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Knowing how to read your meter can help you track your energy use and use your energy more efficiently. If you've never read your meter before, follow the instructions below for reading water or electric meters. Reading a meter is easier than you think.

Reading Water Meters

In order to keep a close check on how much water you are using, you may want to take regular readings of your water meter. 

The first step is to locate your meter which is generally enclosed in a concrete or plastic box located near the street, inside the curb in front of your lot.  Remove the concrete or plastic cover carefully to avoid injury and damage and set it aside.  Be careful to watch for insects, particularly spiders.  (Remember to close the lid and replace the cover securely when you are finished).  

There are two basic kinds of water meters - those with an odometer and those with multiple dials:

The odometer type of water meter reads exactly like the mileage indicator on your car.  Disregard any needle since this is used only for testing purposes.  

The multiple dial type of water meter has small dials in a circle, each marked off in ten divisions.  Each dial reads like the hour hand on a clock.  Note that every other hand turns counter-clockwise. To read the meter, start with the 10 dial (as marked) and always use the lower number.  Write the numbers down from right to left.  A "one-foot" dial is only for testing purposes.  If your read a meter a month later, subtract the old reading from the new and your will find the amount you have used in cubic feet of water.  Multiply by 7.48 and you will find the number of gallons of water used between the two readings.

Reading Electric Meters

Locating Your Meter

If there are several meters on the wall, yours will be labeled with the Meter Number as seen on your bill.  Before you can read your meter, you have to find it. Use the following tips to locate your meter.

  • The meter is usually near the main fuse box or panel of circuit breakers.
  • The meter is usually on the outside of the house or apartment building.
  • The meter is usually about 5 feet above ground level.
  • The meter has a round glass bowl covering four or five small dials that look like tiny clocks.
  • If there are several meters on the wall, yours will be labeled with the Meter Number in the Electricity Usage Section of your bill.

Some meters have four dials and some have five, but the method used to read them both is the same. Older meters have "clock" hands that take some practice to read correctly, but newer meters use "odometer" style dials that can be read directly. 

Reading Your Meter

Automated Meter Read (AMR) meters (pictured at left) are now the standard for new and replacement meters at homes, apartments and condominium complexes in Pasadena. The meters transmit a radio signal that automatically transfers billing data to handheld receivers our meter readers carry on their routes. These meters allow PWP to collect billing data much more quickly and accurately. To read an AMR meter, simply read the Solid State Digital readout in the center of the meter. To determine usage for the current billing period, subtract the meter reading on the previous bill from the current meter reading.

Current Reading = 26064
Prior Reading =14212
kilowatt hours =11852

If your meter has 4 or 5 round dials numbered clockwise from 1 to 0, follow these steps.

  • Pointers indicate the reading on each dial.
  • The pointers rotate in alternating directions (see example below).

1. Starting with the dial on the right and proceeding to the left, record the numbers indicated.

  • If a pointer is between two numbers, record the LOWER number.
  • If a pointer is directly on a number, check if the pointer on the dial to the right has moved past zero. If it has NOT passed zero, record the lower number from the original dial.

2. Congratulations! The 4- or 5-digit number (depending on the number of dials on your meter) you've just recorded is your new meter reading.  In the example above, the four dial reads 9045 and the five dial reads 97616.

3. To determine how much electricity (measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh) you've used since your meter was read last, subtract the previous meter reading (from the usage section of your bill) from your new meter reading.

For example…

The meter below reads 26064, as follows:

Pointer 5 Pointer 4 Pointer 3 Pointer 2 Pointer 1

Current reading
= 26064
Prior reading
= 14212
Kilowatt hours
= 11852

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