THOUSANDS of households should urgently take meter readings before energy bills rise on January 1.
The simple check will help save you money on your energy bills by ensuring that you won't be overcharged.
Emily Seymour, Which? energy editor, said: "A small number of customers face paying slightly higher energy rates in the New Year.
"If you've been notified of a price increase and have a tariff that requires meter readings, you might want to submit one before January 1 to ensure you're billed accurately."
In October, the government introduced a discount on bills dubbed the energy price guarantee.
This caps the unit rates for gas and electricity and ensures that average households on dual-fuel tariffs don't pay more than £2,500 a year.
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But the energy price guarantee is only a cap on unit rates – so if you use more energy expect to pay more than the average household.
Ofgem also sets an energy price cap on what suppliers can charge based on wholesale prices – and an updated cap will take force on January 1.
And this means that the discount on bills provided by the energy price guarantee will change slightly from this date – pushing up costs for thousands who pay on receipt of bills or rely on economy 7 tariffs.
Some households will be £150 worse off over the course of a year.
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But the majority will face smaller rises – equating to a few extra pennies each month.
Those who pay for their energy by direct debit won't see any changes to their unit rates.
But it is still vital that you get ready to tell your energy firm your gas and electricity meter readings before January.
This will reduce your risk of being overcharged when bills are hiked.
A spokesperson for Uswitch said: "It is worth submitting your meter readings on or before December 31.
"This will ensure your bills are accurate, and that all your recent energy use is calculated using the old rates rather than the new January charges."
This advice only applies to customers on standard non-smart meters.
Customers with a smart meter don't need to note down their energy usage as their meter readings are automatically sent to their supplier at regular intervals.
Millions of households will see their bills rise more substantially in April when the energy price guarantee is set to rise to £3,000 a year and it's worth keeping this date in mind for future meter readings.
We've explained how to take a gas and electricity meter reading below.
How do I take a meter reading?
If you don't have a smart meter, your energy supplier will usually require regular readings from your gas and electricity meter to work out how much you should be charged.
Customers that don't send their suppliers regular readings will have their bills calculated by estimated usage and they will likely pay more – so it is always worth knowing how to send the numbers.
Once you've taken a reading, you should be able to submit it a number of ways including text message or phone.
You might also be able to submit it online or through your supplier's app.
It's best to check with your supplier to see what your options are.
It's always worth taking a picture of your meter reading when you submit it to your supplier – just in case you need it as evidence for a future dispute.
The way you take a meter reading depends on what type of meter you have – we've explained how to take a reading depending on your meter type.
If you have a digital electricity meter, you will just see a row of six numbers – five in black and one in red.
Take down the five numbers in black and ignore the red number.
If you are on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff which gives you cheaper electricity at night – you will have two rows of numbers, so take both readings down.
If you have a traditional dial meter you will need to read the first five dials from left to right ignoring any red ones.
If the pointer is between two numbers, write down the lower figures and if it is between nine and zero write down the number nine.
If the dial is directly over a number, write down that number and underline it.
If you’ve underlined a number, check the next dial to the right. If the pointer on that dial is between 9 and 0, reduce the number you’ve underlined by 1.
For example, if you originally wrote down 5, change it to 4.
If you have a digital metric meter showing five numbers and then a decimal place, you only need to write down the first five numbers from left to right.
If you have a digital imperial meter your meter will read four black numbers and two red numbers – note down the four black numbers only.
If you have a dial gas meter follow the same steps for those with a dial electricity meter but ignore underlining any figures.
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