Easy Home Meter Test

Is the digital ‘smart’ meter measuring electricity use accurately?

Rather than let the officials manage the testing process, test your own and be a smart consumer.  I’m not an electrician, just a smart consumer.

Here is the process I used.

Here is how to test the meter using 10 new  (but old fashioned) light bulbs: Turn off and unplug everything in your home, including refrigerator. Turn the breaker off to the hot water heater, if it’s part of your electric bill. Turn off most of the electric breakers if possible. In rooms where there’s still an electric current- plug in and turn on 10 new but ‘old fashioned’ light bulbs of 100 watts each. This should be the only thing that is pulling electricity in your home now.

Go outside and wait for the digital meter to move to a new kWh. Write down the time (Time A).

Now wait till the meter moves to the NEXT kWh (Time B). If it’s less than 1 hour after Time A, consider calling your favorite news agency to document the discrepancy.

Procedure using Kill-A-Watt EZ

Turn off and unplug everything in your home, including refrigerator. Turn the breaker off to the hot water heater, if it’s part of your electric bill (at your own risk).  In a room where there’s still an electric current, plug in a “Kill-A-Watt EZ” monitor (I bought one at Home Depot for $25). Plug in a high wattage appliance into the monitor (a hair dryer worked well for me; keep the appliance away from combustible surfaces)

Go outside to watch the digital meter turn to the next kWh.  Write the time down.

Run in the house.  Turn off the appliance (hair dryer) for a second. Press RESET firmly on the Kill-A-Watt EZ.  Turn the hair dryer on at full blast (keep flammable items out of reach).  Write down the time.  Go back outside and watch until the digital meter reaches another kWh.  If you have a friend to help- one person can stay in to watch the hair dryer and one stay outside to watch the meter.  The digital meter might reach the next kWh first if the meter is running fast. When the digital meter reaches the next kWh, write down the time.

Go inside your home and watch for the monitor to reach 1.00 kWh (there’s a Menu button on the Kill-A-Watt EZ monitor which will display the kWh).  When it reaches 1.00 kWh, write down the time. Turn the hair dryer off. Compare the numbers. If the digital meter reaches the next kWh in less time than the monitor takes to reach 1.00 kWh, consider calling your favorite news agency to document the discrepancy.

This test may be most helpful to people before they complain to the electric companies.  In my view, this decreases the potential of any remote adjustment of a digital program while you are conducting the test.

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