Electronic Meter readings.

  It's Me 15:31 23 Sep 2004

The meter readers around here use an electronic gadget into which they key the readings. Does anyone know how these communicate with say the Water authority or Electricity Board. Both are read by the same man, but in their usual efficient manner on completely separate occasions.

What really upsets me, is that the info is not always used. For instance, yesterday I received our Electricity bill, showing an estimated reading and a request that I read the meter myself and phone the results so that they could settle the annual account (I pay by Direct Debit). The meter was in fact read on the 2nd September and I took a copy of the readings, which were similar but not the same. (We have 3 meters to read as we have each of the 3 phases coming into our house which is an amazing story itself).
A phone call to the Help Line and the lady goes away to check my story, and sure enough she finds the readings, which check precisely with my copy, and No, she has no idea why they weren't used, and would I like her to issue another bill with those readings on it! (The actual readings were slightly more than the estimate)

I reckon it is just me that gets these strange hassle happenings.

  Forum Editor 16:18 23 Sep 2004

is downloaded back at the ranch, and the information is used to generate your bill - the process is all automated, and as far as I know there's no human intervention once the data is in the system.

In the future there won't be any meter reading staff - the data will be accessed via phone lines that will run to each meter, so your reading can be taken in your absence, without anyone ever needing to visit the house.

  TOPCAT® 16:40 23 Sep 2004

after the reader has been and submit them online if possible. Not so simple in some cases if you're out or at work when the reader comes to call. Some if not all newer homes now have external 'boxes' housing the meters, so little home intrusion is necessary.

I've had problems with some reader's input before, but my customer readings have always prevailed so far.

Can't answer your question really, but I guess the reader enters different codes into his machine for each utility and this is supposed to transfer data to the correct utility when the machine is scanned or whatever.

Moves are afoot, I hear, to collect customer readings via the very meters themselves. I suspect they will have to replace or convert many, many meters before this can happen. Unless someone knows differently of course. TC.

  It's Me 16:43 23 Sep 2004

Thanks for that, however it just makes the whole affair even more mystifying, and I have to hasten to add that this is not the first time this has happened, and not only at the year end either.

  oresome 18:47 23 Sep 2004

The data may well be all automated once it's in the system. Entering it into the hand-held device in the first place is where most of the problems will occur.

They've been talking of remotely reading utility meters for donkey's years. I expect they will still be talking when I'm dead and buried. The capital cost is prohibitive.

  end 22:37 23 Sep 2004

mine is somewhat more intriguing; am seldom , if ever in when someone comes to read the meters, so they get estimated.that"s fine, but trying to explain to someone when I phone up to give my own readings , that my household does not use what they think is the standard amount of gas, is "interesting" to say the least:)

am sure they think I am cheating:(

  spuds 01:07 24 Sep 2004

Funny this topic should crop up. Yesterday the meter reader called at my premises, and undertook a meter reading.He also called at other properties in the area, some use different utility services and companies.

The thing that was baffling the meter reader was a block of properties that he was having extreme difficulty in finding, and which he had been told that he must obtain meter readings from as an urgency.I asked if he had visited certain new properties in the area, and he confirmed that he had.It would appear as though is machine was still programmed with buildings that had been demolished about five years ago, and replaced by new build.When this was explained to him, he became a very relieved person.

Regarding reading a meter 'without presence'. This as been trialed in various forms for ages without much success. We trialed a disc device on an exterior wall,which seemed a good idea, but this resulted in vandals having a fun day, with the end results that it was discontinued.

  Djohn 01:33 24 Sep 2004

from Siemens as part of their program of periodical renewal of equipment. Our provider is Powergen.

Meter is accessible from an outside cupboard that is locked but engineers and readers obtain a master key from the scheme manager when they visit, saves disturbing each tenant.

I was having a chat with the engineer regarding the new meter which is already very sophisticated in the way it displays information. We are on economy 10 so there are three readings to take.

With this new meter there is no need to press any buttons as it constantly cycles through all three readings on the display plus the day to day standing charge that is followed with a display of units used since last reading and a projected use of units at next reading [This constantly changes as each day goes by depending on what you use] giving you the choice to adjust your use of power if required.

The meter is capable and ready to be connected to our phone system when Powergen change to the new method of taking readings in our area.

  SEASHANTY 21:05 29 Sep 2004

Changed from British GAS and Norweb to dual fuel supply from Scottish Power. Savings of around £70 yearly with Monthly direct debit. Also save additional £15 yearly by having an ONLINE account.
Give then readings over the net approx every three months. They send email approx 10 days before readings due, followed by further email approx six days later if you still haven't given readings. Bill details are instantaneous bnut detailed bill
can be printed approx 48 hours later. Previous
bill history also available online. Fixed prices with them at start of this year which remain constant until 2006. They always accept my readings but meter reader does occasionally call for check readings. Beats me why people still stay with B.G. They are surely paying the price. Just apathy I guess. Don't just THINK about changing - DO IT NOW.

  georgemac 07:10 30 Sep 2004

I too changed to scottishpower in July, online dual fuel monthly direct debit.

Got a letter saying the will send me a prepayment card for my electricity meter, and send someone to read the prepayment meter. I called them immediately, told them I don't have a prepayment meter. They also had changed the tariff! Apologised profusely, we will get this all sorted for you sir. To be sure I faxed all the information to their customer centre/head office.

I then got a request to set up direct debit for gas through the mail, so sent it off (already done online?). Back it came with my name and address correctly spelled on the letterhead, with my name spelled incorrectly on the direct debit details!

I emailed them, and also remarked the gas payments were already being collected (from original debit) but no electricity payments had yet been collected. Got a reply - our records show you have an electricity prepayment meter! I could not believe it - have now sent all meter details again by email! I wish it was connected by the phoneline. Still waiting to hear if it has all been sorted. Not impressed with the service so far.

I also got my final bills from Atlantic Energy, which showed I had overpaid by around £180. Thought this would be refunded to my bank account automatically, was not happening so I phoned them. No sir, it does not get refunded automatically, you have to request it and it will take 10 working days - absolutely incredible!

  Sapins 09:53 30 Sep 2004

I understand the new digital meters being fitted in France are read by just pointing the hand held device at them from the roadside, and also the occupant can key into the meter and get the consumption for individual light bulbs as well as all appliances fitted in the house.

Of course France has overtaken the UK in many aspects of technology.

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