Electric Meter Not Working? Here’s How To Troubleshoot

Electric meters, like most electric devices, are awesome when they work and terrible when they don’t. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that it’s actually the electric meter not working, rather than an issue elsewhere in your home. DreamyHome deals with all things related to the home – and that certainly includes the things used to measure power to your home.

To see why your electric meter is not working, you simply need to look at it before and after turning off all electric devices in your home.

This is a pretty simple thing to check, though you won’t be able to fix this on your own. One way or another, you’re going to need to make a call to your electricity supplier when this is all said and done. Keep reading to learn how to troubleshoot a potentially faulty electric meter.

Troubleshooting an Electric Meter

First things first – before you give up and decide that your electric meter is busted, there’s a simple way to check. For the uninformed, you may notice your electric bill being drastically higher one month to the next – this is, at times, due to a malfunction in the meter. However, it’s entirely possible that one of your other devices is having some sort of issue related to power regulation.

Here’s how to check an electric meter:

  1. Begin by locating your electric meter. These generally look like the picture above – a large box with a dial on it built into the side of your home. It should have a dial ranging from 0 to 9 – don’t fret quite yet if you notice it spinning. It will spin faster the more you use electricity (faster during peak times, slower during down time) – make a note of how fast it’s spinning. Or, better yet, record it with your phone!
  2. Go inside and turn off everything powered by electricity. Turn off power bars, the breaker to the water and A/C – seriously, you’re turning off every single thing you can find. This is because you’re looking for something called a phantom load.
    1. While that term may sound spooky, it actually refers to devices that use power in “standby” modes. This could include televisions, gaming consoles, computers, and microwaves, among other things.
  3. Go back to your breaker. The disk should be completely still, assuming you actually turned off everything. If it’s still spinning, you either overlooked something or the meter is malfunctioning. Make sure you flipped every breaker in the house and try again.
  4. If it’s still spinning, you need to contact your electric provider.

Preventing Phantom Loads

If you’re a fan of putting your computer or gaming console to sleep, I’ve got some bad news for you. Yes, it’s easier to boot up and get going, but it’s still drawing power. As long as any device you have is plugged in and showing any sign of being on (lights, fans, etc.), it’s drawing electricity, albeit not very much.

To prevent phantom loads as much as possible, try to make the following into habits:

  1. Use power strips (I recommend a surge protector/power strip hybrid). Those that have a switch, allowing you to cut power to mutliple devices are best here. Turn off that switch when you’re done with the device.
    1. Surge protectors are awesome, especially when attached to valuable electronics with memory like a PC for one big reason. They are designed to essentially be another breaker built into the circuit. This prevents power fluctuations from damaging your sensitive electronics. And a bonus is that most surge protectors offer a warranty on any electronics that are damaged after a surge.
  2. Anything plugged into the wall draws power – including cell phone chargers that aren’t charging anything. Unplug unused chargers and bricks to prevent excess power consumption.
  3. Clocks with rechargeable batteries prevent you from using electricity you have to pay for, beyond their recharging. Again, unplug the charger when you’re done with it.
  4. Look for Energy Star certified devices. These are devices rated by the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are top-performing, cost-effective devices. They also rate homes and buildings. They will reduce your energy consumption about as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

If your electric meter isn’t working, you’re going to need to make a call to your energy provider. Be sure to test your meter before calling them, as there’s no sense in wasting time. Making sure that your devices aren’t drawing phantom loads will drastically improve your energy use. This will make you both more environmentally friendly and cut your power bill.

Use the above tips and you’ll see a good drop in energy consumption – you’re welcome.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.