Is Your Power Bill Accurate?

Power bills can constitute a substantial portion of your house finances, so it’s worth your while to ensure that you’re being charged an appropriate amount. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people’s power bills to not reflect the actual amount of electricity used by the consumer. Luckily, those with electric power meters installed at their homes can consult the instrument and compare their use to the price they were charged. Here’s how.

home-electric-power-meter-12149216 (2)Electric power meters are very sensitive and very accurate. To read them, you must peer through the glass enclosure until you can make out a rotating metal disc. This disc rotates in proportion to the amount of electricity that’s being used at the time that you’re reading it. If you’re using a lot of energy during that time (by doing things like heating or air conditioning your house or charging your electric vehicle), the disc will rotate faster.

Each rotation of the disc implies a specific amount of electricity. The disc’s rotation causes gears to rotate, which turn moves pointers on a dial that show how much electricity has been used all together. Electricity is measured in kilowatt hours, and one kilowatt hour of electricity can supply enough energy to keep ten 100 watt bulbs burning for one hour. A representative from your electric company reads your meter at regular intervals, ultimately billing you for the kilowatt hours that you have used. If the meter reader for some reason cannot access your meter, you will be billed based on an estimate.

But what if you want to read your power meter to check up on the accuracy of the meter reader? This isn’t too difficult, but you do need to understand which parts of the meter refer to what.

The first dial on the right measures units and rotates clockwise. The dial on its left measures tens and rotates counter-clockwise. The middle dial measures hundreds and rotates clockwise, and so on until the final dial, which measures ten thousands. You can read your meter from right to left and write down the numbers that each arrow points to.

powerIf the arrow on the dial is in between two numbers, record the lower number. The exception to this rule is when the dial is between 0 and 9. Because 0 represents the next revolution of the dial, 9 is actually lower than 0 and that’s the one you would record. If the dial is exactly on that number, then you can record that number accordingly.

Once you have recorded how much power you have used, check your power bill for the dates of when your meter was read and how much power you supposedly used. You can double check your power company’s meter maid’s work by either figuring out how much time they let pass (probably around a month) between readings and waiting that amount of time and then reading your meter again and seeing if you get a similar number (be sure to note if your electricity use has changed in that month, as it will show up in the amount of power you use) or you can time it so that you read your meter on the same day as the meter maid and directly make sure that the bill has the right difference recorded.

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