Electricity meter types/rates - why are there so many different ones?

I have an electricity meter that has 3 rates in use. 1 night, 2 day and E. They all ‘move’. I get asked to submit readings for 1 night, and 2 day, but never for E. So what is E doing? What is it for?

Four days ago I took these readings

  1. 32146
  2. 43004
    E: 75151

Today I took these readings

  1. 32165
  2. 43079
    E. 75244

E is the total of night + day.

Thank you so much. Why didn’t I think of that?

I have never given my electricity meter much thought; not until I got an unexpected massive bill. This incident turned me into an obsessive meter watcher.

First of all, I could find no image matching the look of my meter exactly on the www. I found an astonishing variety of meters though. Puzzling, considering they all have only one job to do.

Secondly, it took me a long time to work out if Rate 1 was night and Rate 2 was day or if it was the other way around. Eventually, someone at British Gas (supplier at the time) mentioned the ‘boil a kettle test’. Again, why didn’t I think of that?

Bulb has got a quite comprehensive section on ‘How to read your meter’. I think it could be improved further by including the ‘boil a kettle test’ and information about the function of the 3rd rate field.


Lis, I am pleased to hear you have got on top of it, like you a few years back I never bothered much with it, then I moved house and the new bill was much higher than previous so started monitoring and it does become compulsive. Having said that my bills have dropped dramatically over a 5 year period with careful monitoring and and switching to LED lighting where possible.
Next thing you need to do is start your own spreadsheet, then it gets really interesting :slight_smile:

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I love a spreadsheet. Very satisfying. Gives a sense of control in an otherwise unpredictable universe.

Thanks for the feedback on this @Lis I am going to pass this on :slight_smile:

It looks like your questions have been answered, if you have anymore don’t hesitate to ask :smiley:

James W

Made all the better by a colourful graph :heart_eyes:

James W :slight_smile:

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That is a beautiful spreadsheet. Hans Rosling would give it 10 out of 10. Maybe just add some bumblebees and butterflies.


It’s happening again. Is this poltergeist activity? The online meter reading screen has got the sun and moon icons twisted round.

I am being followed by this phenomenon. I left British Gas partly because of it. To start with Bulb was ok but now the trouble with the reversing sun and moon icons is back. What am I going to do? Will I be haunted by this forever? Trying supplier after supplier…

The icons look ok to me ( sun for day, moon for night).

My meter gives readings in following order:
Rate 1 night
Rate 4 day

I then have to enter against the relevant description and icon which has always been in reverse order (but correct entry)

However referring back to your original posts I think you mean your day and night readings that you have entered have swapped.

I can’t help with the readings being swapped, however :

Again referring back to your original post, something which I missed, you are apparently using more day units than night. This is not good, the day rate is more expensive, economy 7 meters are meant for users who have a high night time demand when there is traditionally often cheaper / surplus electricity. Traditionally these meters are fitted when electric storage heaters are in use for heating. Nowadays it can also be used for charging electric cars.

As you apparently are using more day units, once you have sorted the swapped readings it would be beneficial to have the meter replaced and go for a standard single rate tariff.

Thank you for your help. There has never been any storage heaters here. I have lived here since 1990. There is an immersion heater for water, but the timing mechanism doesn’t seem to work. But I am not touching it. It has been behaving itself for many years now - “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. So now I have to start the process of getting a new meter. Eastern Power Networks plc seems to be a starting point. But I don’t have to involve them by the looks of it. I can use Bulb service

You got to pay for the meter as well??? This is the result of privatisation I imagine.

I will contact the Housing Association first. As Landlord I imagine this is their business to sort out. I can see a loooooong summer of miscommunications, missed appointments, strange bills with weird sums in them etc etc ahead of me. On the other hand everything may go very smoothly…

It is a mystery though. Why would the online screen behave like that? At British Gas I thought maybe I had put readings in wrong fields at some point and caused the reversal of the Day and Night icons. But now I don’t know about that theory. When I started with Bulb I took great care. I am 100% certain I have not made a mistake when inputting readings. Things were going fine for the first couple of months. Sun and Moon were in their correct slots. Then whoops!

I know a lot about my meter now.

NIGHT is RATE 1 - 32514
DAY is RATE 2 - 44154

The swap from DAY to NIGHT happens at 01.42hrs with a loud clicking sound
The swap from NIGHT to DAY happens at 08.42hrs with a loud clicking sound

Hi @Lis If we install a smart meter at your property then you won’t have to pay, as we carry these exchanges out for free. We’d need to install a 5 terminal smart meter however, which we don’t unfortunately have stock of right now. This is to ensure the smart meter doesn’t interfere with the immersion heater.

You’d also then get a very nice looking usage graph, that you can switch between monthly and daily in your online account. We’re also working on ways to improve and increase the smart data available to members.

You mentioned the timing on the immersion heater potentially being broken and I’d like to look into this further with you.

I’ve also had a look at your account and will email you now about your day / night readings so we can ensure you’re being billed accurately

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There may be problems. I did have an appointment with British Gas in 2017 I think it was about a smart meter but the engineer said it was something to do with the wiring or whatever it was so they couldn’t put one in. He came and inspected, and even phoned somebody up before he delivered the sad diagnosis. He seemed devastated. Had to tell him, “look it doesn’t matter, it’s only a meter” I can live without a pretty graph". But have another go at it if you think you can do it this time.

My main worry is getting served with massive backdated bills out of the blue. I prided myself on being the ‘perfect British Gas customer’ - paying whatever they asked for via Direct Debit since 1990 in this property. The DD would be automatically adjusted up or down as needed. But this cocoon of comfort was a mirage. I was suddenly in 2019 served with a massive bill of over £1000. Nothing I did could persuade them that this was unfair because I was the epitome of the perfect customer. Anyway, I eventually paid a bit over £700 and made my escape. But now the reversing Sun and Moon icons seem like a bad omen…

@Lis If the issue was the wiring leading from outside the property to the meter it’s possible we’d need to network distributor to visit first, before we carried out the installation. However it may be that this was something that prevented the installation of a first generation smart meter, and wouldn’t impact a second generation one. I wouldn’t expect you to remember further details what the engineer said given the three eventful years that have passed!

I’m sorry to hear the issue led to such a high bill from your old supplier in the end. As you’ve only been with Bulb for a short amount of time, if we can resolve it now that will ensure nothing like this happens again. As I said I’ve emailed you so we can discuss your account securely

I am back again. To give a little update. Many things have happened since I left British Gas for Bulb in early 2020, but my problem of the Day and Night input fields twirling round in the online meter reading screen persists. I feel I am getting to be an expert though. I took British Gas to the Ombudsman, since problem started whith them, but that didn’t help. The fields still keep switching round. When you input your complaint you have to state what outcome you want to see. I put “I want to be able to submit meter readings online and be issued with correct bills.” But that outcome seems just as elusive now as it was two years ago. What can I do now? Take Bulb to Ombudsman?

I do not want a smart meter. I do not like the idea that a third party can potentially monitor my energy usage in detail at 30 minute intervals. All I want is to submit my meter readings every month online and be issued with accurate bills.

Hi @Lis, I’m sorry that you’ve had these issues with your meter readings transposing. This is extremely frustrating and we definitely do want to get this sorted for you. I’m going to send you an email this morning so I can get this looked into :incoming_envelope:

Lou :sparkles:

I did discover when researching for my British Gas Ombudsman case that it looks like the transposing happens when the statement is generated. I put in the readings in the correct Day/Night fields online, but when the PDF statement is generated the readings are swapped round and appear in the wrong parts of the statement. At about the same time (I have not actually seen it happen, but am infering from evidence) as the statement is generated the online fields swap places as well.
Then I contact Bulb with photos of my meter and of the online swapped round fields.
Bulb fixes it manually
Fields right way round again.
I submit next meter readings online. Fields staying put…
As a precaution I send photos of meter to Bulb too…
Fields staying put…
I get PDF statement…
PDF statement shows strange sums
My online readings in wrong slots in PDF
Fields swapped round in online screen…
I contact Bulb
Bulb fixes bill manually
Fields in online screen back in right order again…
Repeat above steps at monthly intervals.