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Electric Meter Dials

Electric Meters

An electrical meter measures the amount of electricity that a home uses. Electrical power usage is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). A kilowatt hour is 1000 watts for 1 hour of time (ten 100-watt light bulbs that are on for 1 hour).

Your electric bill is calculated by multiplying the amount of electricity you use (in kWh) times the electric rate. For example, if you use 800 kWh of electricity at a rate of $0.115 (11 ½ cents) per kWh, your total bill will be $92.00, plus service charges and fees.

Unless you have a smart meter, a representative from the electric company comes to your house and reads your meter once a month. The kWh usage is then recorded to determine your next bill.

How do I determine my electric rate?

How to Calculate the Electric Rate from Your Bill

How to Read an Electric Meter

The following will show how to read an analog electric meter.

Smart Meters

Many homes have had smart meters installed in the past few years. Unlike the traditional analog meters, smart meters are digital and have few moving parts. The smart meter can communicate with the electric company office using a wireless signal similar to a cell phone.

Electric Bill Higher After Smart Meter Installed

Older analog electric meters have many mechanical components and moving parts. As they get older the mechanisms can slow down or even stop. A malfunctioning analog meter could cause a smaller electric bill because it under measured the kWh used. This problem (for the electric company) could be fixed by calibrating or replacing the meter.

Smart meters are digital and have very few moving parts, and are much more accurate. It is very possible that the your old meter was not measuring the total kWh usage. After installing the smart meter, the bill is higher because the new meter is more accurate.

If your bill went up after a smart meter was installed, check your bill for any electric rate increases. See How do I determine my electric rate?

How do I Know if my Electric Meter is Accurate?

All smart meters are not perfect. It is possible that a smart meter is not measuring kWh usage properly. If you suspect this, contact your electric company and request a test. They should send a technician out to test your meter to see if it is accurate. If you still think your meter is not measuring properly, you can install a power usage monitor on your meter.

Smart Meter Radiation

Some people believe that smart meters emit harmful radio waves. If you do a search on “are smart meters dangerous,” you will come up with a variety of information and claims about whether smart meters are harmful or not.

Smart meter radiation is similar to certain other electrical devices. There are many electrical devices that emit radiation including microwave ovens, Wi-Fi networks, cordless and cell phones, radios, garage door openers, etc.

Radiation intensity decreases as the distance from the source increases (using the inverse-square law). The farther you are from the transmitting source, the weaker the radiation level. If your bed is very close to a smart meter, there could be cause for concern.

What if I Don’t Want a Smart Meter?

If you do not want a smart meter installed or want the existing one removed, contact your electric power company. If they remove your smart meter and replace it with an analog meter, there will be a service charge.

With an analog meter, an electric company representative will need to come to your home to read the meter. This will result in a monthly service charge for reading that meter.

Analog Electric Meter




Pointer between two numbers, choose the lower number.

When pointer has passed zero,

use higher number. (6)

Digital Smart Meter


Pointer appears over number 6.


Analog Electric Meter

Digital Smart Meter

Save Energy

Standby (Phantom) Power

Energy Usage Calculators

Electric Meters

Residential Electric Rates