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Understanding your meter

Meter identifiers

Each electricity meter has a unique serial number located on its front. You should quote your meter number when you contact your retailer, especially if you are moving, transferring, or if your address is difficult to locate.

As your meter number changes when a meter is replaced, there is a second identifier called a National Metering Identifier (NMI). This is used by your electricity company to distinguish which meter is yours. You can find your NMI on your electricity bill.

The NMI is attached to your address and not your meter.


Where is your meter

Your electricity or gas meter should be located on the front or back of your property, or on some older properties it could even be inside the house. If you live in an apartment, unit or townhouse complex, it is likely that all of the meters are located in one central location.

In some older unit blocks there might only be one meter for the property and the body corporate or landlord will determine how the usage is charged to residents.


Access to your meter

You must provide safe and clear access to your meter for maintenance, meter readings and connecting or disconnecting supply. If you live within a secure complex, your distributor will have access arrangements with the complex manager.

Your electricity bill will contain advice about the approximate date of the next scheduled meter reading so you can provide clear and safe access for the meter readers. If you cannot provide access to your meter (due to a locked gate, unsecured dog or other obstruction) your retailer has the right to estimate your bill.

If access to your electricity meter continues to be denied, your retailer has the right to disconnect your supply. To avoid this, contact your retailer to find out what other arrangements can be made. Options include self-reads, moving the meter to the fence line, or organising a special meter reading.

Your meter will be read by your distributor (the companies that own the poles, wires and meters), or their representative, and the information will be given to your retailer for billing.

Generally your meter will be read every three months. Distributors do have the right to estimate your usage instead of taking an actual meter reading, but they must read your meter at least once every 12 months.


Are you being billed for your meter

You should always check that the meter number on your bill matches the meter number on your property. There is always a chance that information can become mixed up and you may be billed for an incorrect meter. If the numbers do not match, or any are missing, you should contact your retailer and provide the correct meter number.

In instances where your meter sits with a number of other meters, you may want to check which meter is yours. Turn off the main switch to your property for a few minutes and see if the meter you believe to be yours stops recording usage. If the meter does not stop, it could mean:

  • It is not your meter. Check to see if one of the other meters has stopped - that may be your meter.
  • There may be something else connected to your meter that you are not aware of (a shed, or something from a neighbouring property or common areas).
  • The meter may be faulty. You can contact your retailer and arrange a meter test. Be aware that the test is at your cost unless the meter is found to be faulty. It is rare for meters to be faulty, so a meter test should be the last resort.

Also, take note of any lights or other electrical appliances around your property that stop working when you turn off your main switch, such as neighbouring properties or community lighting, as this may mean that your meter is supplying their power and you may be charged for these also.


How to read your meter

Dial meters: stand directly in front of the meter so you can see the exact position of the pointer on each of the five dials. Record the numbers from each dial (from left to right). If a pointer is sitting between two numbers on a dial, record the lowest number.

Odometer meters: record the numbers from left to right (but ignore the red numbers on gas meters).

Digital meters: these show the total usage for the billing period.


Calculating your usage

You can measure your electricity usage by calculating the difference between your ‘start read’ and the ‘end read’. For example, if you move into a property and the meter shows 18525 (the start read) and at the end of the billing period it shows 24976 (the end read), your electricity usage would be 6451 kilowatt hours (24976 – 18525 = 6451).


Industry changes

Under the Power of Choice reforms, which came into effect on 1 December 2017, all new and replacement electricity meters must be digital meters. Find out more about the transition to digital meters in Queensland

There was also a rule change from 1 December 2017 that shifted responsibility for meter installation from the distributor (the companies that own the poles, wires and meters) to the retailer (the companies who sends your electricity bill), meaning three stakeholders are now involved in the installation of new meters – the metering provider, the metering coordinator and the meter data provider (meter reader). This change initially caused some delays in meter installations, however, from 1 February 2019, retailers are now required to provide a customer with a new digital electricity meter within a defined timeframe to reduce installation delays. For example, brand new connections must have the meter installed within six business days of a new property being connected to the network. Take a look at the AEMC website to find out the new timeframes for upgrading, replacing or repairing meters.

Also from 1 February 2019, consumers have the option to provide their own reading of an electricity or gas meter to their retailer if they have received inaccurate estimated bills. Contact your retailer for more information about the options they provide for self-meter reads, or read more about these changes to estimated meter reads to reduce bill shock.

Find out more about the metering changes, explained by the Australian Energy Regulator, the Australian Energy Market Commission and the Australian Energy Market Operator.