Everything to Know About Your Electric Meter

Reading your electric meterHave you ever wondered exactly how your utility company calculates your bill each month?

Put simply, they use an electric meter. Service lines from your utility company connect to your home or building’s service head, which then connects to your electric meter. This meter measures the amount of electric energy consumed per billing unit (1).

It might sound a little complicated, but we’re here to break it down for you.

Dial Meters vs. Digital Meters

There are two main types of electric meters: dial meters and digital meters. Dial meters display six separate dials, but only the first five of those dials are significant.

Although slightly more difficult to read, these types of meters are more common. Digital meters, on the other hand, have a digital numerical display.

How to Read Your Electric Meter (And Why You Should)

To read a dial electric meter, you must follow a few different steps. Although some dialed meters only display the first five dials, if you have a meter that displays six, only pay attention to the first five.
As you may have guessed, you read the dials from left to right. Each dial turns in the opposite direction of the one before it. For exampe, if the first dial is set up clockwise, the next one will rotate counter-clockwise.

If the pointer is between two numbers, write down the lower number. If the pointer is directly over a number, write down that number. When you’re finished, you’ll have a five digit reading.

To read a digital meter, it’s a little simpler. Depending on your particular meter, you’ll see either one or two rows of digits. If you have two rows, one indicates a ‘day rate’ while the other one indicates a ‘night rate.’

If you don’t immediately see the numbers, you may need to push a button to display them. Once you’ve done this, record the first five digits of the readings, and ignore any digits in red or surrounded by red (2). In some cases, this is slightly different, but for the most part, that’s how to read a digital meter.

Looking at Your Usage

Now that you’ve made note of your reading, you can use it to check that you’ve been paying the correct amount of money on your energy bills according to your usage. Grab your most recent bill and ensure that what you were charged for matches the reading. Doing this is the most accurate way to depict exactly how much energy you’re using and how much you’re paying for it. In turn, you’ll be able to pinpoint any issues quickly and optimize your energy usage (3).

What Are Smart Meters?

Smart meters are highly advanced devices that provide two-way communication between you and your energy company. This can help alert your utility about blackouts and increase electrical service reliability.

Smart meters can work in sync with other web-based energy management systems which can help you remotely adjust your thermostat, analyze home energy use, and find hacks to save energy…and money! (4)

If you’re looking to upgrade your home (or building) energy management, a smart meter might be right for you.

Estimating How Much Energy Your Appliances Are Using

There are a few different tricks to obtaining an energy estimate for your home or building.

  1. Get a rough estimate of the number of hours per day that an appliance or electrical device runs. You can either guesstimate to the best of your ability, or you can keep a daily log for a week. At the end of the week, take the average to reach a daily number of hours.
  2. Find out what the wattage of an appliance or device is. This is sometimes printed on the appliance itself, or you can do some online research regarding your specific appliance.
  3. If you want, you can also calculate the energy consumption of your appliances by using the following formula: (Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption (5). Ask us for more information if you have questions.

Greater Comfort: Your Local Heating and Cooling Company

Another great way to track your home or residential building’s energy usage is by scheduling an energy audit. Energy audits are designed to provide an overview of how your home uses energy and in what ways you can reduce that consumption without incurring large costs. Our goal is to ensure you are not wasting energy or money on an inefficient HVAC system.

Greater Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. is your local heating and air conditioning company based in Newport, Kentucky. With more than 60 years of experience, our highly trained technicians bring our special brand of expertise and customer service to every job we perform.

Whatever your heating and cooling needs are, we’ve got you covered. Contact the experts at Greater Comfort today: 859-491-4915.


  1. https://www.thespruce.com/how-electric-meters-read-power-1152754
  2. https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/help-support/read-meter
  3. https://www.simplyswitch.com/energy/guides/electricity-meter-readings/
  4. https://energy.gov/energysaver/appliances-and-electronics/electric-meters#261999-tab-1
  5. https://energy.gov/energysaver/estimating-appliance-and-home-electronic-energy-use

Read the Greater Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning blog for energy savings tips and HVAC industry updates.