You and Your Gas Meterby Sam Jones Content Creator and Link Builder Natural gas is making life easier for Canadians right across the country - heating and cooling their homes, helping them cook their food, running their appliances and powering their water heaters. According to the Canadian Gas Association, a full 56% of Canadian homes currently use natural gas as an energy source.
Natural gas has a variety of benefits - it's affordable, safe and accessible. However, as more and more homes turn to natural gas for their energy needs, it becomes ever more important that Canadians understand how their gas meters work - and how to make them work to their benefit.
What is a gas meter?
A gas meter is a device that measures how much natural gas you use, whether it's for heating, cooking, or any other purpose. Gas meters vary in appearance, from older dial types to newer digital versions. If you use natural gas in your home, then you have a gas meter somewhere, either inside or outside of your house.
Who reads the meter?
A representative from your gas company will come to read the meter on a regular basis. Some natural gas suppliers send someone to read the meter monthly. However, it is very common for suppliers to issue monthly bills based on estimates that are later adjusted. Instead of reading the meter every single month, they will estimate your use based on previous months, and then send a representative later on to adjust the payment amounts as necessary. This means that you will pay more later, or get a refund, based on the difference between the estimate and your usage.
Why should you learn to read your gas meter yourself?
The potential problem with an estimated monthly bill, of course, is that it's hard to keep track of exactly how much gas you're using every month. If you pay too much, you will find yourself with a lower payment later on, when your bill is adjusted. While this can provide a welcome reprieve, it can also make it hard to budget accurately. The bigger problem presents itself when your estimated payments are lower than your actual use. When your bill is adjusted, you might find yourself with an unexpectedly high payment, which can be a shock to the wallet, and possibly even present a major financial hardship for people on a tight budget.
Taking accurate readings yourself ensures that you will pay for what you use on a monthly basis. It will allow you to compare costs and decide if you want to switch companies for a lower rate. Taking your own readings can also help you keep track of your energy efficiency. If you're paying estimated rates every month, it's much harder to see how changes such as lowering the heat or adding insulation might be affecting your monthly bills.
Finally, if you're someone who likes playing with numbers, then taking your own readings makes it much easier for you to compare your energy usage - and your costs - on a month-to-month or a year-to-year basis.
How do you read a gas meter?
First of all, you need to determine what kind of gas meter you have. Most newer meters will be digital, although some of the older ones have a series of dials that look a bit like analog clocks.
If you have a standard meter, you'll see five black numbers followed by red numbers. To take a reading, write those five black numbers down, going from left to right. Ignore the red numbers - they aren't really important for your purposes.
If you have a digital meter, then again you'll see numbers, this time followed by a decimal point and more numbers. Write down the five numbers before the decimal point, going from left to right. Any numbers after the decimal point can safely be ignored.
Dial meters - more common in older gas meters - are a little bit more complicated to read. Typically, there will be four dials in a row, one next to the other. In some cases, there might be five dials. Either way, write down the number on each dial, going from left to right. If the indicator on the dial is pointing between two numbers, then choose the one that it's closest to. Be aware that dials next to one other rotate in different directions.
What about faulty gas meters?
According to a British report on thisismoney.co.uk, one in six consumers was being regularly overcharged due to faulty older gas meters, to the tune of millions of pounds every year. Conversely, less than 1% of faulty gas meters led to consumers being undercharged.
While this report can't necessarily be extrapolated to the Canadian market, it does drive home the importance of being vigilant and aware. It is in everyone's best interest - both consumers and suppliers - that people have an understanding of their gas meters and energy use.
Of course, simply taking monthly readings won't ensure that your gas meter isn't reading slightly above or below where it should be. It will, however, make it much easier for you to keep track of sudden unexplained changes in energy use. If you notice a sudden spike or a surprising drop in your energy use, you should contact your supplier. They will send someone to check your meter. If it's faulty, then it will be replaced or repaired.
If you've been overcharged, then your supplier will either issue a refund or put the surplus towards a future bill. If you've been undercharged, then you'll have to make up the difference. All the more reason to keep track, so that you don't find yourself grappling with an unexpected high bill down the road!
What should you do after taking a reading?
Compare your meter reading to your past bills. This will give you an idea as to whether your monthly use seems to match what's on your bill.
Being aware and informed will help you continue to enjoy the benefits of natural gas - affordability, safety, reliability - while taking a more active role in monitoring your own energy use.
Created on Dec 31st 1969 19:00. Viewed 0 times.
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