What is a gas meter and how does it work?

Your gas meter is an integral part of your home’s energy connection. Your gas meter, like your electricity meter, measures the amount of energy your household consumes. This allows your energy company to generate your bills and ensures you only pay for the gas you use.
Understanding how to read your gas meter, and sending regular readings to your energy company, will help to ensure your bills are as accurate as possible. Learning a little more about gas meters and how they work can also help you to troubleshoot any issues you encounter with your energy meter and monitor your home’s energy usage.
Last update: April 2022

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What is a gas meter how does it work?

A gas meter is a device that measures the amount of gas that’s consumed by your household. Gas meters are installed between the point where the gas enters a property and the point it’s distributed. This allows the meter to accurately measure the amount of gas that’s used by the household.
The way your meter measures gas flow will depend on the age and style of the device. Most gas meters are driven by the force of the gas as it moves through the pipe and enters a property. The more gas you use, the faster the flow will be and the quicker the meter will turn.
What are gas meters?

How to read my gas meter

When you look at your gas meter, you’ll see a long number running prominently across the front. This number represents the amount of gas that’s been used in your property since the last time your meter was reset. If your energy company asks you for a meter reading, this is the number you’ll need to give them.
Most gas meters in the UK are either imperial or metric. Imperial meters measure gas in cubic feet and will usually have the words “cubic feet” or the letters ft3 shown on the front of the meter. If you have an imperial meter, you should see four numbers across the front of the meter.
Metric meters measure gas in cubic meters and will state “cubic meters” or display M3 on the front of the meter. They normally have five numbers across the front.
A lot of gas meters will display the initial four or five numbers in black followed by a digit in red. When reading your imperial or metric meter, you should include any zeros at the beginning of the display but ignore the red number and anything that comes after it.

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How to read a gas smart meter

The smart meter roll out in the UK began in 2011. The government requires energy companies to offer smart meters to business and domestic users and there are now millions of the devices in premises across the country.
Smart meters offer improved functionality over traditional meters and can also help you to reduce your energy consumption. Understanding how to read your smart meter will help you get the most from this handy device.
As your smart meter automatically sends readings to your energy company, you don’t actually need to read the meter yourself. However, it’s still a good idea to keep track of your usage for your own peace of mind.

  • If your smart meter has a keypad, you just need to press ‘9’ to get a reading
  • If your meter has a ‘display’ or ‘display select’ button, press this until your reading is displayed
  • If your meter has buttons labelled ‘A’ and ‘B’, press ‘A’ to display your number

Remember, when searching for a gas reading, you’re looking for a five or six-digit number followed by M3 or ft3.
Most smart meters come with a separate in-home display that can be viewed from your living room or wherever it’s connected. You can also find your meter reading by scrolling through the display on this device.

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What are the types of gas meter? What do they look like?

Over the years, different energy suppliers have issued different meters. As a result, there is a fairly wide variety of meters in use across the country. However, almost all gas meters have a long number displayed prominently across their middle followed by an ft3 or M3.
Some gas meters have dials in the middle instead of numbers. On each dial, you’ll see a hand pointing to a number. Read the dials from left to right taking note of each number that the hands are pointing to. If the hand is pointing between two numbers, always take the lower number. Note down the numbers on the first five dials. Ignore the sixth dial if there is one on your display.

How to move my gas meter?

If you’re redecorating or renovating your property, you may want to move your gas meter to a different location. You’ll need to get in touch with your energy supplier to ask them to arrange the relocation on your behalf as it’s illegal to move it yourself. This may take a little while to organise, so make sure you call your supplier as soon as possible.

How much does it cost to move a gas meter

Most energy companies will move your meter around 90cm for free (as long as it has a flexible hose and the meter is moving to a different position on the same wall). However, if you want to move it further than this, you’ll probably have to pay a fee.
This fee will vary depending on how far you’re moving the meter and on the infrastructure and materials that are required to complete the job. You’ll need to get in touch with your supplier to find out exactly how much you’ll pay.

Where is a gas meter normally located?

Your gas meter will be located close to the point where your gas supply enters your property. They’re often situated under the stairs, in cupboards close to the front door and in cellars. You’ll also commonly find gas meters in meter boxes outside your property. These are often located at the front of the building.

How do I know if my gas meter is faulty?

According to UK law, gas meters need to be accurate to within 2%. However, government figures show that around 24% of gas meters tested every year fall outside of these parameters.
A common problem is with gas meters telling the wrong time. This is very important for customers on time-of-use tariffs like Economy 7. If you’re on an Economy 7 tariff and your meter is telling the wrong time, you may end up paying peak prices when using energy during off-peak hours. In other cases, gas meters turn too quickly or too slowly and so don’t display accurate results.
If you notice that your energy bills are significantly higher than you expected, or if your meter readings look a little unusual, it could be a sign that your gas meter is faulty.
If you think your gas meter is faulty, you should report it to your energy company. Energy suppliers have a legal obligation to ensure that both gas and electricity meters are in full working order. This means they will have to investigate or supply you with a brand new meter.

How can I test my gas meter?

Before contacting your energy company, you may want to test your meter.

  1. The first thing you should do is turn everything off in your house and then take a look to see if your meter is still slowing ticking up. If it is, it’s probably faulty.
  2. If your meter has stopped moving, start turning appliances back on one by one. Check the meter after each appliance is switched on.
  3. If the meter starts turning at an unusual pace, it could be the plug socket or the appliance at the socket that’s not working properly


Most energy companies will ask you to take daily meter readings for around 7 days before they send someone to investigate. Taking these readings before you get in touch with your energy company should help to speed the process up.

How often should a gas meter be replaced?

Every gas meter has a period of certification. This is essentially a ‘best before’ date for the device. After this period, the meter should be replaced, even if it isn’t faulty. If it isn’t replaced, it may begin to malfunction and could cause your energy bills to become inaccurate. Different types of gas meter have different certification periods. Most are certified for between 10 and 20 years.
Your gas provider should let you know when the current period of certificate comes to an end. When it does, they should install a new meter for free, however some suppliers may charge a small fee for this service.
Gas meters

How to top up my gas meter?

If you’ve been issued with a new card for your meter, you’ll need to register it to the device before you buy your credit. To do this, simply insert your card into the gas meter until you hear a beep. Your card will now be registered to the meter and you can start buying credit.

How to check debt on gas meter?

If you’re on a prepayment gas tariff and have gone into debt, you may want to check exactly how much you owe to your energy company. To do this, you’ll need to insert your card into the meter and press and hold the red button until you see screen 27. This screen will display your total debt.
If you’ve gone into your emergency credit, you’ll see ‘EMER IN USE’ on your meter’s display. In this case, you won’t be able to see the full amount you owe until you repay your emergency credit.

How to activate emergency credit on gas meter without card

If you’ve run out of credit on your prepay gas meter but are currently unable to top up, you can use the emergency credit supplied by your energy company. Emergency credit is designed to ensure you don’t run out of energy at a bad time. It’s normally only enough to last a day or two, so you’ll need to top up soon to keep your gas connected.
If you have your gas meter card, all you’ll need to do is insert it into the meter and then accept the emergency credit offered. If you have a smart meter, you can access emergency credit without a card by using the smart card number on your top-up meter. If you don’t have a smart meter and have lost your card, contact your supplier to let them know you need to access emergency credit.

How to calculate your bill from your gas meter reading

If you want to know how much you’re spending on gas before your next bill arrives, you can calculate your usage by taking a meter reading. This will be a lot easier if you take regular readings, so try to take a reading every month.
If you have a meter reading from the time your last bill was issued, take another now and then subtract the first reading from the second. The resulting number will be the number of ft3 or m3 you’ve used since your last gas bill. If you take a look at your energy contract, or your previous bill, it should list the amount you pay for each unit of energy.
If the price is listed in M3 or ft3, simply multiply the number you have by the unit price. However, if your unit price is listed in kWh, you’ll need to do a few calculations first.
If you’re converting M3 to kWh, subtract the first meter reading from the second to get the volume of gas used. You should then multiply this by 1.02264 before multiplying it by 40. Finally, divide by 3.6 to get the number of kWh used.

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FAQ

What happens to my smart meter if I leave my supplier

If you have a first generation smart meter, it will lose some of its smart functions when you change supplier. For example, it may no longer send readings to your energy company. However, you will still be able to use it as an energy meter. If you want to continue to benefit from all of the smart functions offered by this type of meter, you’ll need to ask your new energy company to supply a meter of their own.
If you have a second generation smart meter, you may be able to change supplier without losing any smart meter functions. These types of meters are slowly being rolled out across the UK.

How to check credit on gas meter

Although some meters may work in a slightly different way, in most cases, you’ll simply need to insert your card into the meter and wait for it to beep. Your credit should then be shown on the meter display.
If you have a smart prepayment meter, you should be able to check your credit using your supplier’s app or by looking at your in-home display.

How to reset your gas meter

Once the numbers on your gas meter have counted up as far as they’ll go, they’ll reset themselves, starting from 00000 once more. You won’t need to do anything to initiate this reset. If you notice a problem with your smart meter, or if you think it hasn’t reset itself properly, contact your energy supplier and ask them to investigate.

How to turn off a gas meter

If you need to turn off the gas supply to your home, you’ll need to find your shut off valve. This is normally located close to the gas meter. Turn the handle on the valve a quarter turn left or right to turn it off. The valve is off when the handle is at right angles to the pipe.

Updated on 24 Jan, 2022

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