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Understanding your electricity meter

Learning how to read your meter can be a handy skill to have and it is not difficult to learn.

Being able to read your meter will allow you to monitor your daily usage, to check the use of individual appliances, to check for possible electrical faults and to take action promptly instead of finding out from your next bill that something may be wrong.

The information below provides details about your meter, about the rights and responsibilities with regard to reading your meter and provision of access.

Meter identifiers

electricity meter

Each electricity meter has a unique serial number located on its front.

You should quote your meter number when you contact your retailer, especially if you are moving, transferring, or if your address is difficult to locate.

As your meter number changes when a meter is replaced, there is a second identifier called a National Metering Identifier (NMI).

The NMI is attached to your address and not your meter.

Some properties may have more than one NMI. You can find your NMI on your electricity bill.


Where is your meter?

Meters are usually in obvious places at the front or back of a property.

If you are in a unit complex, it is likely that all of the meters are in a central location.

Some older units may have a meter inside the unit, or there may be one central meter where the landlord determines how consumption is charged.

Who reads your meter?

In most cases the electricity distributor, SA Power Networks, is responsible for reading your meter.

Your meter should ideally be read at least every three months and the distributor must use their best endeavours to obtain an actual meter read at least once every 12 months.

All meter readers must carry official identification when accessing your property.

Access to your meter

You must provide clear access to your meter at all times for meter reads, connections or disconnections and maintenance.

If the meter reader cannot access your meter, your read will be estimated, and if you do not make alternative arrangements to provide access to your meter, your retailer may disconnect your supply.

You should contact your retailer to make alternative arrangements.

Are you being billed for your meter?

The meter number on your bill should match the number on the meter at your property.

If you have peak and off-peak meters, make sure that they match with the meter numbers on your bill.

If they do not match, or any are missing, you should contact your retailer and provide the correct meter number.

If your meter is grouped with a large number of other meters, you may want to check which meter is yours. Turn off the main switch to your property for a few minutes and see if the meter you believe to be yours stops recording usage.

If the meter does not stop, it could mean:

  • It is not your meter. Check to see if one of the other meters has stopped - that may be your meter.
  • There may be something else connected to your meter that you are not aware of (a shed, or something from a neighbouring property or common areas).
  • The meter may be faulty. You can contact your retailer and arrange a meter test. Be aware that the test is at your cost unless the meter is found to be faulty. It is rare for meters to be faulty, so a meter test should be the last resort.

Also, take note of any lights or other electrical appliances around your property that stop working when you turn off your main switch, such as neighbouring properties or community lighting, as this may mean that your meter is supplying their power and you may be charged for these also.

How to read your meter

If you know how to read your meter, you can keep track of your usage between bills and check that your bills are correct when you receive them.

There are different types of electricity meters.

Dial Meters have small clock faces and are read left to right, ignoring the dial marked 1/10, and you record the numbers from each dial.

  • If the pointer is between two numbers, record the lowest number.
  • If the pointer is directly over a number, draw a line under it when you write it down.
  • Of the underlined numbers, if any are followed by an 8 or 9, then reduce the number by 1. 

Digital meters are meters with digital displays, and are again read from left to right, ignoring numbers after the decimal point.

A digital meter has the ability to record different types of use.

  • Register 3 will show peak use.
  • Register 7 will show off-peak use.
  • Register 9 will show solar (PV) generation, if applicable.


Further information can be found at the Government of South Australia's website.

Calculating your usage

Your electricity meter records your usage in kilowatt-hours.

By taking the current read and subtracting the previous read, you can calculate your usage by dividing by the days between the reads to give you a daily average.

This is how the average daily usage listed on your bill is calculated.

Links and further information