Watching the electricity meter

When the electicity bill comes, I usually phone up to give a meter reading. They use an estimated reading, but I like to keep it accurate in order to avoid any surprise charges at the end of the year. Last July I decided to jot down those readings myself in a spreadsheet, and take my own reading every few weeks just to keep track of how much electricity I use.

The reading is in kWh (kilowatt-hours), which is to say that if our house were to use 1kW for an hour, the meter would go up by 1 unit. In my spreadsheet I’ve noted the date in column A and the reading for that date in column B. On each row I’ve calculated our average power consumption for the period since the last reading, so cells in column C have a formula like “=(B7-B6)/(24*(A7-A6))” (kilowatt-hours used divided by hours between readings).

When I started, the average electricity usage for our household was 403W. In the last month, this has gone down to 312W (or 2,734 kWh in a year).

What’s the average power consumption of your household? I tried to find out the average UK domestic household power consumption, but got lost in a maze of statistics. At one point I wrote down that it was 3,300 kWh/year, which works out as 377W. I didn’t save the link though, so I don’t remember where that came from.






70 responses to “Watching the electricity meter”

  1. Ghada Hijjawi avatar
    Ghada Hijjawi

    I am keen to hear from those who have Horstmann electricity meters. I am a disabled person and have been doing battle with my supplier over the results of a faulty metre – even when the fault was found.

    I am convinced that Hortsmann meters have a high fault percentage (I was told inofficially that most those who found a fault were refunded an average of £200).

    Horstmann meters are not the only faulthy one but the official position is truly uneblievable (Read the end of this submission).

    What is truly alarming is the position of OFGEN: Based on the results of testing my meter, I suspect that the final Examiner’s report was tailored in favour of the supplier. Of course I was refunded some money, but this was not the main concern: the main concern was that the metre has recorded at some stage over 5000 Units that were never used in a period of 6 months. Unfortunately, I cannot dwell any further until the matter is finalized. But I intend to use my situation, and any other situation that comes to light, to present to OFGEN, and if necessary to a court of law, in order to revise the way examiners test meters and on the impossible situation of no appeal even when the examiner’s interpretation does not tally with the facts.

    Here is a proof that we, the consumers, bear the grunt of failures, while utility suppliers and meter manufacturers go on to be unjustly enriched:

    Read the pdf document of a seminar entitled “Future Arrangements for In-Service Testing – 23 June 2005” in which representatives from OFGEN and several meter manufacturers and utility suppliers took part. This is available on the internet. I quote below the exact position on faulty metres (gas or electricity):


    Question: Is 30% faulty accurate? Why not 50%? – still means half the population is accurate and need not be removed.

    A. John Stevens – Ofgem. … A balance is needed between the cost of inaccuracy to the customer against the costs to change out millions of meters.

    A. Adrian Rudd – Ofgem. The 30% figure was broadly accepted as part of the Transco Price Control as a balance. The costs of an idealistic 100% where all meters conform would, at this stage, be prohibitively expensive. Obviously there are, and will continue to be, meters installed performing outside tolerance.

    [try this link:


  2. Philip avatar

    Stumbled across this post and thought I would add our experience. We have continuous electric hot water, well kind of continuous, it only has a small tank, but I digress….

    We noticed a problem with the hot water being “less hot” or more precisely there seeming to be less available hot water before it “ran cold”. It turned out we had a leaking hot water pipe somewhere in our walls. Anyway the plumber came and found the leak and fixed the pipe.

    However our electricity bill for that quarter was phenomenal, almost double the amount of kWh used compared to same quarter previous year. Essentially the leak meant that the hot water system was running continuously and heating all that water that was leaking out of the pipe.

    The killer indicator which we could have detected in the first place was the speed at which the meter disc (ours is one of those mechanical type meters) was spinning compared to the other meters in the block of flats. Even objectvely, without reference to the other meters it was really spinning quite fast compared to how it goes now that all is fixed.

    For those of you with highly variable bills and electric hot water, get your pipes checked.

    FWIW, we use between 17 and 24 kWh per quarter (we live in Oz so only limited heating) the period with the broken pipe crossed two bills but mean that we used about 45 kWh for the quarter in which it happened. We still have no idea how long the problem actual existed but probably a couple of months.


  3. Julie avatar

    I have just asked my electric supplier to check my meter because my bills seem to be really high, and all they did was turned everything off, and only plugged in an electric fire that they brought with them!
    I still think the meter is wrong, what can I do?

  4. steve avatar

    if you have a horstman timeswitch (under a plastic dome) check what time it is set to switch on your Economy 7 rate heater circuit – there is a pointer at the bottom on the dial which is fixed and should point at the present time, or switch off your NSRs till cold, put on again and monitor when they start heating up, it shouldnt be before midnight

  5. steve avatar

    useage – well in 48 hours on a new meter – 57KW rate 1 (day) and 86.5KW rate 2 (night)

  6. fozzi avatar

    Wow. I have just had a massive bill. I noticed that when my LCD meter got to 35xxx it jumped up to 41xxx!. Now I have a history with this meter because I was told by the suppliers that they had made an error last year reading the meter and issued me a refund. However I have looked back over the bills and I see that it has got to nearly 35xxx before but then the next reading jumped down to 31xxx hence the supposed error in reading the meter. It is now obvious that the meter reader didn’t make a mistake it was the meter that is faulty. I ma having it tested and having a usage monitor installed as a backup. I am getting a real run around by the suppliers though.

  7. classical artist avatar
    classical artist

    I have to say that my electricity usage has gone mad and yet nothing has changed since I moved in in Jan 2004. I have been paying £115 a month to Southern Electric per month by direct debit and still ended up with a bill of £1200 on top of what I have paid. I have a 2 bed single story thatch cottage, just 2 of us living here, and we are out during the day at work… I think my meter MUST be wrong but would like to get it independently tested- Any ideas would be gratefully received… Yes we only have electricity for water, heat and lighting, BUT I really can’t understand how my readings can be that high.

  8. w. newton avatar
    w. newton

    what the electricians did is sufficient. if the heater they used is 2kw. and they switch it on for 1 hour your meter will read 2kw for that period,proving your meter is ok.

  9. Jimmy H. avatar
    Jimmy H.

    Many people don’t realize that they actually consume the energy the meter says they do. That’s the #1 fact, and they can’t get over it. “Oh I didn’t change anything…” “my bill has never been this high” Blah, blah, I’ve heard it all.

    If a meter is faulty, 99% of the time it’s in the consumers favor. The meter will tend to slow down over time and you guessed it=it actually meters a little less consumption. But, the consumer gets a high bill and demands that the meter is at fault. So, the electric company has to come out and test it. And if it’s just a tad out of accuracy (the state commission here in Ohio sets the accuracy limit from 98-102%), the company will change out the meter.

    Now, let’s say the meter was tested at 102.4% accuracy, well…in this rare case the meter was running fast. However, it’s not going to make that much of a difference on your bill. 2.4%? Cmon.

    **This is what happens 99.9% of the time—-> Let’s say it tested at 97.5% The company changes it out because the consumer whined that it wasn’t right. Well guess what?? Now your new and improved meter that just got installed is gonna be 100% accurate. Which means…your usage is really accurately recorded now, and your bill just went up because you are a crybaby.

    Thank you and good day.

  10. Rod Watts avatar

    Just a Thought, If you think the suppliers Meter is reading Incorrectly, Why not get your Electrician to Install Another Meter Owned by you, (In Addition to the Suppliers meter) Even a second hand one, with mechanical time clock for the Rate Switching, if this was set to the same time, as the Suppliers is. Both meters should read the same, you could then try a 2 kilowatt heater for One hour (as mentioned in previous post) and both meters should show 2 units used . Might give you insight into whats happening. Rod Watts