How meters are read

On average one meter reader will read about 300 sites each day. According to National Electricity Market rules we must read your meter at least once every six months, but we attempt to do so once every three months. The way we read meters depends on what type of meter it is.

How we read your meter

Electricity meters are read by one of three methods:

  • Manual reading for accumulation meters - A meter reader sights the meter and types the reading into a handheld computer that sends the data directly to our metering and billing systems. The reading is then validated and sent to your electricity retailer who calculates your final bill.
  • Probe reading  for interval meters– A meter reader attaches an optical probe to a communication port on the interval meter.  The meter downloads its 30-minute interval kWh data into the meter reader’s handheld computer. That information is automatically sent through to our metering and billing systems via a hand held device. The reading is then validated and sent to your electricity retailer who calculates your final bill.
  • Remote readings for smart meters - Smart meters can be enabled to be read remotely via communications systems, so a technician doesn't have to visit your property. The remote readings are 30 minute interval kWh data which is automatically sent through to our metering and billing systems. The readings are validated and sent to your electricity retailer.

Reading your own meter

Most homes in network area have traditional electromechanical meters, with 5 dials (like clock faces). The remainder have cyclometer or digital displays that are more straightforward to read.

How to read a dial display

Dial meters have between 4 and 6 dials that alternately move clockwise and anti-clockwise.  

Dial meter

Dial display


Steps to reading your Dial Meter

  • 1. To read the display, stand directly in front of the meter so you can clearly see the hands on all dials.
  • 2. Start with the clock that is furthest on the right and write down each number.  If the hand points in between two numbers, write down the lowest number (note – write down 9 if the hand points between 9 and 0).
  • 3. Do the same with the next dial as you move to the left (ignore any red dials)
  • The meter dials below show consumption of 46,925.
Dial meter

Reading the dials.


How to read a cyclometer display

A cyclometer display is easy to read and is similar to the odometer in your car. Simply write down the six digits displayed. This meter shows consumption of 25,030 kWh.


Odometer meter

Cyclometer display.


How to read a digital display

The newest accumulation meters have a digital display that is also easy to read.  Simply write down the digits displayed.  This meter shows consumption of 94 kWh.

Digital display

Digital Display


How to read the digital display on an interval and smart meter

Interval and smart meters displays show you the total amount of electricity you use for each tariff on the meter, such as domestic load, Off Peak Hot Water or Solar Generation. Details of the different tariff registers displayed on the electronic display of the meter can be found in Section 2.4.2 of ES3.

Ausgrid programs its interval meters to automatically cycle through the available displays every 6-8 seconds. You can press the button (if available) to more quickly move through the meters display.

Interval meters always display the date and time before cycling through to other displays. (Note that the time is always in Eastern Standard Time, as this is required by National Electricity Rules). After the date and time, the first display is always the total kWh.

1 Date display(27/8/2014) Reading your meter date display

2 Time
Reading your meter time display
3 Total kWh
Reading your meter KwH display


Other Notes

Please note that this number may not be the same as the start and finish reads on your electricity bill. To accurately determine your consumption for the quarter you will need to read your meter on the next scheduled read date, which is identified on your bill.

Most customers have one electricity meter per tariff, however depending on the connection arrangement; there may be two or more meters per tariff. To determine your electricity usage, all of the meters associated with the tariff should be read. Your electricity bill will identify which meters are associated with each tariff.

Estimated bills - what happens if we can't read a meter

About 2.5% of the time, we are unable to read a meter.

This is usually because we can’t access the meter or it's too dangerous  - for instance, meter is behind a locked gate or dogs prevent access.

If this happens we follow the rules and guidelines for estimating data set out by both the Australian Energy Market Operator and the National Electricity Retail Rules.

If we can’t read a meter, a substituted meter read is sent to your retailer and they send you an estimated bill. Retailers must ensure your bill indicates when it has been estimated.

To get this substituted meter read, we may use data from the same billing period from the year before.

Estimated meter reads are reconciled when we get access to the meter and the correct data – which is usually at the next scheduled meter read. If you used less electricity than estimated, your retailer will adjust your account. At this stage you should contact your retailer to confirm their policy regarding bill reconciliation.

Special locks can be installed so our meter readers can get access through locked gates. To find out more or order a lock please call  1300 664 582 or visit Integrity Security.

Looking after your pets

You can help us read your meters safely by taking any of the following steps with dogs and other animals that may pose a risk. Where possible:

  • keep the animal in a safe and secure place inside the house or other building.
  • keep the animal securely in a yard or area separate from your meter box.
  • keep the animal securely restrained by chain or rope at least five metres clear from your meter box and not on the access route to the meter box location.

Meter accuracy and tests

Meter faults and meter reading errors are extremely rare. All electricity meters must be accuracy tested by the manufacturer before they are installed. They must also comply with the National Electricity Rules, National Measurements Act and relevant Australian Standards.

We also carry out random accuracy checks to make sure the meters are in good working order.  This data and our processing of it is audited and approved each  year by the Australian Energy Market Operator.

However, if customers are concerned about their meter read or meter, they can ask for a meter test or a re-read of their electricity meter via their retailer. Any meter found to be inaccurate is immediately replaced and the customer reimbursed if required.

Step 1 - Talk to your electricity retailer

Before requesting a meter check or a special meter read, talk to your electricity retailer to get a good understanding of your energy use.

This involves identifying with your retailer what appliances are being used inside your home, including any new appliances, to see if that correlates with the electricity use shown on your bill. This often includes the retailer looking at how your electricity bill and use varies with the seasons and comparing it with the same period in previous years.

Make sure your retailer explains the information on your bill so you can properly compare it.

Check reads and meter tests

If after discussing your bill with your retailer, you still believe your meter read is not correct, you can ask your retailer to request Ausgrid to conduct a special meter reading or meter test.

Special readings involve a meter reader going to your home or business to perform a meter read and check that the previous reading was accurate. Our analysis shows Ausgrid’s meter reads are highly accurate, with an error rate of 0.04%.

A meter test involves a technician going t to your home to conduct a technical investigation and accuracy test of the meter to make sure it is measuring accurately. The results of the meter test will be provided to your retailer.

The fees for a special meter read or special meter test are set by the Australian Energy Regulator and only reflects the cost of providing this additional service. This fee is passed on to your retailer.

If there was a mistake reading your meter, or if there is a fault on your meter and it is replaced the fees will not be applied.

Current fees can be found in Ausgrid’s Connection Policy – Connection Charges