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Why does my gas smart meter reading not agree with my bill?

  • 2 December 2017
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I had smart meters fitted several months ago. The bill charges from OVO make sense with what I would expect, but the gas readings on the new smart meter do not. [The electric smart meter readings do make sense.]
The smart gas meter gives readings in cubic meters, which is what one wants to thoroughly check ones gas bill. It also gives the kWh. But the OVO website, the IHD, and now the OVO bills only give the readings in kWh. [The bills used to be in cubic meters, as required.] So I go to the smart meter to get the reading in cubic meters to do my own calculation, as I have done for many years. But its values do not agree with the kWh values in the bill. Today, only 2 days after the end of month, it gives the running total for the gas as 244 cubic meters and 2735 kWh – both of which are far too high. But the OVO bill for the end of the month had a running total for the gas of just 230 kWh; and if one calculates what the corresponding reading would be in cubic meters it is 20.4 (using the latest calorific value factor, and which only varies slightly from month to month).
The OVO bill makes sense with what I would expect, so what is the gas smart meter (so called) doing?
[By the way, like most gas meters it is near the ground; but whereas I could read the old analogue meter from above, I now have to lie on my side, on the ground, outside, to read the ‘smart’ digital display!]
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Best answer by Nancy_OVO 8 December 2017, 18:07

I had smart meters fitted several months ago. The bill charges from OVO make sense with what I would expect, but the gas readings on the new smart meter do not. [The electric smart meter readings do make sense.]
The smart gas meter gives readings in cubic meters, which is what one wants to thoroughly check ones gas bill. It also gives the kWh. But the OVO website, the IHD, and now the OVO bills only give the readings in kWh. [The bills used to be in cubic meters, as required.] So I go to the smart meter to get the reading in cubic meters to do my own calculation, as I have done for many years. But its values do not agree with the kWh values in the bill. Today, only 2 days after the end of month, it gives the running total for the gas as 244 cubic meters and 2735 kWh – both of which are far too high. But the OVO bill for the end of the month had a running total for the gas of just 230 kWh; and if one calculates what the corresponding reading would be in cubic meters it is 20.4 (using the latest calorific value factor, and which only varies slightly from month to month).
The OVO bill makes sense with what I would expect, so what is the gas smart meter (so called) doing?
[By the way, like most gas meters it is near the ground; but whereas I could read the old analogue meter from above, I now have to lie on my side, on the ground, outside, to read the ‘smart’ digital display!]


Hey @GriffinBev,

Just so you know I've changed the title of your post and added some tags so other users looking for similar information can get to it easily.

Let me just say this first of all - gas is a tricky one! There are a few variables that change all the time, meaning being very precise is really difficult.

First there's the volume in which your meter measures, which could be metric (meters cubed) or imperial (hundreds of cubic feet). This needs converting into KWh, as this is what we charge in. You'll notice the unit rate on your MyOVO account is listed as 'per KWh'. There's a different calculation for metric and imperial, but the one you need will be indicated on your bill.

While we're converting, we also factor in the calorific value. This means, how much energy does the gas produce when burnt, and depends on what gases are in the mix, and the quality of it. This varies from region to region, and month to month depending on who we're buying gas from and where it's shipped to in the UK. Our suppliers let us know the calorific value, which is fed into your bill. However, we do only display this to a couple of decimal points on your bill, where in actual fact it might be a few more. We do this for ease of calculation.

Your gas smart meter measures the reading in meters cubed, and this is what it displays. Though it can calculate and show what this is in KWh too, we display it as the volume rather than the KWh to be in line with traditional meters.

It might be easier to talk through the charges with a member of our team, who you can reach on 0330 303 5063. They'd be happy to look over the figures with you to make sure it all makes sense. UPDATED 18/07/19 We're also happy to help on Facebook or Twitter, just send us a message with your name, DoB and account number.

Cheers,
Nancy
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I had smart meters fitted several months ago. The bill charges from OVO make sense with what I would expect, but the gas readings on the new smart meter do not. [The electric smart meter readings do make sense.]
The smart gas meter gives readings in cubic meters, which is what one wants to thoroughly check ones gas bill. It also gives the kWh. But the OVO website, the IHD, and now the OVO bills only give the readings in kWh. [The bills used to be in cubic meters, as required.] So I go to the smart meter to get the reading in cubic meters to do my own calculation, as I have done for many years. But its values do not agree with the kWh values in the bill. Today, only 2 days after the end of month, it gives the running total for the gas as 244 cubic meters and 2735 kWh – both of which are far too high. But the OVO bill for the end of the month had a running total for the gas of just 230 kWh; and if one calculates what the corresponding reading would be in cubic meters it is 20.4 (using the latest calorific value factor, and which only varies slightly from month to month).
The OVO bill makes sense with what I would expect, so what is the gas smart meter (so called) doing?
[By the way, like most gas meters it is near the ground; but whereas I could read the old analogue meter from above, I now have to lie on my side, on the ground, outside, to read the ‘smart’ digital display!]


Hey @GriffinBev,

Just so you know I've changed the title of your post and added some tags so other users looking for similar information can get to it easily.

Let me just say this first of all - gas is a tricky one! There are a few variables that change all the time, meaning being very precise is really difficult.

First there's the volume in which your meter measures, which could be metric (meters cubed) or imperial (hundreds of cubic feet). This needs converting into KWh, as this is what we charge in. You'll notice the unit rate on your MyOVO account is listed as 'per KWh'. There's a different calculation for metric and imperial, but the one you need will be indicated on your bill.

While we're converting, we also factor in the calorific value. This means, how much energy does the gas produce when burnt, and depends on what gases are in the mix, and the quality of it. This varies from region to region, and month to month depending on who we're buying gas from and where it's shipped to in the UK. Our suppliers let us know the calorific value, which is fed into your bill. However, we do only display this to a couple of decimal points on your bill, where in actual fact it might be a few more. We do this for ease of calculation.

Your gas smart meter measures the reading in meters cubed, and this is what it displays. Though it can calculate and show what this is in KWh too, we display it as the volume rather than the KWh to be in line with traditional meters.

It might be easier to talk through the charges with a member of our team, who you can reach on 0330 303 5063. They'd be happy to look over the figures with you to make sure it all makes sense. UPDATED 18/07/19 We're also happy to help on Facebook or Twitter, just send us a message with your name, DoB and account number.

Cheers,
Nancy
Thanks Nancy for replying. I am adding more details to the smart meter problem, including my identification of the cause, which is not any that you suggested:

1. First, it is not my check of the calculation in the bill (which you imply is the problem) I have been checking all the bill calculations for many years - ever since a previous supplier, ‘npower’, made serious errors amounting to several hundred pounds in my case. And clearly, one has to include the most significant and difficult part of the calculation. Not that it is difficult. It’s just primary school arithmetic.
2. Neither is it a question of the units or the number of significant figures, as you also suggested. I am fully aware that the meter does say cubic metres, as I stated in my previous post. And it never crossed my mind that a modern U.K. meter would use ‘hundreds of cubic feet’ - we are not in the USA. It is for these reasons that I have not taken your invitation to phone your team for a more detailed explanation of yours. I fully understand these points in #1 - #2.
3. Part of the problem is, as I explained before, that neither the IHD nor your website gives the gas volume reading; and so to get the gas volume, one has to read it off the ‘smart’ meter itself. And anyway, for a thorough check, one needs to go to the primary source of the data, which previously was the analogue meter and is now the smart meter.
4. And that remains the problem. I mentioned some of the difficulties with the smart meter in my original post. But there is another: the backlighting disappears after only a few seconds – and just as it starts to display the value for the gas volume. One needs the backlighting to read the display even in broad daylight, and I have had to restart the display several times before I had what I thought was the reading. I have since found that I can continue to read the display (without the backlighting) if I light it with a powerful torch. And that’s something else I did not need to do with the analogue meter.
5. With the powerful torch, and lying on my side to see the screen, and outside, on the ground, come rain, snow or shine, I can now see that the decimal point is in a different place to where I had thought when I only had a glimpse of the volume reading for a second or less, and even though I repeated the process several times. That explains the discrepancy.
Perhaps there’s a way of keeping the back lighting on for longer? But it’s not in the instructions; and pressing the start button, #9, again only repeats the display from the start, with it cutting out again just when it comes to the volume reading. And yes, I have tried button B – it does not help either.
Not such a smart meter?
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Hi @GriffinBev,

I'm sorry if my first response didn't answer your questions.

In terms of viewing the volume of gas used (the reading), you would need to get this directly from the meter. It's frustrating that this isn't in a convenient place for you. There's only one model of smart gas meter that we can install and it doesn't always fit perfectly in all properties.

If you're pressing button number 9 on the gas meter, it'll show 'VOL m3' first, and following that the reading. There's not a way of keeping the backlight on longer unfortunately. I can totally appreciate that this setup isn't very helpful, but rest assured your readings are being sent directly to us, and they're shown on your statement.

As I mentioned, if you're worried about anything on your bill or your charges, send me a PM

Thanks,
Nancy

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