The difference between one month's reading and the next is the amount of energy units that have been used for that billing period. | Photo courtesy of Warren Gretz, NREL.
The basic unit of measure of electric power is the Watt. One thousand Watts are called a kilowatt. When you use electricity to power a 1000-watt vacuum for 1 hour, you use 1,000 watt-hours (1,000 Wh) of electricity. One thousand watt-hours equals 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh). Your utility bill usually shows what you are charged for the kilowatt-hours you use.
Electric meters use either digital displays or dials. The difference between one month's reading and the next is the amount of energy units that have been used for that billing period. You may wish to contact your local utility company for instructions on how to read your electric meter.
Millions of smart meters have been installed across the country. Smart meters provide two-way communication between you and your utility, helping your utility know about blackouts, for example. This helps utilities to maintain more reliable electrical service.
Smart meters can be used with home energy management systems such as Web-based tools that your utility provides or devices that can be installed in your home. Smart meters can display your home energy use, help you find ways to save energy and money, and even allow you to remotely adjust your thermostat or turn appliances off.