avoid getting overcharged

Reading an old style mechanical meter

The energy price cap is going up by 5% on Monday 1 January. Households should take a meter reading before then to avoid being overcharged. Here’s when to give a reading depending on your energy supplier. 

If you’re on a standard tariff – which most are right now – bills will rise from 1 January. That’s because Ofgem’s new energy price cap comes in, set at £1,928/year for a typical household. If you’re on a fix, nothing changes as your rates are locked in.

At Look After My Bills, we encourage households that aren’t on smart meters to regularly take a meter reading to ensure you avoid being overcharged. But it’s even more important when there’s a price change.

To prevent everybody from submitting a reading on the same day – which has brought down systems before – most energy firms will allow customers to submit backdated readings for a period afterwards. Jump to firm-by-firm info below.

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Why do I need to take a meter reading?

Most of us are on variable energy tariffs at the moment, which are subject to the energy price cap. This changes every three months, with the next change on 1 January.

What’s expected to happen to energy prices over the next year? See will energy bills fall?

By submitting a meter reading, you remove the chances of your supplier hitting you with an estimated bill. Instead, they’ll know precisely how much energy you have used under the old energy price cap, and also how much you use under the new lower energy price cap.

A more accurate bill means you shouldn’t be overcharged and they can adjust your direct debit accordingly. If you don’t submit your reading, the supplier will be effectively guessing how much energy you’ve used and charging you based on that.

Unsure how to take a meter reading? Check out meter readings – everything you need to know.

Who doesn't need to submit a meter reading?

If you have a smart meter that is functioning correctly, you don’t need to submit a meter reading as your readings are automatically sent to your energy provider. If it’s operating in ‘dumb’ mode, however, it won’t be sending readings automatically, so you should submit a reading.

Those on a prepayment meter also don’t need to submit meter readings. 

If you’re on a fixed tariff, your deal will not be subject to the energy price cap, so there won’t be a change in your bill from 1 January. However, it’s still important to submit regular meter readings, so that you get charged accurately by your energy supplier.

How do I submit a meter reading, and how long do I have to backdate it?

Companies have previously struggled with the volume of customers on their websites near meter reading day, so now there are various ways to submit a reading.

Some energy providers let you backdate the meter reading up to 30 days later, so you can take the reading on 31 December – take a photo on your phone for your records – but submit it a few days later when traffic should have died down. 

Here’s how and when to submit your reading, depending on your supplier:

Energy supplier How to give a meter reading Can I send a backdated meter reading?
British Gas Via its app, or using the British Gas online form (no online account required). Yes, until Sunday 14 January.
E.ON Next Via its app, online at eonnext.com, or by email or phone. E.on said: “We do accept backdated readings, but it’s important that customers get them to us as soon as they can.”
EDF Energy Using your EDF online account. Yes, until Monday 8 January
Octopus Energy Via your Octopus online account, send a photo to its app, or email. TBC, but usually you can for 7 days.
OVO Energy Via its app, using your OVO online account, WhatsApp, online chat or phone. Yes, for up to 10 days.
ScottishPower Via its app, using your ScottishPower online account or phone. Yes, until Friday 5 January
Shell Energy Via its app, using your Shell Energy online account or phone. You can give your reading up to 30 days after 1 January and have it backdated.
So Energy Using the So Energy online account, replying to reminder texts, using automated webchat, phone or email. So Energy recommend sending a meter reading a few days before the price cap change.
Utility Warehouse Via the UW app, or using your online account. Customers who may need further assistance can call and speak to a UW advisor. You can give a backdated reading for up to 7 days from 1 January.

Ways to save on your energy bills

Submitting meter readings is one way to make sure you’re not overpaying on your energy bills. So is checking out our energy comparison guide for the latest fixed deals and need-to-knows. Another way is to check out our comprehensive list of energy saving tips to cut down on usage and save money around the home.

Here are some more useful energy guides:

Finally, if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, here’s how to get help with energy costs.