Energy Meters: Types of meters in Belgium, Process for Installing a New Meter, and How to Read One
An Energy meter measures the amount of electricity or gas consumed in kWhs over a set period of time. Your energy supplier determines your bills according to this measurement. In this energy guide we will cover the different types of meters and how to submit your meter reading.
If you are building or renovating your home, the electricity connection is an important part to consider. Also, moving into a new residence, it is important to understand what kind of meter you have and what kind of tariffs you can contract to.
The Different Types of Meters: Single Rate, Dual Rate, and Exclusively Night
There are different models of electrical meters, adapted to the needs and consumption of each household.
The single rate meter (compteur simple), has only one consumption index. This means that the price per kWh, set by the energy supplier, will always be the same, whether day time or night time.
The dual rate meter (compteur bi-horaire), has two consumption indices to differentiate between your day time and night time consumption. Normally your night time consumption would have better rates.
The exclusively night meter (compteur exclusif nuit) is an additional type of meter, mainly used by homes with electric storage heaters. Its rate is generally the same as the night time rate.
What are the night rate hours?Usually on weekdays from 10 pm to 7 am, and on weekends from Friday 10 pm to Monday 7 am. To find out your exact off peak hours, contact your distribution supply operator.
Choosing Between a Single Rate and a Dual Rate Meter
The choice between a single rate and dual rate meter depends on your consumption habits.
If you have a large household and a lot of appliances that you will mainly use at night, then the dual rate meter will be more suitable for you.
On the other hand, if you have a small apartment, or if most of your consumption is during the day, then the single rate meter will be the best choice.
Be aware though, that the day rate on a dual rate tariff is normally higher than a standard single rate tariff. So if you have a dual rate meter and tariff, be sure to use them wisely to see savings. It is advised that at least 20% - 40% of your consumption should be during the low rate hours, which generally begins around 10 pm.
What are the Procedures for Installing or Changing an Electric Meter?
If you are building a new house, you will need to install an electric meter. If you move into an older home, you might need to change the meter. And if your consumption habits change, you might want to change the meter. In all cases, the request will be submitted to your Distribution Supply Network Operator.
In Belgium, regardless of the network operator, the installation procedure for your electricity meter is the same:
- You make the connection request, receive and approve the quote issued by your network manager
- You carry out prep work on your property
- Before installing the meter, you must contract with an energy supplier (of your choice), your network operator will give you the EAN code to use for your contract
- The network operator installs your meter and opens your electricity connection
The EAN code is the identification number of your meter. It is made up of 18 digits and always starts with 54 in Belgium. Do not confuse the EAN code with your meter serial number. The meter serial number is located directly on the meter and is made up of 6 - 8 digits only.
As for changing the electricity meter, the request can come from you, or it can be imposed on you by your network operator if your meter is no longer supported or up to standards. Below are some cases in which electricity meters might require changing:
- Replacement of an obsolete meter
- Changing a single rater meter to a dual rate meter
- Installation of an exclusively night meter
- Relocation of a meter within the home
If you make the request, the procedure will be the same as for a new connection. If the network operator is requesting the change, then you do not have to take any action. They will contact you directly and do all the necessary work.
Price of an electric meter
Installing or replacing an electric meter is not a free process. It will be necessary to contact your DSO to have a precise estimate of the cost.
For example, siblega charges around € 70 including VAT for the installation of a new meter. The replacement of an existing meter is more expensive, however, in the range of € 250 to € 400 including VAT. Best of all, though, is when the electricity meter is considered obsolete, your DSO has the legal obligation to replace it, and it will be free of charge.
The cost of installing an electric meter depends on several factors, including:
- Your network operator
- The voltage of the meter to be installed
- The type of meter (single rate, dual rate, exclusively night)
To find out the exact cost, call your network operator directly.
||078 15 78 01|
||04 220 12 11|
||085 27 49 00|
||060 45 91 62|
||010 22 26 53|
||078 35 35 00|
||02 549 41 00|
Gas Meter Connection Procedures
The natural gas meter measures the amount of cubic meters of gas consumed over a set period of time. The cubic meters consumed are converted into kWhs on the basis of conversion coefficient. The gas supplier then determines the energy bill from the gas meter reading.
Unlike electricity, the gas meter has only one model. Since there is no dual rate or exclusively night meters, your consumption rate will be the same day and night.
In Belgium, the procedure for installing and connecting a gas meter is the same as for an electric meter. Regarding your meter readings, your gas meter can be read monthly, or annually depending on your expected annual consumption. For example, if your consumption is greeted than 300,000 kWh / year, sibelga installs a remote reading meter allowing automatic monthly readings.
What is a Budget Meter?
The budget meter (compteur à budget) is a system that allows you to control the amount of gas and / or electricity consumed by using a rechargeable top up card.
You can install a gas and / or electric budget meter by your own choice. In this case, its installation will be chargeable and the price will depend on your network operator. Resa does not have a fixed price, you will have to ask them for a quote, while ORES charges € 500 for the installation.
If you are on a social tariff, you can benefit from a free budget meter installation. But if your energy supplier imposes a budget meter installation on your based on debt or a dispute, then the installation price will also depend on your network operator. ORES installs it for free in such circumstances, while Resa charges € 150 for a gas budget meter, and € 100 for an electric budget meter.
You can recharge your budget meter card at several locations, including:
- DSO reception offices
- Specific CPAS
- Specific merchants such as Day&Night, or convenience stORES
- Regarching terminals found in the street or bookstORES
If you have moved into a residence with a budget meter, and you prefer not to use it in budget mode, you do not need to change your meter. Simply, take out an energy contract with your provider of choice, and then contact your DSO 24 to 48 hrs after your contract has been validated. You will ask them for a deactivation card which you will use to change your meter back to standard mode.
Be aware that in Belgium prices are not affected by the mode in which the meter acts, you will have the same tariff prices if you are in budget mode or in standard mode. The only difference will be the payment method, whether it is prepaid or postpaid.
When and How to Read a Meter
Once a year, it is necessary to submit a meter reading in order to calculate your exact annual energy consumption. In general, when you pay your energy supplier, it is based on an estimate of your consumption. Which is why it is necessary to submit your annual meter reading, to know if the amount you have paid throughout the year corresponds to your actual consumption.
If you have an online customer space with your provider, you can enter meter readings more regularly and track your consumption. If you notice you are using more or less than the estimate, then you can adjust your billing amount to reflect that. And that way you will not have any surprises on your year end bill.
The estimates that the energy companies use for your bills are based on previous years consumption. So if you have been at your residence for a long time, your estimate will be more accurate. But if you are moving newly into the residence, then the estimate will be based on the previous tenants usage, so it is better for you to self manage and monitor.
For the annual reading, it can be done in one of two ways:
- Normally, a technician will come to your home to do it
- If you are absent when the technician comes, you will have to read the meter yourself and return the reading card
If you need to submit the meter reading yourself, first verify that your meter serial number is the same as the meter number on the reading card. You will find an “Nr” or an “nº” on your meter followed by 6-8 digits. That is your meter number.
Once verified, then write down all the numbers in the black zone of your meter reading dials, which are the ones before the decimal point. The ones after the decimal point, i.e. the ones in the red zone, should not be included.
How is the 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.
New Smart Meter Technology
Some tasks relating to electricity and gas meters can be tiresome. For example, the meter index reading or topping up a budget meter. This is why, more and more in Belgium, smart meters are being installed in homes.
The smart meter digitizes all consumption data. This system allows the consumer to have a general and detailed view of what they have consumed but also avoids technicians having to travel for certain interventions such as:
- The year end meter index reading
- The opening or closing of a meter
- Managing the power of an electric meter
There is little known about the new systems since in Wallonia and Brussels the smart meter project is still a pilot phase. In Flanders, the first smart meters will be installed at the beginning of July.