# Gas (and electricity) meters

#### akist

My mother in law got a shock at a huge gas and electricity bill, and I had a look at it. It seems something is odd looking at bills and patterns 2-3 years back. If they take it away and replace it with a new (probably smart) meter we will never know. Is there an easy way to test one's gas meter?

My mother in law got a shock at a huge gas and electricity bill, and I had a look at it. It seems something is odd looking at bills and patterns 2-3 years back. If they take it away and replace it with a new (probably smart) meter we will never know. Is there an easy way to test one's gas meter?
I suppose you could turn off the boiler and see how many units it takes the hob to bring a known quantity of water of known starting temperature to the boil. Then you could either perform a calculation based on some assumptions about efficiency or you could compare with the identical experiment at your own house, trying to keep the flame size the same and using the same saucepan. Obviously a very large quantity of water will give you a more reliable indication but I wouldn't bet on this being very informative.

The other thing it might be worth doing is turning off the boiler and just seeing whether the meter moves of its own accord (and calling SGN if it does).

I suppose you could turn off the boiler and see how many units it takes the hob to bring a known quantity of water of known starting temperature to the boil. Then you could either perform a calculation based on some assumptions about efficiency or you could compare with the identical experiment at your own house, trying to keep the flame size the same and using the same saucepan. Obviously a very large quantity of water will give you a more reliable indication but I wouldn't bet on this being very informative.

The other thing it might be worth doing is turning off the boiler and just seeing whether the meter moves of its own accord (and calling SGN if it does).

Are you comparing units used, not just the bills?

The hob relies too much on the efficiency of the burner to heat water.

For electric the only thing I can think of to use is a kettle, unless there's an immersion heater for water?. Look on the rating sticker , it'll say 2.4kW or 3kW or similar. They're usually a bit less than it says.
Turn big loads like washing machine off.

Kettle off, take an accurate meter reading, wait 3 minutes, take another one. It shouln't have moved much with just lights etc.
Fill the kettle, take a reading, lettehe kettle boil 3 minutes, take a reading. Leave the kettle lid open in case it boils then it won't turn off.

If it's a 3kW kettle like mine, the leccy difference when you had the kettle on should be
3kW x 3/60 = 150 Watt-hours. See how that compares with the meter reading difference.

At 28p per unit that'll be 4.2 pence worth of power.

Gas is harder.
Does she have a combi boiler or...??
Same principle, you have to get it running flat out for a timed period of a minute or two, and take two readings.
Then you have to assume you know what the usage of the boiler is, and it hasn't turned itself down in your minute or two. You'll have a result in cubic feet for an imperial meter, or cu metres for a metric one. Some of the later meters are dogs to read at all, you may need to google that.
Then it's a simple sum to convert to kW, which should match what you know about the boiler, but it won't be very accurate because meter accuracy could be out, and it'll depend how the boiler's set.
1092/cu ft in 1 minute gives you kW, or 321 x cu m in 2 mins gives you kW. Iirc.

The meter has recorded the 2nd largest, 3-monthly consumption, 2 years ago, when my mother in law was living alone in her house, in the evenings she was staying with us, rarely ever cooked, everything was mostly switched off. That makes me very suspicious.

I am comparing units recorded by the gas meter, before any calculations to turn into kWh or the price per kWh at the time. Therefore I am suspecting the meter. It is in the garage which is not heated. Maybe when it is cold outside, CH on in the house thereby a large draw, it over records. Maybe it over records regardless of the ambient temperature or maybe it over records only if you demand a large draw for a period of time. It is a mechanical device and it could fail in dozens of ways.

I was thinking the best would be to put another meter downstream, see if both meters agree? Would a plumber ever do this for me?

More generally, in terms of meters, in my own house the electricity meter has stopped recording for almost 2 years now. It is a modern-ish one, small unit, fully sealed, appears in excellent shape. It is an example (to me at least), that with 25 million households in the UK, there could be 1000s of dodgy meters. I know electricity is easier to measure, as you said place a large, known load or two or three, and see what it records over some time, but with gas I am stumped.

For leccy meter you can request an on-site independent test. You do this through you supplier. Problem is, if the meter is within tolerance, you will have to pay.

PS, I believe you can do this for gas as well, but not had any direct experience of the process?

PPS, what are the chances of having a sudden issue with both gas AND leccy meter at the same time?

Unless the meter was read for all the bills the bills are meaningless to assess the usage .

for a gas meter to be properly tested it has to be removed and sent away if it is found to be within the tolerance of plus or minus 2% then you get billed for the new meter and test etc which is hundreds of £££ .
Yes you could get someone suitably qualified (not a plumber) to put a secondary meter in to check the accuracy of your meter this would also cost you a couple of hundred quid .
As for meter being in a cold location this has negligible effect and if any would be in the customers favour .
.
As for your own electric meter not registering i hope your putting the money away as it is still possible for them to get reading`s off some of them when they down load them

Unless the meter was read for all the bills the bills are meaningless to assess the usage .
If they are estimated bills they can be way out usually over and there can be a large fluctuation when a reading is actually taken. That can go either way. These days people may have loads of estimated readings on the trot so worth checking against the actual meter reading.

A smart meter gets around that but bills are usually based on estimated yearly use. Something that confuses my wife sometimes when she checks the account as it shows credit. If usage at any point looks higher than usual they up the bill. Not had a smart meter for all that long but the account balance can always be checked. The smart meter does appear to help. Readings can still be taken manually.

More generally, in terms of meters, in my own house the electricity meter has stopped recording for almost 2 years now.

Zero on the bills as well?

Had gas and electric meters changed today. That was in my house with the broken electricity meter. Boiled the kettle while he was doing the gas meter, it popped at precisely 5 mins, meter recorded 0.185kWh. The label under the kettle says 1850-2200 watts. Assuming 2200 watts, this is spot on. I need to dismantle the kettle and measure it to make sure.

But this does not help me with the house I am currently living in, which has recorded very large electric and gas values. I will devise a way to test the electricity meter which is not digital. BG have offered to change both meters with smart meters and test them offline.

Years ago when i was a gas board employee we had a so called test light, just an injector like a small bunsen burner that you could fit to the test point of the meter let it birn for say 10 min note how much the meter dial recorded and calculate if the meter was correct or not, nothing so simple now! Meters were specified as either 5 light or 10 light, later being 100 or 200 ft per hr.

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