Electricity is the most widely used power source in the United States. As of 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American home used 11,040-KWh (kilowatt hours) over the course of a year. Homeowners who see a rise in their energy bills may be concerned with the amount of energy they are using or the mechanical equipment that records that usage. An electric meter is the device used by the electric company to record energy usage. Should a malfunction occur, this device may record energy use when none is being consumed. If you suspect a problem, reading your meter to ensure it is working properly is the first step to a solution.
- Skill level:
Examine your electric meter. You will see a set of dials that have numbers from 0-to-9. Directly under those numbers you will see a disk. The disk spins according to the level of electricity you are using, spinning faster during peak usage. Make a mental note of how fast the disk is spinning.
Turn off all the appliances in your home. Turn off power bars and all sources of phantom loads. Phantom loads come from appliances that have a standby mode, light, or clock. Turn off the breaker to the hot water heater and heating and cooling unit.
Return to the meter and look at the disk. The disk should be at a standstill with the appliances off in your home. If the disk is still spinning, you may have overlooked an appliance with standby power. Turn off the breakers in your home to ensure that no power is flowing into the house.
Check the disk a second time. If the disk is spinning, the meter has malfunctioned and you should contact your power company. If the disk has stopped its rotation, it is working correctly.
Tips and warnings
- Contact your power company if you suspect a problem with the meter or your homes electrical wiring.
- Compare bills to chart your monthly kilowatt usage; it is best to compare electric bills from the same month of different years.
- Install timer on the hot water heater to lower electric bills.
- Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances to reduce your energy usage.
- Heating and air-conditioning equipment are the main sources of power consumption in a home.
- Meter tampering is illegal. Never attempt to remove the lock.
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