We all expect those monthly electric bills. We check the total, maybe compare it to other months and grumble about having too many lights on, and then succumb to mailing a check. But have you ever looked at the bill? Analyzed how much energy you’ve actually used? What about your electric meter? If you know how to read it correctly, you can track your energy use as often as you’d like. Use of electricity varies from home to home depending on its size, what appliances you use, or how many people are staying there. Maybe you want to see how much electricity you use on a weekday versus a weekend day. If you got a new dishwasher, you might want to see how much electricity the new appliance is using. Even the weather can have an effect on the amount of energy you use.
An electric meter is a device that measures the amount of electricity you use. A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. A kilowatt-hour is the unit that measures the amount of electricity a customer is using. A utility company bill you by the kilowatt hour (kWh).
Most residential electric meters have five dials, but some may have only four. Keep in mind, some of the dials turn clockwise while others turn counterclockwise. Don’t let this confuse you. You’ll read all the dials the same way no matter which way they rotate. All of the dials are numbers from 0 to 9 and will look similar to a clock.
- Stand directly in front of the meter, with the dials at eye level.
- Read the dials from right to left and write the numbers down from right to left.
- If one of the dials is between two numbers, use the smaller of the two.
- If the dial is pointed directly towards a number, look at the dial to the right. If it’s passed zero, use the number the hand is pointing to on the dial you’re reading. If it hasn’t passed zero, use the smaller number on the dial you’re reading. Since the first dial doesn’t have another one to its right, this rule doesn’t apply to dial 1.
- If a dial is between 9 and 0, use 9.