How to read your gas and electricity meters
Robyn Hamilton
Staff Writer

Understanding all the elements of your energy bills can be a confusing endeavour - especially if you’re a new bill payer. Never fear, in this article we’ll talk you through how to tell your GPRN from your MPRN and how to take accurate meter readings, among other important need-to-know bits and pieces.

There are quite a few elements on your energy bill that you’ll need to get your head around in order to know how to improve your energy efficiency and to ensure that you aren’t overpaying because of inaccurate estimates. So let’s kick things off by defining a few terms.

What is a kWh?

Let’s start with one of the more basic, but no less essential terms you’ll need to understand your energy bills. A kilowatt hour (or kWh) is the unit of measurement used by gas and electricity suppliers. One kilowatt hour is equivalent to 1000 watts of energy used for 1 hour. For example, a 100-watt lightbulb switched on for 10 hours will use 1 kWh of electricity.

The average Irish household uses about 11.5 kWh of electricity and 30 kWh of gas per day. One kWh will get you about 10 minutes in an electric shower or one cycle of your washing machine or dishwasher.

What does the 'E' on my bill mean?

Moving onto items you’ll find on all of your energy bills, you might have noticed an ‘E’ marked beside your kilowatt hour usage. But exactly does that ‘E’ mean? Well, it stands for ‘estimate’. It means that your energy supplier doesn’t know the exact amount of energy your household has consumed since your last bill.

The number is based on the average usage rate for a house similar to yours. Your consumption estimate determines your overall energy billing rate and it could be higher or lower than your actual consumption.

ESB Networks is responsible for reading your gas and electricity meter and aims to do so four times a year but as scheduling these visits can sometimes be problematic, estimation becomes necessary.

Estimates are just that, estimates - meaning that your actual consumption figure could be lower or higher than that quoted. If you feel like you’re overpaying for what you’re actually using, you can just submit your own reading to your supplier, either over the phone or online and they will then adjust your bill. Be sure to get in touch within two weeks of receiving your bill in order to get it amended.

How do I take a meter reading?

So, you’ve got an estimate on your bill that you don’t like the look of and you want to submit your own meter reading, how do you go about it?

How to take an electricity meter reading:

Most Irish electricity meters in Ireland are currently mechanical, although we will see this start to change in the coming years as smart meters are introduced. Mechanical meters display your consumption in kWhs. If there are two readings, one marked 'Day' and the other 'Night', then you have a special type of meter known as a NightSaver meter.

When reading your meter, you only need to take a note of the numbers in black and ignore the number in red. If you have a NightSaver meter, you will need to take note of both readings. Up to date meter readings are also necessary to switch you from one electricity supplier to another.

How to take a gas meter reading:

As with electricity meters, simply ready the black numbers and ignore those in red to take your reading and you’re good to go!

But what about the rest of those mysterious numbers on your bill? Both your electricity and gas bill come with their own unique point reference number. What is that you ask? Read on...

What is a MPRN?

A Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) is a unique 11-digit number which indicates the exact location of a property’s connection to Ireland’s electricity network, you can usually find it listed on the top right hand corner of your bill electricity. Every connection and meter has its own MPRN, which is managed by ESB Networks.

What is a GPRN?

A GPRN is the gas equivalent of an MPRN, only the ‘G’ here stands for ‘gas’ and it is a 7-digit number as opposed to 11 digits.

A Gas Point Reference Number is assigned to every gas point on Ireland’s natural gas network. The number is located on all gas bills in Ireland and must be quoted when changing gas supplier.

A gas point is the place at which gas is withdrawn from a national gas network, measured by a meter and supplied to an end user.

Now that you’re up to speed, is it time to switch?

If you haven’t switched energy suppliers within the last 12 months, there’s a fair chance that you are paying more than you need to on energy. By switching both your gas and electricity suppliers, you could save an average of €380!

You can compare and switch suppliers using now. All you’ll need is your aforementioned MPRN, GPRN and a recent meter reading to do so. The whole process only takes a few minutes. Check out our comparison calculator for yourself and see!