Understanding your Gas Meter
It's a good idea to know how to read your electricity meter as this allows you to remain aware of how much energy your household is using.
This way it's easy to determine how much energy you have used in a billing period, which can give you a better idea of how much it costs.
Simply record the number on your meter at the start of your billing period, then subtract that from the number you see at the end of the billing period in order to find out how much energy (in kilowatt hours) you have used.
Unless you have a smart meter, a meter reader will need to visit your home to physically read the meter.
If the meter reader is unable to access the meter, you may receive an estimated bill based off of your previous usage.
There are two types of meters in Australia: Metric and Imperial. While we're phasing imperial meters out, some people will still have them in their homes.
If you keep track of your gas usage, you can check it against your bill to make sure everything is correct.
Accidents happen, so learning how to read your gas meter can save you from being charged too much from the utility company.
Reading your meter
A lot of people rely on their utility provider to give them an accurate reading on both their electricity and gas bills.
Some never even learn how to read their gas meter, and take their bill as the only way to tell how much energy they've used over the billing period.
Reading a gas meter isn't too difficult once you understand what you're doing.
First, you have to look and see whether your gas meter is metric or imperial.
Imperial gas meter
Take a look at your gas bill.
The gas charges section might look a little bit like this:
Australia is phasing-out the use of imperial gas meters.
They're relatively hard to find these days, but some properties still use them.
Still, if you have an imperial gas meter in your home, you should know what the dials mean.
Imperial gas meters are a bit harder to understand than metric gas meters.
They usually don't provide concrete numbers, and instead, rely on four dials to give you your reading.
Some imperial meters provide digits, which are easy to understand.
All you have to do is write them down and convert the cubic feet digits into cubic metres.
If your imperial gas meter uses dials, the process is a bit more complicated.
Your imperial gas meter turns when gas moves through the pipes in your home.
This is how the utility company determines how much gas you've used at a particular time.
You read an imperial meter from left to right.
Don't worry about the two dials at the top or bottom of your meter, as these don't have anything to do with understanding your gas bill.
Each dial turns the opposite way from the one next to it.
If the first dial rotates clockwise, the second dial will turn counter-clockwise and so on.
Each time the dial on the left makes a full rotation, the dial to the right will move to the next digit.
If the needle is between two numbers, always read the lower of the two unless it sits between 0 and 9.
If the needle is between these two, always read the 9.
These meters measure your gas usage in cubic feet.
For billing purposes, you must convert these cubic feet into cubic metres.
One cubic metre is equal to just over 35 cubic feet (35.3147 to be exact).
A metric meter is much more common than an imperial meter in Australia.
Newer homes will be equipped with them, and most people who use natural gas as a source of power will probably be reading a metric gas meter.
A metric meter displays the units in 'cubic metres.'
You'll be able to tell it's a metric meter over a digital imperial meter by the m3 symbol on the meter.
Like the imperial meter, you read a metric meter from left to right, including any zeroes that appear in the beginning of the reading.
Understanding your gas bill
Your gas bill will show you your power usage in megajoules.
Converting your power usage into megajoules requires observing a specific figure on your bill.
This figure changes depending on where you live so that no blanket conversion rate will apply to everyone.
Regardless of the conversion, you'll be able to see how much energy you've used over the billing period on your statement.
Sometimes, though, this will only be an estimate rather than the real thing.
If the technician can't safely reach your meter, they'll send you an estimated bill.
If the path is obstructed or if there's a dog in the way, the technician will move on and send you an estimate.
The problem with estimates is that they aren't always correct.
You might end up paying more than you expected on your next bill because the estimate was too low.
Reading the meter yourself is one of the ways to make sure the utility company doesn't overcharge you on your bill.
To get your accurate daily and monthly usage, record the number on the meter at the beginning of the day, week, or month, then again at the end of your test period.
If your bill has any discrepancy, call the utility provider and request that they check your meter again.
Save money by learning to read your meter
Reading your gas meter isn't as difficult as it seems, and it's essential if you want to avoid paying too much for gas.
Accidents happen, and your gas provider might misread your meter and charge you too much on your bill.
If you keep track of your gas usage, you can dispute the number and get the company to reverse the charge.
Another way you can save on your gas bill is by comparing plans to see if there's a better deal available for you.
Try our free comparison service here and see if you're eligible for significant savings.
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This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.