Student Gas Bills – How to take a gas meter reading

Student Gas Bills

Many students who move from student halls into private accommodation, will for the first time, need to take a gas meter reading. Student gas bills can be expensive, especially as most students already have a tight financial budget. To help you avoid any excessive gas bills, in this part of our guide to student bills series, we’ll show you how to take a gas meter reading and how to calculate the cost of your gas usage.

What we’ll be covering:

Why do I need to Submit Meter Readings?

For the most part, gone are the good old days when energy companies would send their agents round, knocking on your door to read your meter. Now, most people let their energy suppliers estimate their usage. These estimates are based on past readings, temperatures, how well insulated your house is and a number of other factors.

But, as you may expect, these estimates’ may not always be so accurate. The smartest thing to do, especially if you’re struggling to stretch your student finance loans far enough to even afford a Maccy’ D’s, is to read your meters yourself and send your supplier your actual usage info. This way, you can be sure you are getting charged accurately for any student utility bills.

Sounds simple, but given the fact you’ve now entered the assault that is adulthood and responsibility, I’m sure you’re aware that there will be a few finer points to cover.

First step: locate your meter.

— Also Learn how to take an electric meter reading 

Where is My Gas Meter?

Most likely, your meter is on the outside of the property near to one of the doors. This makes them accessible for meter reading agents in order that they can easily read them. In more modern houses, the meter is typically found in a cosy little cupboard outside by the front entrance.

The second most common place, it on the inside porch or in a hallway, right near the front door.

Check these two places first as they’re the most common gas meter locations.

Still can’t find it? Got a basement? Check there. Garage? Check there. Cupboard under the stairs? Tell Harry Potter to shift over and have a quick check in there.

Odd Locations

It could be in more odd places though. If your student accommodation was once refurbished or any spare rooms rearranged, a former garage or porch could now be used as bedroom or kitchen. If those changes occurred, at some point in the past, the meter could well be in a random room in the house so look around.

Ran around every room, looked in cupboards and still can’t find it? Check your tenancy agreement. It may state the location in the handbook.

Failing all that, call your student landlord or agent, they should be able to tell you the meters location.

Types of Gas Meters

In student accommodation, and homes in general, there are a variety of gas meter types. To help identify which type of meter has been installed in your student home, here we’ll provide a brief description on each of the gas meter types and explain how you can take a meter reading.

Digital Metric Meter (five numbers to the left of a decimal point or space)

A digital metric meter will have a digital display that shows five numbers and then a decimal point, followed by some more numbers, which may or may not be in red. This is the most modern type of meter.

To read it:

  • From left to right, write down the first five numbers
  • Include any and all zeros
  • Ignore the numbers that come after the decimal point

Imperial Meter (four numbers to the left of any red numbers)

An imperial meter looks slightly older; it isn’t a screen but rather displays, separate black and white square numbers. The latter numbers will be in red and it may have some imperial unit of measurement on it – probably cubed feet.

To read it:

  • From left to right, write down the first four numbers
  • Include any and all zeros
  • Ignore the rest of the numbers in red

Dial Meter

A dial meter will have four or possibly more dials. Each dial will have a pointer indicating towards a number between one and nine. These are the most complex to read, but also, luckily, the least common.

To read it:

  • Read the first four dials from left to right, usually along the bottom row only
  • Ignore dials in red or in a different size to the rest
  • Write down the closest number to each pointer
  • If the pointer rests between two numbers, go with the lower number
  • If the pointer rests between zero and nine, write down nine

Note: Sometimes some of the dials run clockwise and some run counter-clockwise, don’t get cocky (or clocky) and just look at where the pointer points, like when you’re telling the time: just look at the number it’s pointing to.

TOP-TIP If you’re going through all the effort of reading the meter yourself, be sure sure you get it right, you don’t want to end up being charged extra on your student gas bills.

Smart Gas Meter

A swanky digital meter with cool graphics and a large display. Since it reads itself and sends the usage to your supplier, you don’t really need to read it. You can look at it if you’re convinced it’s sending the wrong readings, or if you’re just really really bored.

To read it:

  • There are many unique types but they’re all very simple to navigate and display the necessary figures clearly

There are a few bonuses to having a smart gas meter. You can literally see in real time the gas your property is consuming. This is pretty handy if you’re leaving the house for awhile and want to make sure the boiler and all your appliances are switched off; you can just check to see if the figures have stopped going up. You can also see if an appliance is consuming a disproportionate amount of gas – maybe something is wrong with it.

They are also very eco-friendly and allow you to keep a clear, real-time account of your gas usage. Very useful when it comes to keeping track of your student house bills.

How Do I Calculate My Student Gas Bills?

Your gas usage is typically measured in imperial cubic feet (ft3;) or metric cubic meters (m3;) depending on the type of meter.

The metric meters display part units as decimals, and the imperial meters display part units in red and or after a space. You can just ignore the part units.

Despite being measured in cubit feet; or metric cubic meters;, you’ll likely find you’re billed in kilowatt hours (kWh).

This means that if you want to see if you’re being billed correctly, you have to convert your readings into kWh.

Doing this requires taken a fair amount of  calculations. There are online Gas Bill Converters that will do this for you. So if your feeling lazy skip ahead and will outline how to use the online gas conversions.

If your a bit of a nerd though or just an aspiring scientist, who’s keen to perform your own calculations, here’s a quick run-through.

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Step One:

Firstly you’ll need to subtract your last meter reading from your current one to figure out how much gas you’ve used in that billing period. You’ll need your current and previous gas bills in front of you and a calculator for accuracy.

Step Two – only if you have an imperial meter:

If your meter is in imperial, you need to convert to metric. This is the conversion factor: 100 ft3; = 2.83 m3; . Your meter measures in hundred-units of cubic feet. If the meter says you’ve used 1 unit, you’ve actually used 100 ft3;. So just multiply your imperial meter reading by 2.83.

Step Three:

Multiply the figure by the calorific value of the gas. This give an indication about the quality of the gas used. The exact value will be on your bill. It should be between 38 and 41 megajoules per cubic meter.

Step Four:

Multiply that figure by 1.02264. This accounts for temperature and pressure and something about expansion of the gas due to heat, but best not to stress on the details and instead just do it!

Step Five:

Convert to kilowatt hours. To do this, divide your figure by 3.6.

Final Step:

Now you have successfully converted to kWh and taken everything you need to into account, you just need to work out what the final cost of the bill should be.

To do this multiply by the price per unit your energy supplier charges you, which will be on the bill. Once all complete, you will now have the total cost of the bill in kWh based on your own meter readings.

Gas Bill Calculators

As we mentioned before, with a quick google you can find many reliable, free Gas Bill Converters that will save you the work. In order to use these, you just need to type in your meter readings and the price per unit of gas that you pay.

The calorific value’ and conversion factor’ don’t vary that much so you can go with what ever is suggested. If you want to be more accurate, find these figures on your bill and type those in.

Once you’ve have the final figure, you can check and see if this matches up with what your energy company is charging you. If you’re being overcharged, call them up and explain that you believe there’s been an overcharge on your student gas bill. If you’ve been undercharged, well then, that up to you!

Student Gas Bills Summary

Now that you know everything you need about your student gas bills, from taking find your meter to taking a readying that’s one less thing you need to stress out about! You can now rest assured, that you’re being charged the right amount and you’re on your wat to becoming a fully functioning adult. Now go and treat yourself that Maccy D’s.

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