Reading your electric meter
It's not difficult to read an electric meter once you know how, and it only takes a few seconds. Electric meters display kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the amount of electricity 10 100-watt light bulbs use in one hour.
The values on the meter are cumulative, so if you live in a 40-year-old home, you will likely see very large numbers on the meter. The amount of electricity you use in a month is calculated by subtracting the value at the beginning of the month from the value at the end of the month, not by the overall number indicated.
What to look at
There are two basic things to look at when reading the meter. The first is the silver wheel that runs horizontally across the center of the meter. This has a small section that is painted black so you can see whether its spin is fast or slow. This wheel tells you how much electricity you are using at this time. The faster it moves, the more electricity you are using.
Above the horizontal wheel is a series of small dials that look like watch faces with only one hand. Each of these has numbers from 0 to 9 on them. Note that on every other dial the numbers increase counterclockwise. This is a function of the gearing in the meter. These dials need to be read as indicated, not as you would expect with a clockwise-moving dial. The dial farthest to the right is the lowest number. Usually, a movement of one number on the dial is equal to one kilowatt-hour used, but in some cases it is necessary to multiply this value by 10 or 100. Check your electric bill to see if there is a multiplier. Each dial to the left moves one number for each full circle of the one to its right, so a 1 on the second dial indicates 10 kWh and a 1 on the third dial indicates 100 kWh.
The meter shown at the top of this article is showing 30084.5 kWh.