How to Read Your Meter


A quick lesson in meter reading

Electric use varies from household to household, depending upon the size of your home, number and type of appliances and how you use them. Your electric meter keeps track of it all for you. Electric meters record the total amount of electricity used. You can look at your own usage by learning to read your own meter.

Is your meter a confusing object?

It needn't be. Meters are not difficult to read and they can provide you with information about your energy conservation efforts. The explanation in this pamphlet provides you with a quick lesson in meter reading.

Your electric meter measures the amount of electricity you use. Just as you purchase pounds of meat, quarts of milk or gallons of gasoline, you buy kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. One kWh of electricity supplies enough energy to light ten 100-watt lamps for one hour.

Utility representatives use an electronic device to read your meter every month unless it inaccessible due to locked gates, heavy foliage, unrestrained dogs or inclement weather (flooding, etc.). When a meter cannot be read, an estimate is made by computer. Your cooperation in creating a safe working environment for our employees is appreciated and will eliminate the need for an estimated bill. Any difference between the estimate and your actual energy is adjusted automatically on your next billing, provided actual readings are obtained.

How to Read Your Electric Meter

  • Read all the dials from right to left, and write the numbers down from right to left.
  • When the hand on any dial is between two numbers, read the smaller number.
  • If the pointer appears to be exactly on a number, record the next lowest number unless the pointer on the dial to its right has passed zero.

In This Example, the Reading Is 83895


Can You Show Me Step by Step?

  • DIAL 1: The pointer is directly on number 5. Record as 5.
  • DIAL 2: The pointer has just passed 9, and is between 9 and 0. Record as 9.
  • DIAL 3: The next dial has passed 8, and is between 8 and 9. Again, record the smaller number which is 8.
  • DIAL 4: The pointer looks like it is right on the 4 but, the dial to its right has not passed zero. So, you would record this dial as 3.
  • DIAL 5: The pointer is between 8 and 9. Record the smaller number which the pointer just passed, which is 8.

Keep These Hints in Mind

  • Notice that the pointers on the first, third and fifth dial move in the same direction as the hand of a clock. The second and fourth pointers move in the opposite direction.
  • Stand directly in front of the meter so you can clearly see the location of each pointer.
  • Read the numbers from RIGHT to LEFT, and write the numbers down in the same order (from right to left).
  • If the pointer is between two numbers, read the number the pointer has just passed, always the lowest number.
  • If the pointer is between 9 and 0, always read 9.
  • If the pointer appears to be exactly on a number, read the next lowest number
    unless the pointer to its right has passed zero. Since the first dial has no dial to its right, this does not apply to dial 1.

Want to try this out on your meter? Download this information in a pdf brochure.

Electrical safety tips

Electricity always seeks the easiest path to the ground. It tries to find a conductor, such as metal, wet wood, or water. Never touch an energized bare wire or faulty appliance while you are grounded, the electricity will instantly pass through you to the ground, causing a harmful or fatal shock.

When you need to change a fuse or in case of fire or shock, turn off the main switch on your service panel. If you don't have a main switch, turn off all circuit breakers. Remember, do not tamper with the electric meter. You'll risk shock, explosion, or fire.

Children's natural curiosity can lead to electrical accidents. Teach children never to put fingers or objects into an electrical outlet, toaster, or any other appliance, even if it's off. Use plug covers in all your outlets.