30th January 2020
The handover: how we work out your opening meter readings when you switch
Sean Thurgood, Energy specialist
When you switch energy companies, the supplier you’re leaving has to talk to the supplier you’re moving to in order to ‘pass the baton’ of supplying your power. One of the most important parts of the switch is agreeing on your handover meter reading – the identical meter reading that opens your new energy account, and closes your old one.
Here’s how we work out your handover meter reading, and how long you can expect it to take.
The handover process is there to make sure you’ll never pay two different suppliers for any of the same units of power.
We’re agreeing on the exact point when you stop paying your old supplier for energy, and start paying your new supplier instead.
This handover point has to be agreed before your old supplier can close your account, give you a final bill or refund any credit you might be owed. Similarly, your new supplier can’t send you your first bill until they know where to start charging you from.
How long does it take?
This can really vary, but in most cases, it goes a little something like this...
Here’s a full breakdown of the handover process…
This is a best-case scenario, and is the typical timeline for most switching households in the UK. It applies whether you’re joining Octopus or leaving us. In this example, imagine you’re fully switching over to Octopus on January 6th.
Step one: You send an opening meter reading
Five days before the date you fully switch over to us (your ‘Supply Start Date’), we’ll email you asking for an opening meter reading.
From that date, you’ve got 10 days to submit a reading. If you send one any more than five days after your Supply Start Date, we won't be able to use it – we'll agree on an estimated reading instead.
We’ll ask you for readings every month you’re with us, but the first one is the most important. It helps us start your account on the right tentacle, and means your old supplier will create your final bill based on how much energy you'd really used when you officially switched away from them.
Step two: Your readings are independently checked
We send your readings to an independent data collector, who act as a form of quality control. They make sure that the readings we open your account with are the same as the readings your old supplier is closing your account on.
This generally takes around two weeks. As gas and electricity readings have to go through individual processes, it’s not uncommon for the final handover readings for each to come through at different times. More often, gas readings will be verified before electricity readings are, as the checks that gas readings go through are a little quicker. This is really normal, and the electricity reading shouldn't be far behind.
Once the checks are complete, we've got your confirmed handover meter readings!
Step three: your old supplier receives your handover meter readings, and creates your final bill
Once your old supplier gets both handover readings from your new supplier, they’ll charge your account for energy used up to that exact point, and send you your final bill.
As electricity readings take a little longer to get verified, you might see final gas charges added to your old account before final electricity ones.
According to industry regulations, suppliers should give you a final bill within six weeks of leaving them (the majority of Octopus customers get theirs within four weeks). Your supplier can't send you a final bill til your handover meter reading is confirmed.
Step four: you’ll pay your old supplier any final charges, or get any credit refunded to your bank
If you owe your old supplier money after your final charges have been calculated, you’ll be able to make a payment to settle up. If you’ve got any credit on your account after final charges have been tallied up, it will be refunded to you within two weeks of you getting your final bill.
Have a question about your handover meter reading? Here's some of the most common ones, whether you're joining or leaving us.
If there's anything we haven't covered here, just get in touch and we'll help.
I gave you my meter readings within the 10 day window, why are you using a different opening meter reading?
When you provide us with a reading, it has to be checked by an independent data collector and compared to your historic energy consumption information to decide whether or not it looks like it falls in line with where we'd expect your meter reading to be.
- If it does, they'll approve it as your official 'handover' reading, and send it to your old supplier.
- If it doesn't, they'll use data from your old supplier to estimate a read they feel is more in line with your energy consumption history.
I gave you my meter readings outside of the 10 day window (or haven't sent one). What can I do?
If we don't have a real meter reading to use, the data collector will work out a fair estimate for your handover meter reading based on your historic energy consumption.
When this happens, it can take a little longer to create your handover meter reading.
These are really accurate most of the time, as they're based on real historic meter readings, but if your current meter reading looks really different to the estimated handover reading, please get in touch.
What do I do if I want to challenge my handover meter reading?
Generally speaking, the tiny payoff just isn't worth the time it takes to challenge your opening reading.
If your handover reading isn't quite right, you'll be paying your old supplier for a few more units of energy, and your new supplier for a few units less (or vice versa). The money you'll lose out on is simply the difference in our prices for those few extra units of power. Sometimes you'll actually save a bit of money – or lose just a few pennies or pounds.
Industry rules state that we're not even allowed to challenge a handover reading that's less than 250kWh (for electricity – or 150 cubic meters for gas) different from your real meter reading.
If your handover reading is significantly different, we can challenge this and agree on a new handover point with your previous supplier – but this has been known to take weeks, and means there'll be a delay in getting your final bill to you (plus, your new supplier won't be able to start billing you either).
If you'd like to challenge your reading...
All we need for this are two meter readings from you that are at least a week apart. This means that even if you didn’t have the reading when we first took over your supply, we can work out roughly what it should have been.
Just get in touch with these readings and we'll get the ball rolling.
I've had my final gas bill, but not my final electricity bill!
We send both your gas and electricity readings through to the data collector at the same time, however, the gas is usually sorted first. The main reason for this is that the quality checks for gas are a bit more relaxed.
Your electricity reading will come through soon, so it won't be long til you receive your final bill.
I’ve not received my final bill and it’s been over 28 days
Your energy supplier should give you a final bill within six weeks of leaving them (though the majority of customers leaving Octopus get theirs within four weeks).
If you haven't had your final bill yet, don't worry, it's on the way – the handover process can take a little while, particularly if we have to work out an estimate rather than using a real meter reading.
If it's been six weeks since you switched and you haven't had a final bill yet, just get in touch and we'll help.
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