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How to Read Residential Electric and Natural Gas Meters

Before being able to read your residential and natural gas meters, you need to know a few things. First of all, you need to figure out where your outdoor meter is. Most of the time, you can find it on the side of the house where most of the electrical cables come into the house from the main power lines. 

There are a few times when the main box will be placed elsewhere, such as on a nearby power pole, but if you need to go on a scavenger hunt to find it, now is a good time to do so.

The second thing you need to do is see what type of meter you have. There are several different types, and each of them is read differently. Let’s take a look at the 5 basic types of meters and then go from there.

  1. Smart Meter
  2. Digital Display Meter
  3. Odometer Display Meter
  4. Clock Display Meter
  5. Domestic Diaphragm Gas Meter

These are the five basic types of gas or power meters you will have to keep track of your power usage. But along with that comes something else you need to know before reading your meter. Let’s review them quickly and then get back to how to read each of the meters above.

  • Flat-Rate Meter – A flat-rate meter will slowly count up from 0 when installed and will continue increasing until the meter is removed. The way to read these types of meters is to take the number on the meter right now and subtract it from the last time you wrote it down (usually a month). You get how much energy or gas you used between those two periods.
  • Electricity Interval Meter – These are usually digital-type meters with digital displays on the front rather than dials or numbers. These meters count your power usage in 30-minute intervals so you can get a better idea of when your high power use times are.
  • Electricity Smart Meter – The country is slowly converting all the power and gas meters to this type because the meter sends real-time data directly to your service provider. All the information is stored on an application you can download on your phone. 
  • In-Home Displays – These devices are placed inside the house, so you do not have to read the meter outside. It can be a simple model that just shows you numbers like outside, or some more advanced models can offer you regular reports to help you figure out how to save on your energy usage.

Now that you know what type of meter you have and how it needs to be read, it is time to answer the main question of how to read electricity meter.

How To Read A Smart Meter

You can always read the numbers on the front face of the meter, which should be on a digital display, or you can see the numbers from the in-home device that you have installed. Overall, though, the easiest and most accurate way to read this type of meter is by going onto your mobile device, downloading the company’s application, and looking at all the numbers that have been broken down for you.

How To Read A Digital Display Meter

With this type of meter, you can quickly take a peak at the digital numbers it gives to you on the face or inside. This number will need to be written down, and then write another number down after a set amount of time. Subtract the first number from the most recent, and you will get the energy or gas you used during that timeframe.

How To Read An Odometer Display Meter

As you might have guessed, this one is similar to how you would read the odometer in your car. The revolving display will show you a set of numbers you must subtract from the previous set of numbers you wrote down. If there is more than one set of numbers, write them all down because they have been broken down into different times, such as during peak and off times.

How To Read A Clock Display Meter

This type of meter may seem a little confusing, but once you get the hang of reading it, you will find it simple. All you need to do is look at the four clock dials and write the numbers that they show in the order that it is on the meter. If the dial falls in the middle of two numbers, you will want to take the lower number and write it down. For example, if the hand is between 6 and 7, the number you write down will be 6.

How To Read A Domestic Diaphragm Gas Meter

The only difference between this meter and the Odometer Display Meter is that it is strictly for gas. When you write the numbers down, ignore all the ones in red. The other numbers will be the ones you need to be able to keep track of your gas usage from one point to another.

Final Thoughts

Taking the time to learn how to read your specific type of meter is a great way to keep track of your own amounts of usage. This will help you isolate problem times, and if you need to narrow it down, you have the energy or gas providers app on your mobile device. If your carrier has not upgraded to them yet, or if your area does not have them available, you will have to go old school and hire a professional. They will hook up some equipment and give you a detailed readout of all the information you want.

With that information, you can easily isolate where your home has excessive power or gas consumed. Of course, there are specific peak times when you will always see an increase, such as in the morning before work and school. Generally, if you have a spike in the living room at midnight, something is drawing power that you might want to find.