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A quick and cost-effective way to reduce Ofwat penalties for long unread meters

June 2022 

A quick and cost-effective way to reduce Ofwat penalties for long unread meters

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Around 15% of water meters in this country are classed as long unread meters (LUM). This is due to a combination of factors, including meters' whereabouts being unknown, their locations making meters difficult or dangerous to read, meters being submerged in water or mud in deep chambers, and damaged or broken meters. Because Ofwat penalises water wholesalers for every LUM, such meters represent a significant overhead. Furthermore, customers dislike estimated bills, and wholesalers and retailers lose revenue if consumption is underestimated.

There is no denying that damaged or broken meters need to be repaired or replaced, and meters whose locations are unknown must be found. Nevertheless, there are tens of thousands of water meters in the non-household and household sectors that could be retrofitted with ‘smart' technology, slashing the number that are long unread.

Deer Technology's quick and cost-effective solution to this problem is to retrofit analogue water meters with compactLimpetReaderdevices connected toAutoReadertransmitters. The AutoReaders communicate with the company's secure servers using2G/4G/5G (NB-IoT / CAT-M1).

A LimpetReader is bonded to a meter's faceplate and takes digital photographs of the register. The date- and time-stamped image files are processed on the server so as to convert them into meter readings. Once the LimpetReader is installed, which takes 15 minutes or less, there should be no need to revisit the meter. Furthermore, the LimpetReader continues to operate even if the meter is submerged in water or mud. Consequently, the LimpetReader offers a practical way to provide readings from meters that are currently unread because their location makes them difficult or dangerous to read, or that are submerged.

The system has been developed in the UK and benefits from patented technology. It features robust and reliable hardware, enabling water wholesalers to obtain accurate, timely meter readings for billing customers or passing to retailers. There is no reliance on the meter's pulsed output; instead, the system uses images of the register and is therefore equivalent to taking manual readings. This offers a major advantage over automated meter reading (AMR) systems that suffer from drift and therefore require periodic readings to be taken manually. Traditional AMR systems do not solve the LUM problem.

Whether the LimpetReader is bonded to the faceplate directly or via a clear adapter plate, the register remains visible in case it ever needs to be read manually. Thanks to the range of adapter plates available, LimpetReaders are compatible with all types of analogue water meter encountered in the UK. Furthermore, there is no need to dismantle the meter or interrupt the supply when installing a LimpetReader.

Without accurate, timely meter readings, it is simply impossible for water wholesalers to provide the requisite standard of service to customers and retailers. Indeed,Emma Kelso, Senior Director at Ofwat, said earlier last year in a report of findings on water company billing inaccuracies: "Data quality is vital to a successful business retail market and the benefits that it can bring for customers. Water companies and retailers have legal obligations they must fulfil in ensuring the data they are responsible for is complete and accurate."

She added: "The importance and value of data is growing, and company boards must have a strong focus on this when providing their assurances that they are able to effectively provide their regulated services."

Find out more about Deer Technology's LimpetReader for remote meter reading at, telephone 01639 363146 or


With Compliments:           
Taylor Alden
7 Bell Yard
WC2A 2JR                       
Tel: 020 3137 9041