Your electric meter measures the amount of electricity you use in a kilowatt-hour (kWh). One kWh is equal to using 1,000 watts of electricity for 1 hour. Your monthly electric bill is based on a number of kWh you use.
The examples above shows the dials on a five-dial meter. (Most meters have five dials; some have four.) To read the meter, begin with the right-hand dial (e) and record numbers right-left (e-a).
The pointers of the dials move in the direction of the arrows. When a pointer is between two numbers (as in dial “d”), write down the lower number, the number the pointer has gone past. If the pointer is on a number, look at the dial to the right of it. If the pointer has not passed 0, record the smaller number. If the pointer on the dial to the right has passed 0, record the number closest to the left pointer. The example above would be read as 73256.
Use your meter for troubleshooting
If your electric usage has increased and you have been unable to justify the increase with any changes in the weather or in your normal living routine, try the following steps to help locate the electric circuits with the greatest energy draw:
Step 1: Go to your electric meter to determine how fast the disc is spinning. The disc only turns if the electricity is being used. The faster the disc rotates, the more electricity is being consumed.
Step 2: At the main electrical box or breaker in your home, turn off breakers one-by-one. After each circuit breaker is disconnected, go back to the electric meter and see if the disc has reduced its speed.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2 until the disc rotation slows dramatically. Go back to the electrical panel and determine what circuit breaker and appliance is responsible for the large electric use.
A fast spinning meter disc could come from several common sources. As you search for the cause of unusually high electric consumption in your home, check for the following red flags:
- A faulty thermostat on a baseboard heater or portable space heater.
- A refrigerator or freezer located in your garage or outdoor shed.
- A Well pump that runs continuously.
- The frequent operation of the backup heat on your heat pump.
Remember, if you need assistance in locating the source of high electric use, contact MEC.
Now, if you read this meter at the same time tomorrow, subtract today’s “reading” from tomorrow’s “reading” to determine the number of kilowatt-hours used in one day.
To calculate the cost of the energy use, multiply the number of kilowatt-hours by the cost per kilowatt-hour charged by your energy supplier.
Reading your meter will help you become more aware of overall energy consumption, and being aware is the first step to making wise decisions.