How often do meters have to be read and by whom?
It is distributors who install meters and maintain and read them. Distributors must attempt to read them:
- at least once a year for clients consuming up to 500 scm/year;
- at least twice a year for clients consuming over 500 scm /year and up to 1,500 scm/year;
- at least three times a year for clients consuming over 1,500 scm/year and up to 5,000 scm/year;
- at least once a month for clients consuming over 5,000 scm/year.
For example if a client consumes 1000 scm of gas per year and the distributor read the metre on 1st February, the client can expect the distributor to read it once again in the following autumn as the distributor must try, for each reading, to acquire a reading relating to at least 80% of the reference period (1 year, 6 months, 4 months in accordance with client consumption).
In the event of new supply activation to a client consuming less than 5000 scm/year, a first attempt at reading must take place within 6 months of the day the service was activated.
The distributor can draw up reading plans which improve on those required by the authority, notifying the authority and all retailers present on the network. The distributor must publish the reader calendar on its website organised at least by post code.
We are talking of attempted and not certain readings because if meters are inside individual homes clients will not always be present to let the reader sent by the distributor in. Even if the meter is not at home it may be necessary for someone to open the front door or a gate to let the reader in to the room or place where meters are kept.
If clients are absent, distributors leave a notice informing clients of their visit and inviting clients to contact their gas retailer with a self-reading.
Distributors are also responsible for self-readings which absent clients can leave on their front doors (on post-it notes).
If distributors are not able to read meters and have not found client self-readings, they will estimate consumption on the basis of all available previous readings and self-readings and standard consumption profiles (i.e. consumption curves based on seasonal and client type factors).
Effective readings, self-readings collected by distributors or estimates calculated by distributors are sent to retailers who use them for invoicing in accordance with regulations (if the client is in a protected category) or the contract (if the client is a free market client).