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These dials from left to right, measure kilowatt-hours (kWh) by the thousands, hundreds, tens and ones. A kilowatt-hour is the electricity needed to burn ten 100-watt light bulbs for one hour. Some meters have four dials, some have five dials and some may even have six dials on the face of a meter. Each dial has 10 numbers and a pointer. Every other dial is numbered counterclockwise. The hands follow the direction of the numbers and advance only when you are using electricity.

FIGURE 1. The pointers on the first, third and fifth dial move in the same direction as a hand of a clock. The second and fourth pointers move in the opposite direction.

When reading your electric meter, keep these hints in mind:

  • Stand directly in front of the meter so that you can clearly see the location of each pointer.?
  • If the pointer is between two numbers, read the number the pointer has just passed, always the lowest number.
  • If the pointer is between 9 and 0, always read 9.
  • If the pointer appears to be exactly on a number, read the next lowest number unless the pointer to its right has passed zero. Since the first dial has no dial to its right, the number must be read independently.
  • If your meter has digital numbers, use those as your reading.
  • Each meter is numbered. Make note of your meter number.

What is the reading of the example electric meter shown below?

FIGURE 2. Read the dials from left to right.

  • The pointer on the far left dial has passed 8, and is between 8 and 9. Read the smaller number which the pointer just passed, which is 8.
  • The pointer on the next dial looks like it is right on the 4. But, the dial to its right has not passed zero. So, you would read this dial as 3.
  • The next dial has passed 8, and is between 8 and 9. Again, read the smaller number which the pointer has just passed, which is 8.
  • The second pointer from the right has just passed 9, and is between 9 and 0. Read this as 9.
  • The pointer on the far right is directly on number 5. Read this as 5.

The answer is 83895.

How to read the amount of electricity used in one week:

FIGURE 3. The reading on week-one is 2-6-3-5.

FIGURE 4. A week later at about the same time the reading is 2-8-3-9.

If you subtract the earlier reading from the new reading:

 2839 New Reading
-2635 Earlier Reading
204 kWh used

The answer is 204 kilowatt hours used.

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