How to Read a Kilowatt Hour Meter

Electrical power is measured in watts, and one thousand watts are known as a kilowatt.

You can read a kilowatt hour meter.You can read a kilowatt hour meter.
The electric utility charges by the kilowatt hour, a unit of one thousand watts per hour. When appliances in your home draw electricity from the power line, it moves through a meter, turning gears whose movements are recorded by numbered dials at the front of the meter. The dials turn faster when more electricity is used. Every month, a meter reader from the utility company comes by and looks at the dials to find out how much money to bill you for the electricity you used.

Read the dials on your kilowatt hour meter from right to left. There are typically four or five dials. Look at the dial on the far right to get the first number of your recorded electricity usage.

Write down on a piece of paper the number the dial is pointing to. If the pointer on the dial is between two numbers, write down the lowest number. For example, if it is between 7 and 6, write down "6." One exception is that if a dial is between 0 and 1, write down "1."

Look at the next dials and record their number in the same fashion. If you have one of the newer digital meters, simply look at the numbers in the display, which is easier than getting the number off of individual dials.

Subtract the amount of electricity you've used so far from the amount on your last bill to get an idea of your current power consumption.

About the Author

Julius Vandersteen has been a freelance writer since 1999. His work has appeared in “The Los Angeles Times,” “Wired” and “S.F. Weekly.” Vandersteen has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.