# Electric power: You pay for it — learn to read the meter

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Spend any amount of time at all in a commercial RV park and you’re apt to get a power bill. Since power is expensive anywhere, it’s a bitter pill for RVers when they’re likely to be presented with a bill for rates higher than the locals pay. We’ve all heard the “cost of reading the meter,” “administrative overhead,” and “Huh?” excuses.

How do you know if you’re actually being billed for what you’ve used? In many parks, old-style clock-type electric meters are used, and many folks just don’t have a clue as to how to “read” them. Digital meters are a lot easier, but not near as common.

Here’s how to read a clock-type meter: Remember that each of the hands represents a single digit of the present reading. It’s helpful to recall that some hands turn clockwise, others counterclockwise. When the hand is between numbers, that hand is always read to the lower number.

In the picture, the reading on the meter is 43304. It may be difficult to discern that the second three (or the third hand reading from left to right) is really a 3. Why difficult to discern? When the pointer is close to being directly on a number, you have to determine whether it has actually reached the number yet, or not. The giveaway is simple: If the hand to the right of the one in question is past the zero, then the hand in question is to be read as higher. And remember: When meters are read they are NOT reset to zero.

So when you “check in” to your RV site, read the meter and write down the figures. To practice, you might read it every day to get the hang of it, and to see how little power RVers use — unless of course, you’re running the air conditioner! To know how much power or kilowatts you’ve used, simply subtract the earlier reading from the present reading. Knowledge, as they say, is power.

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## 2 thoughts on “Electric power: You pay for it — learn to read the meter”

1. Jeff Craig

Never thought of doing this as we stay in State Parks almost exclusively and never have to pay for power, but I am curious now how much ‘juice’ the A/C’s, TV’s and other electronics that we use while RV’ing actually use.

Mr. Kimball has the right idea. In my experience the smartphone camera is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

2. Dick Kimball

Use your digital camera or your smart phone to take a picture of the meter before you pull your rv in and a picture of the meter when you leave. That way everyone knows the real amount of power you used during your stay.