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Reading your energy meter during coronavirus

You might need to get your meter read if you're switching or leaving an energy contract.

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With the existing social distancing and isolation measures in action, you might be wondering what happens if you need to get your energy meter read.

We've looked at current action from energy distributors as well as some of the responses seen with UK energy providers to give you an idea of what is to come in Australia.

Why do you need to get your energy meter read?

The following are some of the common reasons you may need to get your meter read:

  • To check your usage is being charged correctly
  • You're switching providers
  • You're exiting a contract

What will happen with meter readings?

Self-reads by customers

This will likely depend on your particular situation, but some distributors like Essential Energy are encouraging self-reads for customers moving out, with the following guidelines:

  • Any self-read will ideally take the form of a photo sent to your retailer, who will forward it to the distributor.
  • No same-day connection will take place until further notice.
  • Failure to follow these requirements may result in a delay of energy transfer or no power.

General precautions

Other distributors or retailers may still take readings at your home but will follow extra safety precautions to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Check with your retailer to see what guidelines you should follow, especially if you are moving, connecting or disconnecting your supply.

How can I read my meter safely?

If you do end up needing to take a meter reading yourself, it's imperative that you do it safely. Remember that you might not be able to access your own meter in some situations, such as if you live in an apartment.

Before trying to take a reading, you should always check your meter or meter housing for signs of deterioration, including damage done by water or animals, exposed wires, or burnt or melted parts. How you take a reading will depend on what kind of meter you have, but always take a picture, too.

Electricity

  • Clock face meter. Note the number on each clock face from left to right. If a dial is between two numbers, take the lower of the pair. Ignore the additional dial labelled 1/10. Usage is your meter reading minus the reading at your last bill.
  • Electronic meter. Press the "display" button. It may scroll through several readings – take note of each one.
  • Smart meter. These record usage in 15- or 30-minute intervals but are unable to be read manually. To check your usage, you'll have to log onto your retailer energy account and request a usage chart.

Gas

  • Metric gas meters. Your gas usage will be measured in cubic metres (m3). Simply read the black and white digits from left to right, ignoring the red digits used for testing.
  • Imperial gas meters. These measure usage in cubic feet. Note down the numbers on each clock face from left to right, choosing the lower number when the dial is in between two values (or 9 between 0 and 9). Ignore the dials labelled ½ and 2.

How else will my energy supply be affected by coronavirus?

While there hasn't been a unified response from Australian energy retailers, based on the response in other countries, you can assume that your energy supply itself won't be impacted.

What has been affected for many providers is their ability to take calls from customers as call centres are closed down. Instead, they are directing customers to use online services or energy apps to lodge inquiries.

Picture: GettyImages

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