How to Read an Electric Meter

BC Hydro used to have live “meter readers,” employees who visited more than 1.9 million customers to take an electric meter reading.

Now that BC Hydro has fully transitioned all customers over to “Smart Meters,” in-person electric meter readings are no longer necessary.

However, do you know how to read an electric meter?

In this Premium Electric blog post, we’ll show you how to read an electric meter by BC Hydro and by Fortis BC. We’ll also explain the importance of understanding how your house electric meter works.

BC Hydro Power SmartBC Hydro Electric Meter Reading

If you are a BC Hydro customer, thanks to Smart Meters, reading your electricity meter is now easier than ever – as long as you know what to look for, and how to interpret it.

What is a Smart Meter?

The Smart Meter wirelessly transmits energy usage data to BC Hydro, which means BC Hydro can eliminate in-person electric meter readings.

This does not mean you don’t need to know how to read your electric meter though. In fact, doing so can help inform you of your electricity consumption practices. It can also help you make changes that could save you money like installing smart thermostats.

If you are a BC Hydro customer, your Smart Meter will display six (6) different screens, each of which shows you something different.

This BC Hydro PDF file outlines How to Read a Smart Meter but below are some details of what each screen can reveal in relation to your electricity usage.

Your Monthly Electricity Bill

Every month your electricity bill arrives. And every month you pay it, often without even really looking at it. After all, it is what it is, and we can’t live without it. Right? Yes. And no.

Given the price of everything these days – gas, groceries, etc. – you, like everyone else, are probably looking to economize wherever possible. Electricity is no different.

But what can you actually do to economize on what seems to be a fait accompli?

Remember, knowledge is power. Electric meter reading is an easy skill that you should have.

Being able to read your meter will not only alert you to discrepancies in your electricity bill but also help you keep track of your monthly energy use or consumption. This, in turn, will allow you to make changes where possible to help you reduce both your bills and your impact on the environment.

Read power meterReading Your Smart Meter: Electricity Consumption

Kilowatt-hours (kWh) is the measurement used by Smart Meters to record how much electricity your home has used. Of course, if your power goes out there is no electricity consumption.

To calculate how much electricity your home is using, look for the screen with an “01” on the top left of the display. This shows how much electricity in kWh you’ve used since you first got the Smart Meter.

If you record this reading each month you will be able to calculate the difference in kilowatt-hours from month to month.

how to read your power meter

Reading Your Smart Meter: How Much Electricity Are You Generating

Even with renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, solar panels, or geothermal energy, your smart meter will be able to read how much electricity you are generating.

On the top left corner of your smart meter’s screen, look for the “02” indicator. Your renewable energy source may be providing too little energy or more energy than you need.

  • If your home needs more electricity, you will purchase the difference from BC Hydro
  • If your renewable energy source produces more electricity than you need, the difference will automatically be credited to your BC Hydro electric bill.

Reading Your Smart Meter: LCD Screen Check

Sometimes you might see a flashing “888888” number appear on your Smart Meter’s screen. Don’t be alarmed! This simply means that your electricity meter is doing a routine check of its display pane.

Reading Your Smart Meter: 3 Other Screens

The other three screens you will see when doing an electric meter reading are less helpful for your own purposes. They provide information on things like your meter’s registration status and how it is configured and synchronized.

If this sounds like something way above your pay grade, don’t worry. These are intended more for the use of electricians who may be doing work on your property. They don’t really hold any useful information for the purposes of monitoring your electricity bill or environmental impact in terms of consumption.

This BC Hydro fact sheet offers more information about the BC Hydro Smart Metering program including accurate billing, outage detection, and how Smart Meters conserve energy.

Fortis BCFortis BC – How to Interpret Your Electricity Meter Reading

Transitioning all BC residences and businesses over to Fortis advanced meters has now been completed by Fortis BC as well.

Like BC Hydro’s Smart Meters, the new Fortis BC advanced meters will allow wireless transmission of data usage. This helps by not only improving billing but also saving you money and energy. It gives you the ability to know more about your electricity usage and energy consumption.

Also, like the Smart Meter, Fortis BC advanced meters will display various screens of information, much of it unhelpful for your purposes. Here are some details of what each screen can reveal in relation to these goals.

Advanced power meterReading Your Advanced Meter: Electricity Consumption

To take an electric meter reading to see how much electricity has been used since the meter was installed, wait for the screen that shows the numbers ‘401’ on the left-hand side of the digital display.

Now that you’re on this screen, look at the numbers on the right – these show your total kilowatt/hour (kWh) usage from the time your meter was first installed.

So, to calculate your monthly usage, you must take a reading once per month, then subtract the previous reading from the current reading. The difference equals the number of kilowatt-hours used between the two electric meter readings, and that is your monthly usage.

How to read your advanced power meterReading Your Advanced Meter: Electricity Generation

Through Fortis BC’s net metering program, you can provide information about the renewable forms of electricity you are using. This information is recorded in kWh on the screen which displays “402” on the left side.

Reading Your Advanced Meter: Other Screens

Other screens on the FortisBC advanced meter, which are not that useful for the purposes of this lesson in electric meter reading, include screens displaying:

  • Service voltage – displayed on the screen which shows “477”
  • Peak amounts – there is also a display screen, identified by the number “451,” which will show electricity consumption peaks for that billing period. This information is used to calculate any applicable demand charges.
  • System and diagnostic information

You can learn more about reading your FortisBC Advanced Meter here.

About Premium Electric

Based out of Abbotsford BC, Premium Electric offers both commercial and residential electrical services to clients throughout the Vancouver Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley including Chilliwack, Mission, and Aldergrove.

Are you still not sure about your electricity bill or electricity consumption, or how to ensure you are making energy-smart choices? We are here to help.

If you have an electrical problem, for your own safety and the safety of your home and family, always hire a qualified electrician.

Premium Electric only employs certified electricians.

Call us at 604-308-6195 or contact us online.

We can also be reached by email if you need an electrician in Surrey, MissionLangley, or Chilliwack.

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