How do I read my electricity meter?

An electricity meter is like a speedometer on your car. Your meter measures the amount of electricity that you use. The readings taken from your meter are used to calculate the bills you receive from your energy supplier.


Who reads your electricity meter?


NIE Networks (NIE) are responsible for installing and maintaining your electricity meter. NIE Networks will try to read your meter four times per year. These meter readings are passed on to your supplier, who will calculate how much electricity you have used and issue a bill.


What if NIE can’t read my meter?


When NIE Networks visit your property sometimes they may not be able to gain access to take a meter reading. This could happen if the gates are locked, something is blocking the meter or if the meter is inside and you are not at home to let them in. When the meter reader cannot get access to the meter they will leave a card in the mailbox to let you know that they were there and to tell you how you can submit your own read. If you do not submit a meter reading, then an estimated read will be used.



It will be clearly marked on your bill whether the read used was an actual read, an estimated read or a read supplied by the customer. The markings used are as follows:


A – means an actual meter read by NIE Networks


C – means a read submitted by you, the customer


E – means your bill has been calculated using an estimated meter reading


Estimated bills – what should I do?


It’s not unusual for NIE Networks not to be able to read your meter, for some reason or another. Your bill may, therefore, be based on an estimate. However, if there are a number of estimated bills in a row, the estimated readings might not reflect the real (actual) usage. This can result in a large bill for customers when an actual read is eventually obtained. So it is very important to check your bills to make sure you are not always getting estimated bills.


If you receive a bill which has been estimated, you should check your meter to see if there is a significant difference between the estimate and what is shown by the meter.  If there is a difference you can submit your own meter reading  (for how to do this, please see below). By submitting your own reading, you can be sure you are being billed accurately and that there are no surprise “catch-up” bills.

For cases such as these, it’s important to be familiar with your meter and how to submit readings to your supplier or NIE Networks.



What type of meter do I have?


In Northern Ireland, there are several different types of meter and taking a reading will depend if you are on a 24Hr tariff (which will have a single rate / reading) or Economy 7 tariff (which will have two readings).


Single Rate Meters (24Hr Tariff) 


Digit Meters 

For example reading is 28792:

Read from left to right

Ignore any numbers marked 1/10 or 1/100 or in red


Keypad Meter

Press 9 on meter or freedom unit to display reading


Clock Type Meters 

For example reading is 38792:

Read dials from left to right

Ignore any numbers marked 1/10 or 1/100 or in red

If the pointer is between two numbers – give the lower number


Dual Rate (Economy 7) Meters 


Economy 7 (Day/Night) Meters have two rows of numbers to separately record the electricity you use during both day and night. These rows may be labelled as Day and Night, 1/I (Night) and 2/II (Day) or Low (Night) and Normal (Day).


Digit Meters 

Push button to scroll through the display:

Rate 1 or R1 for first read

Rate 2 or R2 for second read


Keypad Meter

Push 3 on meter or freedom unit for first read

Push 3 again for second (or additional) reads


How to Submit An Electricity Meter Read

You can submit a meter reading to NIE Networks or to your supplier.


If you wish to submit your reading to NIE Networks all you need is your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) and your meter reading. You can do this online via the NI Networks website.



If you wish to submit your reading to your supplier all you need is your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) and your meter reading. Suppliers have a number of ways to submit a reading including, for example online, by phone or app.

Your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) is the unique 11 digit number assigned to your electricity connection and meter.  It starts with the digits 81 and is always shown on the bill from your electricity supplier.


Time to Switch 


If you haven’t switched energy suppliers within the last 12 months, then it’s likely you will save money by moving to a new deal. To get the most accurate comparison it’s always best to use how much energy (kWh). 


Now that you know how to read your meter, you can use your electricity consumption to compare offers from electricity suppliers across Ireland to find out how much you could save by switching.


More Posts

Stay in the know...

Keep up to date with all the latest energy news, deals and advice from Power to Switch