Learning to read your meter is a simple way to help reduce your energy bill. This guide applies to digital, smart, and traditional dial meters.
If your meter has dials, read them from right to left and record the numbers as you see them. If the pointer rests directly on a number, look at the dial to its right to determine if it has passed zero.
A traditional electric meter has a series of dials that move as electricity flows through the meter. These dials track your energy usage in kilowatt-hours (KWH). Some meters also use dials to read natural gas, which utility companies measure by cubic feet (MCF) or 100 cubic feet (CCF).
If you have a dial meter, take a pencil and paper and stand directly in front of it at eye level. Draw a circle on your paper to represent each of the five dials on the meter. Please write down the numbers on each circle as they appear, starting with the dial furthest to the right and working your way around.
Note that the dials are clockwise, so when the pointer appears to be between two numbers, read the lower number unless it is between 9 and 0, in which case you would read the 9. If a dial’s pointer lands directly on a number, look at the dial next to it to ensure the arrow has passed that number; if it has not, record the following lowest number. Some meters have a ‘day rate’ and a ‘night rate,’ so you must note both. If you have a digital meter, observe the digits on the display and write them down from left to right.
Some meters display in digits, like your car’s odometer. Learning how to read your meter is easy. But others use dials, and those can be more difficult to read.
A mechanical meter has four or five clock-like dials with pointers that indicate a number. Each of those numbers represents a kilowatt hour of energy usage. Start with the dial on the left and record the numbers that pass over the pointers. If the pointer is between two numbers, consistently record the lower number.
Most meter problems are the result of vandalism or tampering. The protective glass cover or seals or a defective sensor may be broken. It is also possible that the meter has been displaced or moved from its normal position. These problems can be corrected with a simple calibration procedure using the three midpoints in the image.
Computer vision-based automatic meter reading systems are being used to replace manual inspections by a meter reader or customer service representative. But these systems must be able to correct image skew and distortion caused by the meter’s surface, illumination, and angle of view. This algorithm identifies a critical point in the meter image. It uses the midpoints of the scale lines to compute a transformation matrix for transforming the image to its correct orientation.
While the dials on an electric meter look complicated, they are easy to read. Each of the five dials on an electric meter represents one of the digits in your electricity usage, indicating how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you have used since the meter was installed. The first two dials represent tens, then hundreds, and finally ones. The hand on the left-most dial moves clockwise, just like a clock. The hand on the next dial moves in the opposite direction. The third and fourth dials move the same way as the first, while the hand on the far right dial moves in a different direction.
For example, if the hand on the third dial points between four and nine, record the number of the four. Suppose the hand is directly on a number; record that number.
If your meter has digital numbers, ignore the date and time display and use only the kWh dials. Write down the meter numbers from left to right and subtract your start-of-period reading from your end-of-period reading to find out how many kWh you used. Submit your meter numbers each month to the power company. To make it easier for meter readers to access your meter, please keep the area around your meter clear and remove any shrubs or boxes that might block the meter.
The amount of electricity you use is shown on your meter in kilowatt-hours (KWH), just like a car’s odometer records the total number of miles you’ve driven. The meter is designed with round dials and pointers that advance when electric current flows through the meter. You can read your meter by standing directly before it, looking at each dial, and noting the number the pointer passes over.
Start with the dial on the far right to read a five-dial electric meter. Record each number as the pointer moves over it, moving from right to left – ignore any numbers that appear in red or have 1/10 next to them. If the pointer seems to rest directly on a number, look at the dial to its right to see if it has passed over zero. If it hasn’t, you will record the higher number as your meter reading.
Some meters have digital displays, which can be more complex to read. However, most electric and gas meters with digital displays are quite easy to read.