REC's electric meter measures your use of electricity in units called kilowatt-hours or kWh. One kWh is 1,000 watts used for one hour--the equivalent of ten 100-watt bulbs left on for one hour.

Types of meters: standard meter digital meter

Generally, there are two types of residential electric meters. Standard meters have four or five dials. Digital meters use five or six numbers to display the meter reading in a digital format.

Understanding the dials on standard meters

The dials on the front of an electric meter work like the odometer on your car. When the hand on one dial makes a complete circle, the hand on the dial to its left moves up one number.

The meter has four or five dials with the numbers 0 to 9. The pointers rotate in different directions. Read the dials from left to right. When the pointer is between 0 and 9, the reading would be 9. If the pointer is directly on a number, look at the next dial on the right. If that pointer has not reached 0, the reading of the dial at the left is the lower number. If it has passed 0, the reading is the higher number.

In this example, the meter reads 19666. Subtract the reading taken on an earlier date--or the reading on your latest bill--from the current reading to get the number of kilowatt hours you've used since the earlier reading.