Your electricity meter measures the amount of electricity you use in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Reading your meter often, along with careful observation of the weather and the appliances you use, can help you manage energy consumption and evaluate the effectiveness of your appliances. By noting high-consumption activities, such as air conditioning in the summer, you’ll be able to determine where your energy dollars are going. It’s also the best way to know exactly how much electricity you’re using—and how much your energy-saving measures are reducing your electricity usage.
There are two types of electricity meters: dial and digital. With a little practice, both are fairly easy to read and understand.
Digital Meters: With digital meters, all you have to do is read the meter like the mileage odometer in your car. Every time the number increases, that's another kilowatt-hour used.
Dial Meters: Each dial on this meter represents one digit in the total number of kilowatt-hours you've used since the last time your meter was read. Most meters have five dials with 10 numbers and a pointer that turns when electricity is being used. Look closely, and you'll see that the numbers go around the face clockwise on some of the dials, and counter-clockwise on every other dial.
How to Read your Meter
Read the dials starting with the meter on the far right and ending with the far left, writing down the numbers in the same order. Write down the number that each hand has just passed. Remember that some dials have counterclockwise numbers and every other meter has clockwise numbers.
If a hand is directly on a number, look at the dial to its immediate right. If that hand has just passed zero, write down the number that the left meter is pointing to. If that hand has not passed zero, write down the last number that the meter on the left has passed.
Making Sense of Your Meter Reading
Once you’ve learned how to read your meter, it's easy to figure out how much electricity you've used since your last electric bill.
Look at last month’s electric bill to find the recorded reading.
Subtract last month's reading from the number you just took off your meter.
The result is the total number of kilowatt-hours you've used since your last reading.
Total Days Between Readings May Vary
Your meter is read once a month. Because of weekends, holidays or the length of the month, the total days between each meter reading may vary. This is why it’s possible for your monthly usage to increase or decrease from the previous billing period even though your average daily use remains the same.
If you think the estimated meter reading on your bill may be higher than your actual usage, you can perform a self-reading of your meter by following the “How to Read Your Meter” instructions above, then send us the results through our online tool