The Unicom guide to meter reads

The Unicom guide to meter reads

We understand that when running a business, you already have 101 things to think about (it’s one of the reasons we created our unique one bill solution) so we realise that reading your utility meters is likely to be low down on your ‘To-Do’ list.  

However, this simple task, which only takes a few minutes, is vital to make sure you receive accurate bills for your usage so you can manage cashflow. Whether, you have Business WaterGas, or Green Electricity we have put together a quick and easy guide that will help you with those all important meter reads.  

Why should I read my meter? 

We need meter reads to accurately bill you for your Unicom Utilities. When we receive your meter read, we use this to calculate your usage for the month. (You can check this out in more detail in our Understanding your One Bill blog.) 

If we don’t have your meter readings we’ll estimate your usage. This can sometimes mean that you may end up paying too much or too little. 

So, the more meter reads you provide, the more confident you can be that your bills are accurate. We highly recommend that you submit reads to us on the last working day of every month.  

The good news is, that whenever you submit an accurate meter read your invoice will be amended accordingly in the next billing cycle, so you will always end up paying for the services you’ve used! 

How do I read my meter? 

Meter reads…as easy as A, B, C.  

Business meters are no different to household meters and are just as simple to read. Whilst there are a variety of meter types available, the golden rule to remember is: we don’t need any numbers in red or after a decimal place. 

We’ve put below a guide for the different meter types and how you can read them.  

Electricity Meters

Electricity meters come in various models, and we’ve got a guide on them all to help you provide us with your Business Electricity usage.  


Digital – No button  

This is the easiest meter to read, all you need to do is read the numbers on the display before the decimal point from left to right. Nice and simple. 

For example, the meter read above is 122. 


Digital – With button 

Digital meters with buttons can vary. Again, once the meter read is displayed you’ll be reading it from left to right.  


  • Ampy: press the blue button to display the readings. These are the last 6 digits on the right! 

The meter reading here is 302711. 

  • Elster: press the orange button on right hand side to cycle through the display and keep pressing the button until you’ve read all of the display. 

The meter read above is 453988. 

  • Calmu (black meter): press the yellow button to cycle through the display, the left screen shows the reading information we need. 

The reading is: 655432. 

  • PRI Sprint Meters: Press the turquoise blue button on right hand side to display read. 

The reading is: 453988.


Handy hint: If your digital electric meter has two readings, these are read in the same way from left to right and ignoring any numbers after the decimal point or in red. We will need both to calculate your usage. 


Mechanical dials 

  1. Mechanical dials are read from left to right. The numbers underneath the dials represent their place value. So always start the read with the highest number underneath the dial and work all the way down to the lowest.  
  2. Any dials in red should be ignored.  
  3. Please be aware that some dials move in a clockwise direction and others anti-clockwise. 
  4. If the pointer is between two figures, always read the lowest of the 2 numbers. For example, if the pointer is between 4 and 5, the number you read is 4 (because your usage hasn’t reached 5 yet!) 
  5. When the pointer is directly on a number, for example 8, pay attention to the next dial to the right. If that dial on the right is between 9 and 0, you read 7 for the initial dial. If the dial on the right is between 0 and 1, you read 8 for the initial dial. 

Let’s look at some examples: 

  • 5 Dial clock meters –  

Meter read with last digit showing 1/10 – Ignore dial with 1/10 that is usually in red. 

Digit showing 0.1 – Ignore dial with 0.1 that is usually in red. 

Meter read is: 94694. 

  • 6 Dial clock meters –  

These work in exactly the same way as the above, just with an extra place value. Start your reading from the highest number above the dial and work your way towards the lowest.

Meter read is: 113489.


Mechanical Cyclonical Dials 

To read these meters you simply write down the figures that are displayed starting from left to right. The digits for your reading will be in the black boxes and separated by the decimal and red box. 

Here’s a 5-dial example: 

Meter read is: 7712. 

And a 6-dial example: 

Meter read is: 13426.

Gas Meter

The way to read a gas meter is similar to electric. They are all easy and quick to read! 



Digital gas meters are either imperial or metric.  

  • Imperial – An Imperial gas meters has four main numbers. To read it, you should start off by reading the first four digits from left to right and don’t include any numbers in red.  

Meter read is: 7712. 

  • Metric – A metric gas meter has five numbers. To read it, you should take note of the first five numbers from left to right and don’t include anything after a space or decimal point. 

Meter read is: 18024 

Handy hint: If your digital gas meter has two readings, these are read in the same way from left to right and ignoring any numbers after the decimal point or in red. We will need both to calculate your usage.  


Dial gas meters 

When taking a dial gas meter reading, there are a few rules to remember to make it easier for you: 

  1. Ignore any red dials, ones marked ‘100 per rev’ and large dials  
  2. Start off by taking the reading from left to right 
  3. In the case that the pointer is between two figures, remember to take the lower number. If it’s between 9 and 0, record 9. If the pointer is directly on a number, check the next dial to the right. If that dial reads 8 or 9, then lower the reading for the dial on its left by one.  

Meter read is: 0140 


Cyclonic gas meters 

To read these meters you simply note down the figures that are displayed in the black box and don’t take the readings in the red box. 

Meter read is: 231. 

Water Meters

Your water meter is a little different to your electric and gas meters, the dial still records your current usage so taking your meter reading for water is important. 


If your meter is an older style, you’ll have black digits on the left and red on the right. For your meter reading, you only need to take note of the black numbers. Start reading the numbers in black from left to right as they show the number of cubic metres used. (Whereas the numbers in red only show the litres used.) 

Meter read is: 13. 



Automated Meter Reading (AMR) meters have inbuilt technology to collect data from the meter and provide it directly to us so you don’t have to. But, you can use the data to monitor consumption and make savings. 

Meter read is: 22. 

Keeping an eye on your meter readings can help you monitor your usage. By regularly providing us with meter reads, you will always have an accurate bill which can help with your business cashflow. The easiest way to give us your meter reads is through your Customer Zone (try to do this by the last working day of each month). You can also send us an email to with your meter read or call our customer services team on 0161 946 4444. 

Save water, save money in your business

Save water, save money in your business

Summer is almost here and with the rise in temperatures there is a risk that your water usage may also rise. Looking at how your business can save water during the summer months and continuing the good practice all year long is not only environmentally friendly – it will also save your business money. Unsure of where to start? As a leading Business Water provider, Unicom is here to help. We’ve put together some simple ways to get you started to save water and save money for your business.

Install water-efficient equipment

Your business might be much more water-intensive than you think. By installing water-efficient equipment you can minimise the amount of water your business uses every day. Take your taps as a starting point, you can purchase lever or mixer taps that will easily reach your desired temperature without wasting a drop. You could also invest in tap aerators which mix water with air to significantly reduce the amount of water used by as much as 50%.

Another place to consider is your toilet. For example, dual-flush toilets which offer a choice of how much water is used are crucial to decrease water consumption. Urinals can use a lot of water depending on how many times a day they’re being flushed. If your business is open 40 hours a week, up to 75% of the flushing happens when there’s no one there. You could save up to 60% of your business water charges by fitting urinal controls and avoiding out-of-hours flushing.

Review your water usage

When was the last time you reviewed your water usage? As a busy business owner, chances are you simply do not have the time. That’s where a water audit can come in handy. A third-party can carry out an analysis of your water usage and suggest areas where efficiencies (and savings) could be made. It’s also great for spotting any unknown leaks.

Water audits may not be suitable for every business, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t carry out your own review. A handy DIY check is to put a few drops of food colouring or even a dye tablet into your toilet tank. Then keep a look out for any colour in the bowl as this is a sign that your tank could be wasting up to 100 gallons of water a day. Remember to regularly check your taps for any drips. A dripping tap can waste up to 90 litres of water every single week.

Utiilse more of your water

It’s time to get creative – rather than watching water (and your money) go down the drain, think of other ways you can utilise it. Waiting for the tap to warm up or cool down? Try collecting the water in the sink and then use it for cleaning, watering office plants or even try storing it in the fridge for drinking (ideal for the summer months!)

Think about investing in a water butt to collect rainwater that falls onto your roof so that you can use it to water your office garden, crops and plants or even for car washes.

Not the owner of the building? Discuss ideas with your landlord to see how you can work together towards your sustainability goals.

Promote your water efficiency plans

You can’t achieve this water saving mission alone, so you’ll need all your colleagues to be on board. Consider running water saving initiatives starting with a promotional launch communicating the benefits to the business and the environment of becoming more water efficient.

Unicom is also here to help as your water provider. Ensure that you send us regular meter reads so that we can bill you for your actual usage, rather than an estimate of your usage. You’ll be able to compare your water consumption month-on-month by logging on to your Customer Zone to access your previous invoices online, or referring to your paper copy if you receive one. Track the progress and keep everyone updated and involved.

You’ll need to make sure that your water savings plan is not only in place but that it is followed through with continual promotion.

Green Electricity from Unicom

Green electricity from Unicom for your business

Unicom is pleased to introduce green electricity for your business. 

As of 1st September 2018, all our electricity comes from 100%** renewable sources. This makes our electricity green and clean!

So why has Unicom gone green?

The move to green electricity was a simple decision for us, we want to do our part in promoting a sustainable environment and protecting the planet.

We also want to do our part for you, our valued customers. We are doing this by offering our customers green electricity at no extra cost so the benefits of green electricity are passed on to you, your business and, in turn, your customers.

And what does this mean for Unicom customers?

Unicom electricity customers will be switched to green automatically*, so you’ll start reducing your carbon footprint straight away.

We’ve actually calculated that a typical Unicom customer will save 4.57 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year. This is the same as planting 2285 trees every single year***. As Unicom works with over 40,000 small businesses, that’s the equivalent of over 91 million trees a year.

Not a Unicom electricity customer?

Don’t worry, you can make the switch today. Simply give us a call on 0161 241 0377 or submit your details here:  


* This applies to all customers (excluding SSE customers) from 1st September 2018. Customers supplied by SSE will be able to go green at the point of renewal.
** Unicom will endeavour to remain a 100% green electricity supplier. However, due to an unpredictable future and a fast-changing renewable world, we reserve the right to change our fuel mix at any time
*** Based on an annual average consumption of 13,000 kWh, calculated using and Forestry Commission report$FILE/6_planting_more_trees.pdf

Hosepipe ban announced in the North West

Hosepipe ban announced in the North West


The work United Utilities has been doing to conserve water supplies and abstract water from other sources, combined with the help from customers in reducing their own usage, as well as the recent rainfall and slightly cooler temperatures means they are now in a position to call off the hosepipe ban planned for this weekend.

This decision has been taken in the context of the improved position in our water resources and not wanting to inconvenience customers for a moment longer than is necessary. However, the long range forecast from the Met Office is one of relatively dry weather into the autumn, so future restrictions are still a possibility if more rain doesn’t arrive and if there is a significant increase in demand.

They are continuing to step up our response with our leakage teams working 24 hours a day to find and repair as many leaks as possible. The operational teams are out and about much more than usual making interventions such as installing new pumping stations, pumping between reservoirs, bringing ground water sources into use and prioritising maintenance to help ensure supplies are not interrupted during this prolonged dry spell.

As you would expect, all water companies are working closely with the Environment Agency in monitoring the situation to ensure there is enough water in supply right across the region while balancing the needs of customers and the impact on water sources and the local environment. We are still urging customers to help by using water wisely where they can.

The UK is experiencing what is thought to be the longest heatwave since 1976.

Whilst many have been enjoying the high temperatures, the good weather has meant that we have had around half the amount of rainfall we’d expect to see between May and June, with dry conditions challenging water resources. A lack of rainfall to replenish the stocks and storage means that reservoir levels are low.  

As a result of this, United Utilities have announced a planned hosepipe ban for the North West – this will be in place from 8am on the 5th August 2018.

To help our customers get ready for the ban, Unicom have put together the key things you need to know.

What is a hosepipe ban?

A hosepipe ban allows water companies to temporarily restrict a range of water uses by customers during drought conditions.

Hosepipe bans primarily target domestic customers but also place restrictions on some non-essential use by business customers.

Who will be affected by the hosepipe ban?

The ban will apply to customers who get their water supply from United Utilities, with the exception of customers in Carlisle and the north Eden Valley where supplies remain at reasonable levels.  To see if your area is affected, please use the address checker: 

Why is a hosepipe ban necessary? 

As we’ve already mentioned, the high temperatures and lack of rainfall mean that water is in short supply. So, how will a hosepipe ban help this situation?  

  • A hosepipe uses 540 litres an hour, as much as a family of four would use in one day. 
  • A sprinkler left running overnight uses as much water as a family of four would use in one week. 
  • A hosepipe ban can reduce water usage by 5-10 per cent (according to research by United Kingdom Water Industry Research). In the North West this would amount to over 100 million litres per day. 

The hosepipe ban will ensure everyone has water for their essential needs, like keeping hydrated and showering. 

How long will the ban last?  

The ban will need to be in place until there is significant rainfall and reservoir levels return to normal. Unfortunately, nobody can predict the weather but United Utilities will not have the ban in place any longer than is absolutely necessary.  

What does the ban mean for my business? 

As a business, you will be allowed to use a hosepipe if this is directly related to the use of water for your commercial purposes. There are restrictions on you using a hosepipe if not for those essential needs – so using a hosepipe to clean a path outside your business property, for example, would be covered by the ban. More specific examples can be found on United Utilities here 

What action will be taken if I do use a hosepipe? 

United Utilities have the ability to enforce the ban but are mainly asking for your support in saving water during this period of low resources. Failure to respect it could result in a £1,000 fine.  

What do I do if I think I’m exempt from the ban?  

If you think you should be exempt from the ban you need to either write to United Utilities at or phone them on 0800 107 8861. Any applications for exemptions must be received by 17:00 on 4th August 2018. 

Want to know more? 

For more information on the ban, how to save water and a full list of FAQs please visit 

Even as a business water customer outside of the United Utilities region, cutting down on your water usage during these high temperatures will be really beneficial to all water supplies. Look out for some more tips on saving water in your business coming soon. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our money saving tips for water here.

Top 10 tips to save money on your water this Summer

Top 10 tips to save money on your water this Summer

The weather is heating up, water shortages are being announced across the country. Check out the top 10 tips to save you money on your water usage this Summer:

• Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth
• Keep a jug of water in the fridge so you don’t have to run your tap cold
• Use a bowl for washing up / rinsing fruit and veg – then use this water for plants
• Have a shower instead of a bath
• Only use your dishwasher or washing machine when you have a full load (this will save money on your energy bills too)
• Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need (this will save energy too)
• Fix leaking taps and toilets
• Use a watering can instead of a hose in the garden
• If your garden needs watering, do so early morning or evening to reduce evaporation
• Use a bucket and sponge instead of a hose to clean your car (or leave it for another week – it’s only going to get dusty!)

Important information about Birmingham Resilience

Important information about Birmingham Resilience

Important information about your Severn Trent water supply. Please read carefully. If your business carries out processes which rely on specific water chemistry, you may need to take action.

  • What is happening?
    Your water is currently sourced by Severn Trent from the Elan Valley in Wales and is transported to Birmingham via the Elan Valley Aqueduct (EVA). The EVA was built by the Victorians and after a century of use requires increased maintenance to keep it in service. To enable Severn Trent engineers to get inside the aqueduct and carry out repairs, in the future the EVA is to be taken out of action for up to eight weeks once a year.
  • Whilst repairs are carried out to the aqueduct your water will be sourced from other parts of the Severn Trent region. This change of source will result in a change in the chemical composition of your water. Whilst the water composition will change it will remain within regulatory water quality requirements.
  • Do you need to take action?
    If your business carries out processes sensitive to water chemistry (e.g. heating, cooling, softening, and chemical dosing) or your business practices legionella control management you may need to make changes/adjustments to systems or procedures to prepare for this temporary change.
    Due to the complex range of water use within industrial and manufacturing processes Severn Trent cannot advise if specific processes will be affected. If you have concerns you are advised to contact your equipment manufacturer. For full details of the water composition range visit the Severn Trent website and see the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
    If your business uses water for domestic purposes only i.e. kitchens and toilets, you can continue with normal water use.


A change in supply will take place from 12th October for up to four weeks, during which the water composition will be different. Dates for future planned changes to supply will be available on the Severn Trent website up to three months in advance.


Changes in supply will take place from March 2020 for a duration of up to eight weeks, during this period the water composition will be different. Dates for changes to supply will be available on the Severn Trent website up to three months in advance.