How to Read an Electric or Gas Meter
Do you need to take the meter reading but you don't know how to do it? This energy guide explains how to take a meter reading depending on the type of meter you have. We also explain when to take the reading and why it is important for you to do so, as well as meter reading procedures depending on your network manager (ORES, Sibelga, Resa).
How do I take a meter reading?
The meter reading (relevé de compteur), otherwise called meter index reading (relevé d’index), allows you to know exactly how much electricity and gas you have consumed over a period of time. It is carried out by your distribution network operator once a year.
To adjust what you have paid to what you actually consumed, the meter reading is essential.
By reading your meters, you will later be reimbursed in the event that your down payments were too high or, if not, you will owe your supplier money if they were not high enough.
How is your consumption calculated? It is calculated by subtracting the index reading for the current year from that of the previous year.
For example: last year, your year end reading was 30,600 kWhs. This year, it is 34,600 kWhs. You have therefore consumed 4,000 kWhs this year.
As mentioned, the meter reading is normally done by a technician working for your distribution network operator.
However, you may have to take one yourself, in case you were not present when they came.
Below, we explain how to read a meter, depending on the type of meter you have.
Single Rate Meter Reading
To read your single rate electric meter (compteur électrique simple), you must first check that your meter serial number matches the one indicated on your reading card. The meter serial number is usually located on the bottom of the device and is preceded by “nº” or “Nr”.
Your meter reading statement card only shows the last 4 digits of your meter serial number in order to identify it correctly.
Once verified and validated, you simply need to note the index reading on your card. The index corresponds to the numbers indicated on the black dials. You should only take into account the numbers placed before the decimal point, that is, those written before the red zone of the dial.
The meter reading of the exclusively night meter is done in exactly the same way as a single rate electricity meter.
Dual Rate Electricity Meter Reading
The main difference between a single rate and dual rate meter (compteur bi-horaire) is that the latter takes into account two different consumptions, namely day time and night time, or peak and off peak consumption rates.
There will therefore be two indices indicated above.
To read your dual rate meter, you must first check the last 4 digits of your meter serial number as shown on your meter reading statement card.
Then you will be able to note your day and night indexes, also located in the black dials. Just like the single rate counter, you should only note the digits before the decimal point.
You will normally see a sun for the day time, and a crescent moon indicating the night time index. Otherwise, you might see a I for the day time, and a II for the night time.
Gas Meter Reading
To read your gas meter, the procedure is exactly the same as for the single rate electric meter.
You must therefore check the last 4 digits of your gas meter serial number to be sure you are reading yours.
Then, you must write down on your card the consumption index indicated on the black dials of the meter. As with electricity, you should only note the digits before the decimal point.
Budget Meter Reading
The budget meter works with a rechargeable top up card system and allows consumers to manage their day-to-day electricity and / or gas consumption.
The meter reading is therefore not done in the same way as with a conventional meter since the display is digital to show both budget and consumption information.
Thus, to read the indexes on your electricity budget meter, you must press the blue button so that your consumption is displayed:
- 6 times for the single rate index
- 7 times for the daytime consumption of the dual rate meters
- 9 times for the night consumption of the dual rate meters
To read the index on your budget gas meter, you must press the gray button until your consumption per m3 is displayed on the screen.
Smart Meter Reading
The smart meter allows you to manage meter readings digitally and sends it directly to your network manager. It also allows consumers to better manage their consumption and personal data.
This system, relatively new in Belgium, is not yet implemented across the country. However, by 2029, the state hopes that the majority of Belgian households will be equipped with a smart meter.
The advantage of this meter is that many procedures are digitized, in particular the meter readings. This means technicians no longer need to come home and you no longer need to read your indices on your own.
When to take Meter Readings
Previously, we mentioned that a meter reading is normally taken once a year to adjust for any discrepancies between your usage and how much you have paid throughout the year.
However, there are other scenarios where you can read your consumption indexes. We explain them to you below.
Meter Reading During When Moving Homes
When moving homes, you will have to read your meter in order to close your account at your old address and pay for exactly what you consumed there.
This avoids you from paying for energy that the new occupant will use, and also allows the new occupant to avoid paying for energy they have not consumed.
The best way to do that is with the Transfer of Energy Document (document reprise des energies). Once filled out, both the old and new tenants, or the landlord in certain cases, will sign the document to make it official.
As mentioned previously, your monthly payments to a supplier are based on estimates. So if you have recently moved into a new home, the estimates will be based on the usage of the old occupant. Therefore, it is advised for you to self manage your meter readings during your initial stay on your suppliers online customer area so that you don’t end up with any surprises when you receive your year end bill.
Meter Reading When Switching Suppliers
If you want to change suppliers, you will also need to know your meter reading.
What you consume and therefore, what you pay, comes back to your supplier. To be completely in good standing with the latter, you must submit your meter index readings in order to close your old contract in due form, and open your new contract on the correct meter index.
Meter Readings with ORES
ORES is the main operator of the distribution network in Wallonia.
With them, the index reading also takes place every year, but the procedure is different since the technician comes to physically read your meters every other year.
The year after, it's your turn to submit the meter readings. You will be notified of when to do so by mail.
If you are not present when ORES passes, the technician will leave a card in your mailbox with the date of his next visit. If you are still not there on the 2nd visit, then you will have to do the reading yourself.
To submit your meter reading statement to ORES, you have two options:
- Via their website
- By phone on their toll free number 0800 16 349
ORES does not have a fixed schedule by municipality. You must therefore contact them to find out the date they will visit in your town, by calling them on 078 15 78 01.
If you have not sent your statement by the required time, ORES will make an estimate of your consumption which you can dispute if it is not correct.
Meter Readings with Resa
Resa is the main network operator in the province of Liège.
Your meter reading is taken every year. A technician will come to your home to take note of the indexes.
If you are not present during their passage, Resa will leave you a note inviting you to submit your meter readings on your own. You will then have to submit them by internet, on their website.
Meter Readings with Sibelga
Sibelga is the distribution network manager for the Brussels-Capital region.
The meter reading takes place every year and is subject to a schedule by municipality which does not change.
You may sometimes be absent when the technician comes by. In this case, you will have to complete your meter reading yourself within 15 days.
To do this, you have the choice between three options:
- Mail the card left by the technician to:
Sibelga - Relevé des index
1000 Brussels Brouckère
- Submit them by phone at the toll free number 0800 96 684 which is available 24/7
- Submit them over the internet via your reference number indicated on the calling card
If for some reason you have not been able to submit your readings, Sibelga will estimate your reading and send it to your supplier for your year end invoice. The estimate is based on what you have consumed in previous years. You can dispute it with your supplier if you are not satisfied with it.