Electricity is a vital service, powering everything from a home's lights to large appliances such as stoves. Utility companies monitor and bill electricity consumption based on readings from a home electric meter, which is installed when the initial house wiring is complete. Regular testing and maintenance of these meters by licensed technicians can prevent inaccurate readings, billings and power usage.
Compare trends or patterns using information gathered from monthly bills, such as the dates of changes in electricity consumption. Comparing the rise in power consumption to changes in the home can help point out what may cause an increase in power usage and provide technicians with vital information used to troubleshoot meter problems. Avoid comparing increases in bill payments because the cost of electricity changes over time independent of power usage.
Schedule an appointment with the power company that provides electricity to your home. Check previous utility bills for the provider's name if you do not know or can't remember it. Representatives from the company may schedule a date over the phone for a licensed technician to test and repair, if necessary, the home electric meter. Many meters are tested regularly if they are easily accessible by the technician.
Ask for identification and verification that the visiting technician is an employee of the company when he arrives. Some door-to-door scam artists attempt to sell utility packages on behalf of independent companies that are unrelated to your provider. When the technician's identity is confirmed, he may request permission to enter your home if the meter is located indoors.
Perform additional tests when electric meters function properly yet energy usage is impossibly high. Ask the technician to test energy consumption while the breakers are all in the on position, then again in the off position. Poorly installed wiring or circuit breakers may leak electricity when all breakers are off, drawing power from the utility company and raising utility bills significantly over time. Contact a licensed electrician to perform testing or repairs of home circuits.
Tips & Warnings
- Home electric meters cannot be tested if they have had power disconnected. Ensure your billing is in good order to prevent problems while testing.
- Never tamper with or alter the electric meter installed in your home. Doing so may result in fines, utilities being shut off, serious risk of injuries to life or limb and possible criminal charges.
- BC Hydro: Electric Tariff
- U.S. Department of the Interior: Watt-Hour Maintenance and Testing
- Maryland Public Service Commission: Utility Bills Higher Than Expected
- Fermilab: Electrical Safety Workbook
- Thunder Bay Hydro: Customer Energy Services
- Fire Engineering: Construction Concerns: Electrical Service Hazards
- Photo Credit electric meter image by palms from Fotolia.com
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