Determining kWh Use - How To Read kWh Meter

Reading an electric meter is actually quite simple to do, once you understand how. Many customers like to read their own meters throughout the month to gauge how much electricity they are using. Most new kilowatt-hour meters have cyclometer dials, that contain numbers like your car’s mileage odometer. These are easy to read. Here are instructions for reading an older style kilowatt-hour meter with pointers on the dials.

Notice that some of the dial hands on the meter turn clockwise and some turn counter-clockwise. Look at the first dial on the right. It’s turning clockwise and the hand is between the 7 and the 8. You want to record the number that the hand just passed, in this case, 7.

The second dial is turning counter-clockwise and is just past the 3, so that's the number you write down and so on.

Now, if the hand is directly on a number, you read it differently. Look at the dial to the right of the dial you are reading. If the hand on the right has passed zero, write down the number the hand on the left is pointing to, in this case, the 7. If the hand on the right is not past zero, then write down the next lowest number on the dial you're reading.

Take a look at these dials and see if you can get a reading - it's a little tougher (show meter on screen). What did you get? 8737 is correct.

Now, if you read this meter at the same time yesterday, you would subtract yesterday's reading from today'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. The section "Calculating Electric Bills" provides additional detail on electric prices and specific electric bill components you should be aware of.