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Gas & Electricity

Why Covid means it's important to submit a regular meter reading

Why Covid means it's important to submit a regular meter reading
Daragh Cassidy

Daragh Cassidy

Head Writer

A recent survey from the CRU reveals that a huge number of households in Ireland aren’t submitting regular readings.

You should only pay for what you use, right?

But when it comes to energy, that may not always be the case. 

Unless you’re providing a regular meter reading to your energy supplier, some of your gas and electricity bills will be based on an estimate of your usage, which may or may not be highly accurate. This means you could end up overpaying for energy you haven't used. Or equally as bad, end up underpaying and then be hit with a big arrears bill in a few months’ time when your supplier eventually finds out. 

At bonkers.ie we've heard many a horror story from people getting a back bill for hundreds of euro as their meter hadn't been read for so long.

Despite this, a recent report from the CRU shows that a whopping 52% of electricity customers and 46% of gas customers haven’t submitted a meter reading of their own over the past 12 months.

Customers of Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy are particularly bad at supplying readings it seems, with closer to 60% of these customers not doing so!

Incidence of submitting own meter reading in the past 12 months*

Electricity 

Gas 

Bord Gáis Energy 

43%

40%

Electric Ireland 

42%

54%

Energia 

74%

78%

SSE Airtricity 

68%

82%

*Source: CRU Residential Electricity & Gas Market Survey Results 2020

Why it’s so important

Providing a regular meter reading means your bill will be based on accurate usage. 

This is important at the best of times but particularly during Covid when lockdown restrictions mean it’s more difficult for ESB Networks and Gas Networks Ireland to come take their own readings, which they usually try do four times a year.

However, the lockdown restrictions also mean more of us are spending more time indoors, which means the estimates being used by your supplier may not be as accurate as they would usually be.

These estimates have traditionally been based on a profile of household consumption behaviour built up by the energy suppliers over many years, however Covid has completely skewed our regular usage patterns!

How do I know if my bill has been estimated?

If your bill has been based on estimated usage, you'll see the letter E written somewhere on the bill - usually beside the number of units you've used or the billing amount. If it's based on a meter reading, you'll see the letter A instead.  

What to do?

A few days before every bill is due, you should ideally submit an up-to-date reading to your supplier. 

Some suppliers will send you a handy reminder text (though you may need to opt in for this) and you should be able to submit the reading online or through your supplier's app if they have one.

If you're unsure how to take a reading, check out this handy guide we did on how to read a meter

An end to estimated electricity bills 

Smart electricity meters are currently being rolled out to every home, farm and business in Ireland with smart electricity tariffs now available from some of the country's main suppliers. And the aim is to have a smart meter installed in every premise in the country by 2024.

As smart meters can communicate in real time with your supplier, they will also reduce the need for estimated electricity bills, meaning ESB Networks won't have to come visit your home to take a meter reading four times a year and you won't have to submit a reading yourself.

Instead each bill you get will be based on accurate, up-to-date energy usage - meaning you'll only ever pay for what you've used going forward. Nice!

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