Whenever you switch to a new energy supplier, you will be asked to find your gas & electricity meters and submit an opening set of meter readings. Doing this makes your switch feel official, marking the handover from your old supplier to your new one. Sounds simple enough, right?
The strange thing is, we don’t always use your actual readings to open your account. To explain why, we need to take a look at the way the energy industry works, because industry rules & regulations can make things a lot more complicated than you might expect.
Your opening meter reading has to be checked & validated
When we receive your opening meter readings, we’re not allowed to just take your word for it – we have to send the figures to an independent meter validation company to be checked & verified. This is a regulatory requirement, and every energy company has to do it. It also takes time, which is why switching suppliers can take up to 21 days.
Why do your readings need to be verified? For starters, it prevents disputes between the two energy companies involved in the handover. And secondly, it double-checks that your meter readings are accurate.
So here’s how validating works…
The meter validation company’s aim is to work out what’s know as your maximum acceptable reading. If the opening meter reading you supply is more than the maximum acceptable reading, then they know that something’s not quite right!
This is how they work it out:
First, the meter validation company will look at your last verified reading (i.e. the last one you did with your old supplier before switching).
Next, they’ll calculate your expected usage for the period between your last meter reading and your switch date.
So let’s say your last meter reading was taken 20 days before you switched – they’ll take your typical daily usage and multiply it by 20. And because some days you’ll use more energy than others, they’ll multiply this number by 2.5 to give you a bit of a buffer.
Finally, they add the two figures together to create your maximum acceptable reading. It looks a bit like this:
This gives them a decent estimate of what your opening meter reading should be, with some wiggle-room. All that’s left to do now is compare this figure to the opening readings you submitted.
What happens if the numbers don’t match up?
So what happens if your opening meter reading is higher than the maximum acceptable reading? It’s simple – we’ll just use the estimated figure instead.
What if your opening reading is lower than your last reading? In that case there has obviously been a mistake, and again we’ll just use the estimated figure in its place.
This doesn’t make a huge amount of difference for you – it just shifts the handover point slightly one way or the other.
Whichever way you look at it, there will always be a clear-cut point where you switch from the old supplier to the new one, and you will never pay for the same energy twice.
Getting off on the right foot
Providing an accurate & timely set of meter readings helps the whole switching process go smoothly! If you any need help reading your meters, don’t worry – we’ve create this handy guide with plenty of illustrations and simple instructions.
Please bear in mind that the explanation above has been simplified – the real calculations involve some pretty heavy maths!
If you have any questions about giving meter readings, we’re here to help – simply send an email to email@example.com.