Energy providers are reporting that surging demand to submit meter readings today has led their websites to crash, but households should still ensure they take one.
Tomorrow sees the energy price cap rocket – taking the average household bill on these capped tariffs up by £693 to £1,971 annually – and experts have called on people to take a reading today, to ensure energy providers don’t overcharge for recent use.
But most energy firms are reporting problems, including British Gas, E.On, EDF Energy Shell Energy and Ovo (SSE), meaning households are struggling to access online accounts due to ‘technical issues’ and ‘essential maintenance’.
Despite this, a reading can still be taken today and submitted at a later date, once the rush has calmed down. This is Money explains what to do.
British Gas, E.On and EDF Energy website pages have crashed today, with thousands of customers trying to upload their latest meter readings ahead of April’s energy price hike
How to take your meter reading today
Customers have bene urged over recent weeks to note down that they must take meter readings today before the energy price cap rises tomorrow.
This is to ensure they are only charged the higher rate for gas and electricity they use after the energy price cap kicks in – not for units used before.
For those with smart meters this should not be an issue, but it may still be worth taking readings. However, those with old fashioned manual reading meters it is an essential move.
Customers attempting to submit readings en masse have sent provider websites crashing but that shouldn’t stop you taking one – a photo with your phone will be time stamped and can be used as proof.
Gareth Kloet, GoCompare’s energy spokesperson says not to panic if you are struggling to submit a meter reading today.
He said: ‘The important thing is to try to take meter readings today or as close to today as possible so that you have a record of the reading and the date you took them.’
He advised you get proof of your readings, such as photo, and take a note of the date you took the reading, and if you don’t have any success today, to try again tomorrow or as soon as practically possible over the next few days.
He added, ‘all of the energy companies will offer a variety of ways in which you can get in touch. These typically include contact methods such as : email, phone, online portals, apps or webchat.
‘When you take your readings and try to report them to your energy company, you’ll typically need to give some form of identification e.g. your name, address, account number (so they can find you in their systems) and obviously the readings you’ve taken and the date you took that reading.
‘They won’t typically ask for proof but if you want to send a photo of the reading, please do, but do keep that photo until you know they have accepted and processed the reading onto your account.
‘If you cannot get onto their website or into their app, an email is a good contact method as it’s quick and efficient.’
What are energy firms and customers saying?
Octopus Energy users have been told to wait to April 2nd to submit readings as they told users to ‘expect a wait’ in a recent tweet.
Ongoing issues appear to be impacting account log-in pages, with Scottish Power for example telling customers they could submit meter reading via an automated telephone line instead.
However, experts have also been warning that phonelines could be overwhelmingly busy, as providers such as EDF encouraged customers to submit their readings online.
Many customers have taken to social media to complain they cannot access their supplier’s website, as one Twitter user @willhargreaves5 said: ‘What a surprise. Can’t submit my meter reading, Shell Energy, you’re a joke.’
@TimDouglasHR said: ‘Is it just me, or has Shell Energy switched off its app to avoid customers reporting their meter readings a day before prices rocket tomorrow?’
While @RadioKate1 added: ‘Just tried to submit my meter readings the day before the new energy price cap comes in and the Eon Next website is down. Can’t login. Not happy.’
Customers rush to submit meter readings as energy providers sites crash due to demand
How do I submit a meter reading on March 31 if my energy provider’s website is down?
Households who can submit their meter readings online should aim to do so, as energy companies are expecting to be overwhelmed with calls from customers trying to submit their readings before 1 April.
A smart meter typically sends automated readings to your energy supplier at specified dates and times, however, your meter may not automatically send a reading on 31 March so it’s worth checking your settings.
If you are still having a problem trying to submit your readings online, you should take photos that clearly show them and the meter serial numbers.
These can then be submitted to your energy provider at a later date, and they should adjust your energy bill accordingly.
British Gas is encouraging customers to use their online form to submit a meter reading if its app is down.
MP Tom Tugendhat tweeted about the technical issues
Why take a meter reading?
March 31, dubbed as National Meter Reading Day, has seen unprecedented demand on energy suppliers as households begin their final energy usage checks.
Around 22million households are expected to be on the new capped gas and electric tariffs, paying over 50 per cent more on their essential bills from tomorrow, with even more price hikes expected in six months’ time.
But, those taking a final meter reading today should be able to get the best, cheaper rates for all energy used right up until the new price cap comes into effect.
Gareth Kloet, GoCompare’s energy spokesman, said: ‘The cost-of-living crisis is hitting everyone – so if there’s a way to shave money off your bills this April, we would urge all bill payers to take both gas and electricity meter readings on 31 March and make sure you submit these to your supplier.
‘And if you pay by direct debit, it might also be a good time to look at revising your monthly payments to take into account the higher rates.’
The imminent price hike was announced by regulatory body Ofgem in February following a huge jump in gas prices last year as the global economy recovered from the pandemic.
Wholesale energy market prices have continued to rise since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine a month ago led to sanctions on companies like Gazprom and declarations by various European governments to reduce their dependence on energy from Russia.
This has driven up the cost of new fixed rate energy deals meaning that many not benefitting from an existing fixed deal are better off just paying the price cap tariff, which is keeping a lid on costs.
There are widespread expectations of another substantial price cap rise in autumn, with the Office of Budget Responsibility suggesting last week that it could rise by 40 per cent.
Hundreds of thousands of families risk falling into poverty because of the surging cost of gas and electricity, which comes amidst the UK inflation rate hitting its highest level in three decades.
Following Ofgem’s announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed a £9billion package of measures that includes a £200 upfront discount on bills in October that must be paid back in instalments of £40 over five years.
Council taxpayers in bands A-D are due a £150 rebate in April, while local authorities will get a £150m boost in funding to support vulnerable people, with the Warm Homes Discount being extended to 3million properties.
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