How to Read an Analog Electrical Meter

Written by sarah silverman
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How to Read an Analog Electrical Meter
Monitor your electric meter regularly. (electricity meter image by Charles Jacques from

Your electric meter tells the electric company how much power you have used, but the company often will send you a bill with an estimate of what it thinks your charges will be based on previous years' usage. To avoid this estimated bill, read the meter yourself and write the reading on a card to be mailed back or called in to the electric company.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Find your electric meter, usually located on the side of your house near or in the garage. In an apartment or condominium, there is usually a place on your floor where all meters are grouped together.

  2. 2

    Look at the meter and notice what looks like tiny clocks, but not all the hands are going clockwise . Find the first little clock all the way on the left. Look at the needle or the hand. Write down the number to which it is closest.

  3. 3

    Note that if the hand is between the 4 and the 5 but is closer to the 4, write 4 for the first number. If it is in the middle, look at the dial to the right. If the hand has not passed zero, use the smaller number. If it has passed zero, use the larger number.

  4. 4

    Continue this until you have read the clocks all the way across the meter. You need not write down the reading for the red dial at the end.

  5. 5

    Do this for six consecutive days. If you deduct the first reading from the second, you will be able to figure out how much electricity you are using in a day.

  6. 6

    Call your electric company and find out the procedure for reporting the meter reading. This way you will get a bill for only the electricity you use.

Tips and warnings

  • Read the meter every 30 days and mark the date and reading in your notebook.
  • Do not touch or try to open the meter when taking the reading.

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