How to Read Your Electric Meter

Electric Meter photoHave you ever gotten an electric bill that you thought was incorrect? It happens on occasion. Electric meters can malfunction. They are mechanical devices with gears, sprockets, and springs that are susceptible to wear and tear just like any machine with moving parts. External accidents can also cause problems and moving parts can stop working. For instance, in one case, unbeknownst to the homeowner, the glass dome that covers the meter was broken in a hailstorm. One of the broken pieces of glass lodged in the meter and prevented it from moving. The homeowners knew something was wrong when their electric bill was extremely low compared with the previous month. In that case, one look at the electric meter and the problem was obvious.

Electric Meter Basics

But what if it isn’t that obvious? You notice a bill that is too high or too low. So what do you do? You check your meter. Next question…what the heck am I looking at? The electricians at Jeremy Electrical have put together this brief explanation of your electric meter and how to read it in case you need to investigate an unexplained electric bill. Electric power is measured in Watts. One thousand Watts make a kilowatt. If you use one thousand watts of energy in one hour, that is a kilowatt-hour or kWh. As your home draws power from the electrical power lines, the meter starts to spin. The number of revolutions is recorded by the dials on the face of the meter. The more current drawn, the faster the meter spins.

Reading the Dials on Your Electric Meter

First, make sure the meter is moving. If it is not, call your electric company because something is wrong. Many meters today are digital and the numbers are obvious and easy to read. But many homes have older models which have a set of five dials. Reading these electric meters can be a little tricky. Write down the numbers on each dial from right to left. (If the needle is directly on a number, check the dial to the right. If it has already passed 0, use the next higher number). If the dial has not passed 0, use the lower number. If the needle falls between two numbers, use the smaller of the two. Some newer electric meters use digital displays. The difference between one month’s reading and the next is the amount of energy units that have been used for that billing period.

Call the Electric Company for Questions about Your Electric Bill

You will have to compare this month’s numbers to last month’s bill to see what’s going on, but at least you’ll have some knowledge when you speak to the meter reader from the electric company. And don’t worry about your bill. Once they figure out what’s wrong, they usually estimate your bill based on averages from previous months. If you have any questions about your electric bill, it’s best to call the electric company.

If you have any questions about any other electrical items in your home, call us at Jeremy Electrical for electrical safety and convenience at 913-375-0070.