If you’ve never owned or rented a home where you were responsible for reading your electrical meter, it may be a bit confusing. Since the amount you will be charged on your next electrical bill is determined based off the reading you send in, it is important that you record the right numbers. Incorrect numbers mean a much higher bill to pay. This could wreak havoc on your budget for the month, if you’re not prepared for it.
- What your meter measures. Your electrical meter measures the number of kilowatt hours used by your household since the meter was installed. That is the electricity that flows into your light sockets, your outlets and the items connected to them, as well as, your heating and cooling equipment.
- What the numbers mean. A 100 watt light bulb burning steadily for 10 hours uses one kilowatt hour. Since your electric company charges you according to the number of kilowatt hours you use each month, these numbers are what will determine how much you pay on your electrical bill the following month.
- Where to find your meter. Your electrical meter may be located on the exterior of your home, or it may be located on an electrical pole near your home, in some rural areas. Some homes may have more than one electrical meter. If that is the case, you will need to provide the readings from all your home’s meters. When there are two meters for one home, one meter may be for off-peak services, which is billed at a different rate than the rest of your electrical services.
- Different types of meters. Electrical meters come in two different types: dial and digital. The digital meter will have a row of numbers similar to your odometer in your car. The dial type meter will have a series of small dials that are each numbered from 0 to 9.
- Reading meters with dials. If your meter has dials, you will notice that each dial runs in an opposite direction. One will run clockwise and the next counterclockwise. You will need to record the number that the needle has just passed on each dial, from left to right, to determine your meter reading.
- What number is it pointing to? Sometimes it can be difficult to tell which number you are to record on the dials when it appears that the needle is sitting directly on a number. The key to that is to look to the dial to the right. If the needle on the dial to the right has passed zero, then right down the number the needle is pointing to on the left hand dial. If it the needle on the dial to the right has NOT passed zero, then use the previous number on the left hand dial. You can find a good illustration of this at Energyright.com.
- Reading digital meters. These meters are very easy to read. Simply read the numbers across the dial from left to right to determine the current reading.
- Writing it down. Don’t trust your memory to carry the numbers back into the house correctly. Take a piece of paper and a pen or pencil with you to read the meter. Or you might want to take the utility bill itself out with you to record the reading.
- Where to find last month’s reading. Since the reading on the meter is a cumulative number, showing the total kilowatt hours used in your household since the meter was installed, you may want to compare it to last month’s reading. You will find the last month’s meter reading on your current utility bill.
- Calculating your monthly usage. To determine the amount of kilowatt hours of electricity that you used in your household since the last meter reading, simply subtract last month’s reading, that you found on your utility bill, from the current reading. This will show the amount of kilowatt hours used in the month. You may multiply this by the kilowatt hourly rate that you see on your bill to calculate an approximate amount that you will be billed on your next month’s billing.
If you are uncertain at all about reading your meter, your utility company’s customer service will generally be more than willing to assist you in the process.