1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

January 3, 2008

:003 Read Your Electric Power Meter

Suggested Review – :001, :002

This week we’re taking stock of our energy and resources profile. Today you will be locating your electric meter and learning how to read the amount of power that is being used.

image of a dial meter

1:5:10:003 Tip: The location of your meter is usually going to be obvious and accessible. If you don’t know where it is you can call your public utility and ask them. Your meter will either be a dial type or a digital. Dial meters are being replaced in many communities by digital because they can be read remotely and do not require a meter reader. With the dial meters you will notice a wheel spinning. The faster the wheel spins, the more power that is being consumed. The dial type meters can be a little tricky to read. So I will go into more details as Additional information. In addition to writing down the current amount of power use, you could also snap a digital photograph of the meter showing the dial positions.

That’s my 1:5:10 minute for day three. Tomorrow we will be using your electric meter to learn how to detect hidden electric use that wastes significant amounts of power and needlessly cost money.


Additional Information

The Tennessee Valley Authority has an excellent web-site that teaches how to read ones meter. I’ve reprinted that information below. It came from the following site:


Reading that Mysterious Meter
on the Side of Your House

Reading your electric meter is a good way to know how much you’re spending on electricity.

Electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours. As sort of a quick reference, a 100 watt light bulb burning for 10 hours uses one kilowatt-hour. Electric meters keep track of how many kilowatt-hours you’ve used. There are two kinds of electric meters, digital and dial. Both are pretty easy to read and understand once you get the hang of it.

image of a digital meter

The Digital Meter.

Ready for this? All you have to do is read the meter like the mileage odometer in your car. What could be easier? Every time the number increases, that’s another kilowatt-hour used. Simple.

image of a dial meter

      The Dial Meter.

This is the tricky one. On a dial meter, there are five dials, numbered 0 through 9, with the 0 at the top. Look closely and you’ll see that the numbers go around the face clockwise on some of the dials, but counterclockwise on every other dial.

The hands of the dials move in the same direction as the counting order of the numbers. To read the meter, just write down the number that each hand has just passed. Start with the dial on the far left, and proceed to the right.

image of dials on a dial meter
The reading is 66,649.

If a hand is directly on a number, look at the dial to its immediate right. If that hand has passed zero, write down the number that the left hand is pointing to.

image of dials on a dial meter

The reading here is 70.If the hand on the right has not passed zero, write down the last number that the left hand has passed.

image of dials on a dial meter

Here, the reading is 69.

So, now what?

Once you know how to read your meter, it’s easy to figure out how much electricity you’ve used since your last electric bill. Simply look at last month’s electric bill to find the reading recorded by your local power company. Then, subtract last month’s reading from the number you just took off your meter. What you end up with is the total number of kilowatt-hours you’ve used since your last reading. 


1:5:10:003 Journal Entry – Read Your Electric Power Meter

Time Spent – 1:5:10 (example)     

Comments: Record your meter reading.


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