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How Residential Gas & Electric Meters Work

One thing that many of you may be taking for granted is the gas and electric meters that you have on the side of the house or apartment. The bills come in every month, and you may go over them to make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary and then just pay it and move on. But do you truly understand what you are looking at and what all the terminology and bill sections actually mean?

If you need help reading your bill, there are some great places to check out that can help you through that process. Today, though, you are here to learn all about the meter that the utility companies use to charge you on that bill. Before learning how the meter works, you will need to understand that there are two different types of meters.

  • Accumulation Meters – This is one of the most common types of meters. They can be digital, clock-style, or dial types. They all read the amount of energy or gas that has gone into the home since the meter was installed. The person reading the meter will take the past reading number and subtract it from the new reading number, giving them the amount of the utility that your home has used since the last reading. From then, they will bill you accordingly.
  • Interval Meters – These are the types of meters all utility companies are switching to. They are smart meters that will read the amount of energy used every thirty minutes or so and will send the information to the provider. The provider will be able to look at the rolling totals at any time and bill you accordingly. This creates a way for a program to collect data, create a bill, and send it out without needing the help of human workers.

Now that you understand the two types of meters that may be present at your location, it is time to learn how to read electricty meter numbers and gas meter numbers. Both of them will be similar to each other, but the terminology is a little different.

  • Energy Meters – The energy meters will give numbers in watts. One thousand watts equals a kilowatt hour (kWh), which is how the energy company will bill you. You can see on the meter that each dial, clock, or digital reading will give you a set of numbers. These numbers will be the kWhs you have used since the meter was installed.
  • Gas Meters – The numbers the meter will give you are the same, but they are read by the cubic foot. You will be billed by the thousands of cubic feet (MCF), or by the hundreds of cubic feet (CCF). If your utility company prefers to bill you by the Therm, it is about every 100 cubic feet per one Therm.

Those are the two ways in which the meter will be billed to you, depending upon the type of service that you are talking about. The main thing to remember is that when you signed up for the service, they would have told you how much they would charge for each unit that they go by.

That is why it is so important to check the cost of the service before signing a contract and comparing it with some of the other providers in the area. The easiest way to do this is to go online to a comparison site, such as iSelect, and let them do the work for you. They will send you some choices through their partner sites, leaving you the simple task of sorting through them and finding the best option.

Now to the point of this article, which is to explain how the meter works. Once again, there are two different types of utilities; gas and electricity. They will each work in the same general way, but they are two different types of substances, so there are a few differences. Let's take a look.

  • Energy Meter – The energy meter reads how much electric current goes through it. As the power is used inside the home, it will pull power from the primary supply grid. This energy will move through the wires and into the meter on your home. The meter will then track how much power goes from the grid into your home.
  • Gas Meter – The flow is the same as the power meter, except that it is read by the amount of pressure that goes through the meter. The more gas you use, the more pressure the meter will have, turning the dials faster.

It is that simple to read and understand the energy and gas meters along the side of your house or apartment. There is no need to make it more complicated than what it actually is because that will do nothing be make your head hurt. All you need to remember is that the numbers from the last reading will need to be subtracted from the numbers of this reading, giving you how much of that utility you used during the billing cycle.

One thing to check is to see if you are charged differently according to specific times, such as when the grid is used the most. If so, there will be sets of numbers that you will need to gather, and then each of those numbers will be multiplied by the cost of that reading. Then, add them together, and you will have the amount you owe, not including any fees they may tack on every month.