Here is a topic that seems to be surrounded by much controversy as of late. If your question is, how to read my meter, or how to read a digital meter, or how to read my smart meter then you have come to the right place. So, how do you read your electric meter? Well, the answer to that question is, it depends. It depends on what kind of electric meter that you have. If you have an electromechanical meter like the one pictured below then it is really easier than you may think. Here is how to read your electric meter. After you learn to read your meter follow this guide on calculating your electric bill.
How to read your meter
To read your electric meter, first you want to start with the furthest dial to the right. This dial moves in a clockwise direction. The next dial moves in a counterclockwise direction, the one after that is clockwise. And the last one on the left moves in a counterclockwise direction. Now if you think of each dial as controlling the dial to the immediate left of it then you really only need to learn how to read the first two dials. So, in the first example you will see that the dial on the far right of the register is on the number 5. The dial next to it is 1. Next is 6 and finally 1.
Simplified, once the dial on the far right makes one complete revolution (ie. it goes all the way around), the dial next to it will go up by 1. Once this dial makes one complete revolution, the dial next to it will go up one. Note that at this point when you read the meter the dial on the far right would have made ten revolutions at this point. Once the third dial makes one complete revolution, the last dial on the far left will go up one. At this point, the dial on the far right will have made one hundred revolutions.
Another important note is that since you are reading the meter from right to left instead of how we normally read numbers from left to right, you will need to write the numbers down from right to left as well.
How to get your monthly reading
So, how does the electric company calculate how much electricity you used during the month? They will use simple subtraction. They will take this month’s reading and subtract from it last month’s reading and voila, they have the number of kilowatt hours that you used during the month.
I also want to make sure that I mention that each time the dial on the right goes up one, that represents one kilowatt hour. When the second dial from the right goes up one it represents 10 kilowatt hours. The next two dials are 100 and then 1000 kilowatt hours.
If you have a solid state meter, it is even easier. You just read the numbers as if you were reading a digital clock. Also, if you have a smart meter then you read it the same way. Now, the next time your neighbor asks you if your know how to read your electric meter, you can say yes!