How To Read A Utility Meter


A utility meter can have so many numbers that you get confused when you take a look at it. The next option would be to call someone that knows how to read a utility meter to help. Although this can work, you’re likely to encounter situations wherein you can’t find help and that would be bad.

Reading a utility meter bill is not rocket science. There are a few things you need to know that would help you execute this task perfectly. And that is what we will strongly discuss in this article.  However, before we get into that conversation, let’s identify a utility meter.

What is a Utility Meter?

According to Wikipedia, a utility meter is any of the following metering devices used on utility mains which include electricity, water, gas, heater, etc. A good utility meter will give you information regarding the healthiness and effectiveness of a product.

Today, there are a lot of smart utility meters that help you automate some processes. With these meters, you don’t need to keep a strong track on your expenses all the time.

Functions of a Utility Meter?

Utility meters function in diverse ways. However, they basically have central functions that occur between all of them.

According to PSC, utility meters measure the amount of electricity or gas that you use, the utility installs a meter between the incoming electric power or gas lines and the point of distribution at your house. The meter monitors your daily power or gas usage, and the utility will send out a meter reader to record your usage.

Types of Utility Meters

There are two types of utility meters which include

  • The Standard Electric Meter
  • The Gas Meter

The standard electric meter is a clock-like device that records the amount of electricity you use. When your home draws electricity from the power lines, a set of small gears inside the meter move. The number of revolutions gets recorded by the dials that you see when you look at your meter. The speed of the revolutions is determined by the amount of power that is consumed. 

On the other hand, a gas meter works by measuring the force of the moving gas in the pipeline. The dials turn faster as the flow of gas increases.

Further Reading: How To Buy Solar Energy in Nigeria | Specifications & Prices

How to Read a Utility Meter

When you want to read a utility meter, you have to first discover whether it is a digital meter or an analog one. The type of meter will determine the process involved in reading the meter.

How to Read an Analog Electric Meter

If you want to read an electric meter, there are four major steps you should follow.

Step 1

Understand the parts of your analog meter (also known as a dial meter) and how it works. Your meter usually has about four tosix dials that advance as a central disk turns. The disk is controlled by the electricity passing through the meter, giving a readout of how much electricity you are using.

This readout is given in kilowatt hours. One kilowatt hour is equal to the amount of energy it would take to power a 100-watt lightbulb for 10 hours. Most times, there’s a variety of words and numbers printed on the face of your electric meter. While these are not important in determining your electric usage, they do give you information about the mechanical details of your meter.

Step 2

Read the dials on your meter. Read them as though you were consulting an academic material. Begin on the left, writing the numbers down as you go. After you mark a number for each dial across, you have the electric meter reading.

Do not let the direction of the numbers on each dial confuse you. Some of the dials will be numbered clockwise and other dials may be numbered counterclockwise.

Look exactly where the arrow is pointing. If the arrow is positioned between 2 numbers, the reading is the smaller number. However, if the arrow is pointing directly on a number, verify what the number should be by referencing the dial to the right of it. If the arrow on that dial is past zero, the reading on the dial to the left is the number the arrow is pointing to. If the arrow on the right hand dial is not to or past the zero yet, the reading on the dial to the left is the previous number.

Step 3

Find out how your electric company read the last dial. Some companies round up to the next highest number while other companies record the number that the arrow is closest to. If you want to calculate your kilowatt hours on your own and you need calculation close to what the electric company does, it is beneficial to know how the company reads this last number.

Step 4

Calculate the kilowatt hours you have used. Most electric companies don’t reset the meter to zero after every reading. Hence, in order to calculate the number of kilowatt hours you have used, you need to keep track of consecutive readings. Subtract the current reading from the last reading you were billed for to get the most recent kilowatt hours used.

How To Read a Digital Electric Meter

To read a digital electric meter, you need to follow the right steps to ensure you get everything spot on. There are about three steps in this place for people who want to read this meter. They include:

Step 1

Understand the different parts of your meter. A digital electric meter records the amount of electricity your household is using electronically. Thus, a digital electric meter is much simpler to read than a traditional meter because it has fewer readings to decipher.

Unlike traditional analog electric meters, many digital meters transmit your meter reading wirelessly to the electric company via radio frequencies. This means that you will not have a meter reader come to your house to read your meter. If you prefer to keep your traditional meter, it may be possible in some municipalities to avoid having a new “smart” meter installed.

Step 2

Your meter should have a digital readout that gives you one long series of numbers. The exact configuration on this readout will vary depending on the manufacturer and the readout could include .

Do not let the direction of the numbers on each dial confuse you. Some dials will be numbered clockwise and they may number counterclockwise other dials.

Step 3

Calculate the kilowatt-hours you have used. Most electric companies don’t reset the meter to zero after every reading. Hence, in order to calculate the number of kilowatt-hours you have used, you need to keep track of consecutive readings. Subtract the current reading from the last reading you were billed for to get the most recent kilowatt-hours used.


Knowing how to read an electric meter bill is a handy skill as it helps you keep track of your electrical voltage capacity, which will help you budget properly when you need to renew it. Although many people use digital meters today, there’s still no harm in learning how to read an analog meter well.

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  22. AntonioCib 4 weeks ago

    Compare the number on the meter to the last number on your electric bill. All smart electric meters are digital meters. With a digital electric meter, you can clearly see one number on the face of the device — no reading a bunch of dials.

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