Doing your own meter reading is advisable, because when you know how to read a gas or electric meter, you can compute your actual bill based on the rates agreed upon or imposed in the prevailing market. You can avoid estimates. It will help you become hack-free. Your gas, electric or water meter reads or measures the amount of a utility your household consumed. The actual usage is based on the following formula:
Actual reading (today) – Actual reading (last month) = read meter measurement/consumption for 1 month
Here are three types of fixed and portable meters and procedures in reading them.
1. Digital metric meter. This is the easiest to read. This just looks like a digital watch or a calculator, in which the numbers shown are the actual readings. If there is a decimal point, the numbers after this point are not included in the meter reading.
2. Standard meter or odometer-type apparatus. This mechanism is as easy as the digital meter. Again, you just need to read the numbers as seen starting from left. Note that if there were red colored digits, these must be ignored. This type of reading can be categorized into two types:
- Single rate digital meter. You just have to read the number from left to right.
- Two rate digital meter. More commonly used for electric than gas meters, this two rate meter is usually used when the provider charges different rates for off peak and peak hours. The two rates to be used are peak and off-peak rates. The upper part is the meter that shows the “low” or “night” electricity you used (off peak). The bottom row will show how much of the peak electricity you consumed.
3. Dial Meter. You might think that reading this is as easy as reading time on an analog clock. You are wrong. It is sometimes tricky. That is mainly because of this main reason: Each dial turns in the opposite direction from the one before it, so check the way each turns. Usually, it is designed as follows: counterclockwise, clockwise, counterclockwise, clockwise, and counterclockwise. Once you are aware of this, you can simply read and record the numbers the needles point to. If it were between numbers, always choose the lower number, because you still have not consumed up to the higher number. If the dial hand is between 9 and 0, then 9 is the lower number. Also, you must be able to adjust the reading in accounting for any noise or variations. See below for two examples:
- Dial is shown directly over a figure. If this happens, you must note that number. Underline this number. This procedure is to lock the meter reading on that specific number.
- One of these numbers is followed by a number nine. You must reduce the figure underlined by one. See below for actual numbers:
i. 11269 should be 11259
ii. 49533 should be 39533
4. Smart meters. This is a new concept, which aims to match consumption with generation. Traditional electricity and gas meters only tell you how much energy you have consumed. However, smart meters give you information on how and when the energy was used. As of now there is no standard way of reading these smart meters, because manufacturers have not yet found a uniform way to produce and sell them.