Some states, like Victoria, are ahead of the curve with mandated upgrades and have already phased out analog electricity metering devices. All electricity meters in Victoria are digital smart meters that can collect more than just the reading of the energy consumption and often connect directly to the provider via the Internet of Things, providing usage data every 30 minutes. Modern contracts that have pricing based on time of day, day of the week and more can be easily facilitated and measured for with devices like this, a single device can record energy consumption along with a timestamp and the rest is worked out by computer calculation. The regular updates significantly reduce the chances for any discrepancy between the value billed for and the energy consumed.
However, Victoria is an outlier. In other states, the energy providers have to have physical access to the customer’s meter to read it. If the providers cannot read the customer’s meter, they provide an estimated bill. With the arrival of more extreme weather events in recent years in both summer and winter, these estimates can diverge from the actual consumption and frustrate the customer when they receive an updated bill with a higher value than expected. To reduce these sudden gaps, some energy providers have the option for customers to read their meter themselves and supply the reading to the provider to update the estimate to the correct value.
Unfortunately, reading analog gas and electricity meters is packed with challenges for the consumer. Even if the customer can identify which meter is theirs (see image below).