# Is a gas meter mix-up costing you cash?

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| 16:54 UK time, Friday, 18 December 2009

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Dom Littlewood has been looking at gas meters. Why? Because a meter mix-up could be costing you cash! Watch the video above.

Gas bills are calculated on the basis of cubic metres of gas used, but not everyone has a new style metric meter.

If you still have an imperial meter or if your energy supplier believes you have an old style one then your bills will be multiplied by a factor of 2.83 to convert 100 cubic feet to a cubic metre.

Dom met viewers who were being charged as if they had an old imperial gas meter, even though their gas consumption was being measured by a metric one. This meant they were being charged roughly three times what they should've been paying.

How do I tell if I'm being overcharged?

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• 1. At 7:25pm on 18 Dec 2009, Jimbo Pike wrote:

Great feature - so pleased it got highlighted. I had the same trouble with EDF but it took me ages to get it solved. Have just moved to British Gas purely on the basis that they now allow their customers to only pay for what they use and have seemed to scrapped this crazy idea of 'estimating' bills. How could this have gone on so long - you'd never estimate you phone bill! About time the other firms followed British Gas and their product energy smart!

• 2. At 7:27pm on 18 Dec 2009, Michael wrote:

In a similar vein, I have tried endlessly to obtain from my gas provider: "how much do my cubic feet of gas cost?" My bill gives the cost in cubic metres, not very helpful when your gas meter actually reads cubic feet.

Perhaps you can help my dilemma; love the show, great format.

• 3. At 7:31pm on 18 Dec 2009, Donald Munro wrote:

Where did the conversion factor of 2.83 come from? Try 35.3 to get from m3 to cu.ft.

• 4. At 7:33pm on 18 Dec 2009, Declan Mee wrote:

Why is The One Show (and British Gas) quoting a conversion factor as "2.83 to convert 100 cubic feet to a cubic metre" when we all know that there are approximatley 10.76 cubic feet in a cubic metre, and we also know that 100 cubic feet equals 9.2903 cubic metres (as in fact 1 foot is exactly 0.3048 meters)? So, where does this conversion factor of 2.83 come from?

• 5. At 7:36pm on 18 Dec 2009, Eliza wrote:

£1627 back from my Gas Company...............

In the summer I received a cheque back from Scottish power for my gas meter for £1627 - I have to admit it took lots of complaints about expensive bills and almost no heating as I could not believe how expensive my bills had all become.

An easy check to see what type of meter you have is this - a 4 digit meter is an imperial meter and a 5 digit one is a metric one. Although several "meter readers" over the years had registered into their log books the fact that I had a 5 digit reading not a 4 digit one - no action was ever taken - it took over 8 months of complaints and calls to be told that Transco needed to come out and check my meter before they finally accepted that I did have a metric meter and then I received my cheque!! Yippee!!

Eliza from Hammersmith

• 6. At 7:36pm on 18 Dec 2009, Mike Eccles wrote:

The programme said that 2.83 Cubic feet of gas was equivalent to 1 cubic metre. You suggest above that 283 cubic feet are equivalent to 1 cubic metre. The correct conversion is I believe that 35.3 cubic feet (approximated) are equivalent to 1 cubic metre. Grossly misleading and simple mathematics. This is a scientific subject - is Dom educated in such areas?

• 7. At 7:39pm on 18 Dec 2009, tisha wrote:

I only just got my gas meter changed to metric a few hours ago, i am hoping that my bills will indeed go down because the meter man, discovered a small gas leak and has left me with no gas right now, meaning i can't use my cooker and i am freezing cos i have no heat.
The meter man said i had to get someone in to check where the leak is, i got a man who just came around and he cannot open the valve as it was tightened too thoroughly and he told me that the meter man didnt fix the meter to either the floor or wall and that is illegal.Now i am trying to contact siemans ( british gas) to see what they can do.I so wish i didn't agree to let them change my meter, especially before christmas and on a snowy cold day, i am unemployed so can't imagine how much this is going to cost me !!!!
I hope whatever i save in the long run,covers some of what i will need to borrow to cover this.
Regards

Tisha Carroll Edgware Middlesex

• 8. At 7:39pm on 18 Dec 2009, Paul Manning wrote:

On hearing your report I checked my meter/bill. I have a cubic feet meter and the calculation sent to me by my supplier is as follows: Units used x factor 100 x conversion factor 1.02264 x conversion factor 0.0283 x calorific value 39.5 divided by conversion factor 3.6. Can you please tell me what the "factor 100" is and why are there 2 conversion factors.

My last bill was as follows : units used 111 x 100 x 1.02264 = 11351.30 x conversion factor 0.0283 = 321.24 cubic meters x calorific value 39.5 divided by conversion factor 3.6 = 3254.71 kWh. As I'm only home 3 nights a week and the heating is either not on or turned down to 10 degrees I find it hard to believe this figure. Can you advise please?

• 9. At 7:44pm on 18 Dec 2009, VJenkins wrote:

I work for an energy supplier and I know that Imperial meters stopped being made in 2000. Therefore if the property was built after 2000 it is most probable that a metric meter has been fitted.
Gas bills are always calculated in kilo watt hours which is a metric measurement so will always be invoiced in the metric method.
I would also advise all readings on invoices, whether estimated or not to be checked against the reading on the meter, this way you know that you are invoiced correctly.

• 10. At 7:53pm on 18 Dec 2009, Jimbo Pike wrote:

• 11. At 8:01pm on 18 Dec 2009, Mike Eccles wrote:

Just to be clear: 1 m = 3.28083 ft. Thus 1m3 (1 cubic metre)= 3.28083 x 3.28083 x 3.28083 cubic feet = 35.3948 cubic feet. Less than GCSE level maths! Surely technically educated and economically driven utilities could not get this simple maths wrong. Or has the programme? Interestingly if you take the reciprocal you find that 1m3 = 2.825 x 100 ft3. So the word "mulitplier" is incorrect... So if you divide the 100 ft3 by 2.83 you get m3 (approximately).

• 12. At 8:03pm on 18 Dec 2009, rattana wrote:

i still got an old gas meter ft3 i will contact btitish gas for new metric reading tomorrow do i get my money back from the previouse bill.i dint know about ft3 and metric reading untill i wacht theoneshow on BBC1 tonight, i register with britishgas last year June 2008 they never mention about metric reading to me.

hope someone can help me.

• 13. At 8:04pm on 18 Dec 2009, mrs firkham wrote:

ive been having problems for a year now over my gas bills, as im sure there is something amiss with them. i was away in australia from nov 2008 until end of january 09 but the gas board insist that i used over £300 worth of gas in the period i wasnt there and the month of march when i was home. i have paid the £300 buthow do i get them to check my meter as the serial number on my bill is nothing like the serial number on the meter , i just seem to be going round in circles for the last 12 months , and im not so good at doing calculations so dont think il get anywhere just a bit worried as off to aus again soon and worried about the size of the bill il come home to . anyone got any advice it would be much appreciated mrs firkham

• 14. At 8:13pm on 18 Dec 2009, John wrote:

I was a victim of ever increasing bills from my supplier who just helped themselves by direct debit. They argued my metre was not metric. I was overcharged by £2,500 over 3 years. I had to fight very hard to get it back. I cancelled the direct debit and they threatened me with legal action! Needless to say I am no longer with that company and will never use n power again.

• 15. At 9:20pm on 18 Dec 2009, Anna Land wrote:

After watching Dom's report concerning Gas Meters on the One Show tonight, I am wondering about my mum's gas meter.

She has had an Imperial Gas Meter for at least the last twenty years. After contacting her Gas and Electricity supplier a couple of months ago after her last bill showed she was £108 in credit, I was told that the summer months make up for the winter months (which I do understand), but was told that the Company (E-on) estimated that my mum would use £400 worth of gas from Nomvember to April 2010. Given that she is a 76 year old pensioner who lives on her own and very rarely uses her central heating and has a gas fire in her living room and a heater in her bedroom which she puts on only for 30 minutes in the evening and her fire is on very low if at all, would she honestly use this amount of gas in this space of time.

Also, would it be worth having her gas meter checked and possibly replaced.

Anna Land

Kettering Northants

• 16. At 9:27pm on 18 Dec 2009, fastwelshdragon wrote:

I still have the old fashion ft meter and its been in my house since 1995 and I cannot get them to put a new one in.

• 17. At 02:27am on 19 Dec 2009, bunnyboo wrote:

This feature is highly misleading and unjust. They seem to just completely blame the energy companies. I feel it is grossly unfair how the company have been construed. The mix-up between imperial and metric meters happens when a customer has a had a meter exchange and the energy company have not been informed. What customer's, and obviously the "one show" don't seem to understand is that neither British Gas nor any other energy company actually own the meters in a customer's property. Gas meters are owned by National Grid, this means National Grid arrange to have them replaced when it is needed and it is THEIR engineers who come out and do the work, energy companies are not allowed BY LAW to change the meters!!! This seems to be scare mongering and what a lovely time of year to be doing it!

I think it is time people actually found out the facts about energy companies before they believe the worst about them. For instance, did you know it is illegal for them to earn interest off your money you may have in credit? It is put into a holding account or they will lose their license, so NO, Direct Debits are NOT a way of swindling money off customers.

End of Rant.

• 18. At 02:32am on 19 Dec 2009, bunnyboo wrote:

No matter whether you have a metric or an imperial meter your bills will be the same. Metric meters are not magic, they do not makes bills cheaper. If people want cheaper bills then use less energy!

• 19. At 09:16am on 19 Dec 2009, maureen wrote:

• 20. At 09:29am on 19 Dec 2009, maureen wrote:

• 21. At 2:38pm on 21 Dec 2009, Geoff wrote:

I work for a major energy supplier and i am asked a lot about the conversion factor of 2.38 when coverting imperial units to metric.

4 dial, imperial meters measure in Cubic Feet whereas 5 dial, metric meters measure in Cubic Meters.

A 4 dial meter has 6 digits. There are no decimal places. The final digit (6th digit) measures in Cubic Feet. The 5th digit measures in Tens of Cubic Feet and the 4th digit measures in Hundreds of Cubic Feet and so on.

For example, a meter reading on a 4 dial (imperial) meter reads as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6

The last 2 dials / numbers (5 and 6) in red are not used for billing.

To standardize our gas bills, we have to convert cubic feet to cubic meters. The confusing part is that a cubic foot is much smaller than a cubic meter. In fact 35.3 cubic feet is equal to one cubic meter. As the smallest digit we start billing from is digit 4, i.e. hundreds of cubic feet, we have to convert one hundred cubic feet to cubic meters therefore 2.83.

• 22. At 10:53pm on 21 Dec 2009, Linda V wrote:

A big thankyou for your programme on gas metres, cubic feet or metres - Friday 18th December. For two years I have been complaining about my gas bill, and now am due quite a large refund! Brilliant! And thanks again.

• 23. At 11:26am on 22 Dec 2009, Ryan - One Show team wrote:

Hi Linda, thanks for letting us know! Best wishes

• 24. At 12:06pm on 22 Dec 2009, CRFreeman wrote:

I was one of those appearing on the item so feel I have some valid views.

This is not about the estimation of the bills with a large adjustment when the real usage catches up with you, it's about whether your gas suppliers are thinking you've used almost 3 times the gas you actually have and then charge you for it.

The imperial unit used on the meters is 100ft3. As some correctly point out there are 35.3ft3 in a m3. So there are 2.83m3 in 100ft3. As the pricing is based on metric usage if you have an imperial meter the first thing the gas supplier has to do is to work out how many m3 you used. So if you've used 1 unit that's 100ft3 which is 2.83m3 so they multiply your units by 2.83. If you've got a metric meter then the units are m3 so no faxtor is necessary. Switching meters doesn't save you any money - it's just a different way of measuring your usage. The distance from London to Manchester is the same whether you measure it in miles or kilometres. But if the taxi is charging you £1 a mile you need to make sure that the odometers is in miles. If it's in kilometres then you'll end up paying £320 for a 200 mile journey.

It's the same with the gas, readings were taken on the meters which for example might have showed that 100 units were used over 3 months. The reality was that this was 100m3. However, the gas suppliers records showed these meters were imperial and so they thought that the usage was 100 x 100ft3 or 283m3. So they worked on the cost on this basis.

The gas companies need to take a lot of the responsibility here. The bills I have seen do not make it clear whether they have assumed the readings are in imperial or meteric so you don't know what they are doing unless you can work though all the calculations yourself to see if they've multiplied by 2.83 or not. But they don't make the calculations easy to follow. They jump from one number to another, they put a brief explanation of the formula in one place (usually on the back of the bill hidden amongst a lot of other information and the factors they use (T&P and Calorific Value) in another place (often in very small print tucked away in the corner of another page on the bill). My tarrif is dual priced where you pay so much for the first number of Kwh and a lower price for anything above that. But they don't show the two prices on the bill. What they do is to calculate the total cost and then divide the total cost by the total usage to give an average price and put that on the bill so you don't really know what they are charging, just what they are telling you. When I phoned my gas supplier to ask how they got to my cost and to explain it to me they told me it ws very complicated and clearly didn't want to explain it. I told them I have a degree in Maths so hopefully would be able to cope and only then did they show me where everything was and how to get to the answer and my impression was very reluctantly.

Bunnyboo is quite wrong. This doesn't just happen when meters are changed. Our houses were built in 2002 and the serial number of the meter starts with 2002. So they should be aware that they re metric. But when changing supplier the new supplier completes a record to say metric. I think this is because the metric meters are 5 digits (actually they are 8 digits but the last three have a red border around them which means these are the decimal places. When my supplier asked me how many digits my meter had and I told her 8 she was very condescending in saying excluding the red numbers. She told me it was common "sense", (but I think she meant "knowledge") that red numbers are decimals. Not unless you work in the industry and then my numbers aren't red, they just have a red border) while imperial are 4 (or six if you're like me with no common sense). Because our houses are quite new the first number is still on 0 so when the readings are taken, even though there are 5 digits only 4 are given. So it's automatically assume you're on imperial and charged accordingly. You would think that this would be picked up by the meter readers - but evidently not.

The other reeason the gas suppliers need to take responsibility is because when you phone to query anything, they do think "Oh I wonder if this is another case of incorrect meter records" they immediately respond that their records are correct and the high bills are due to the recent increase in gas prices. Even when I tried to insist my meter was metric the "customer service" assistant told me she would check, ;eft me on hold for 10 minutes and then came back to say I was definetly imperial and my bill was correct. No, all she had checked was her record, not the meter. I could see the meter and it has a m3 sign on it. I believe this is a deliberate ploy by the companies not to investigate anything. The onus is on you to prove to them that they are wrong. Only then will they adjust their records. We even had the case where one company finally admitted they were wrong in one case and had to refund aover £1,100 but they were still refusing to admit the same thing for a house 6 numbers away on the same road - all of which had serial numbers which started 2002 indicating the year of instalation. Bunnyboo, you can watch the item again on BBC iPlayer and you will see what the item is actually talking about.

This is not an isolated incident with one or two exceptional cases. It has happened many times just in our street alone. One, shall we say "older" person was due a refund of almost £1,600 and it was offered to credit this to her next bill. So they've been taking too much money over the past 3 years or so and their offer is to pay it back as she uses gas. At current consumption that would have taken about 4 years to clear. No interest, no compensation, no apology, just "we will pay back over 4 years". She could be dead before then. What could she have done with that money if she had had it when she should have? It's not just the money it's about the missed opprtunities in life. Yes, the gas compaies need to take responsibility and need to take their fair share fo the blame. I believe that as part of the meter reading, the reader needs to confirm the type of meter being used so that errors can be cleared up. But that will make meter reading half a second longer and isn't in the gas companies interests so there is no incentive.

The recurring theme I've heard is that there could be many problems out there but the gas companies won't look into it because there's nothing in ot for them. The only way will be for the regulator to force them to check all their records and this will only happen if enough people complain. It takesa lot of effort, but this could be costing people hundreds of pounds a year so encourage as many people as possible to check which type of meter they have (it should be shown on the front of the meter) and then phone the gas companies
to find out what their records say. If it's different get them to change and work out your refund. If you've changed supplier go back to each supplier as they should still have all the records. At the end of the day the gas compaies aren't going to help you so unless you do it yourself you might well be paying almost 3 times too much for your gas.

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