To use the Carbon Account effectively, you need to enter readings from your gas and electricity meters. This can be quite a challenge to do correctly so this help is here to try and make it as easy as possible.
The most important thing to get right when adding your first gas reading is whether your meter displays in cubic feet or cubic metres. It should be clear from your meter which unit it measures in. Most gas meters are in cubic feet, but newer meters usually measure in cubic metres. You need to take readings slightly differently depending on which unit your meter measures in.
For meters that measure in cubic feet, you need to note down all of the numbers that appear on your meter, including the two smaller (often red) digits to the right of the main numbers. This should give you a five or six digit number. Note that this is different from what your gas supplier asks for - they only take the first four digits (giving a figure in 'hundreds of cubic feet'), but we need two extra figures, so that we've got the actual full amount.
For meters that measure in cubic meters, we need the first five digits that appear on the meter. There may be more digits following, and you can enter these if you ensure there is a decimal point after the first five numbers.
A good way to test whether or not you are taking gas readings correctly is to visit your houses page and check the daily average CO2 for gas. If this figure is less than 0.5, it is likely you are not entering enough digits or you are entering in cubic metres when it should be cubic feet. If it is more than 10 then it is likely you are entering too many digits (unless you live in a very large/drafty house and have very large gas bills).
To help you understand how to read your meter correctly, here's some photos of different types of gas meter. If you can't see a meter similar to yours, then please send us a photo and we'll give you advice about how to read it correctly.
There are two main types of electricity meter: those with numeric displays that are easily read from left to right (these can be analogue or digital), and those that are dials.Numeric display meters are quite straightforward to read. Usually you simply need to read from left to right. You shouldn't include any red digits or extra dials that appear.
If you are on a dual rate tariff like "Economy 7" then you need to specify this when you set your electricity supplier with the Carbon Account, and enter two different readings each time you enter your data. Some people who have a dual rate tariffs have two readings in one meter, whilst others have two entirely separate meters. If you're unsure about whether you are on a dual rate tariff, you should call your electricity supplier to check.
Dial meters are tricky to read because each dial turns in opposite directions. The dial furthest to the left turns clockwise, the one to the right of that turns anti-clockwise and so on. Don't include the red dial furthest to the right.
To help you understand how to read your meter correctly, here's some photos of different types of electricity meter. If you can't see a meter similar to yours, then please send us a photo and we'll give you advice about how to read it correctly.
Smart meters are advanced meters that automatically send data to your energy supplier. At the moment only a handful of homes have them but the Government is considering making them mandatory, and has talked about all UK properties having them installed within ten years.
If this were to happen, it would make monitoring energy use much easier and hopefully lead to big savings. It would also mean you wouldn't have to manually enter your readings into the Carbon Account!
If you want to find out more about smart meters, and encourage the Government to adopt them, visit the Energy Retail Association website.