How Do I Know If My Electric Meter is Faulty?

Electricity meters play a crucial part in your energy usage. These tools monitor and measure the amount of power you use in your home. Your energy provider uses your meter’s monthly readings to determine how much to charge you for each billing cycle.

These devices are made to last a long time, so having a faulty meter is rare. If your meter is broken, however, it may not provide accurate readings. Incorrect readings mean inaccurate charges, so it’s important to catch this problem quickly.

5 signs you have a faulty electricity meter

The situations below may indicate a problem with your electricity meter. At the same time, a faulty meter isn’t the only reason you might see these signs. If you are experiencing any of these issues with your electricity or bill, get in touch with your provider as soon as possible.

1. An unrealistically high power bill

The most obvious and alarming sign of a faulty meter is an unusual change to your energy usage and/or charges.

You might, for example, get a surprise when you open your latest power bill. Even though your usage didn’t change, your bill may say you owe more than you expected. The difference may be a small amount or could be hundreds of dollars higher than it should be. 

Similarly, you may know that you used considerably less energy during the last cycle than you usually do. Maybe you were out of town, didn’t run the heating or cooling, or replaced an appliance with a product that uses less energy. Yet, when your bill arrives, it shows the same amount or even more than it did the month before.

Or maybe the meter reading on your bill just seems higher than it should be. You know your home and you know that something isn’t right.

In all of these scenarios, the first thing you should do is get in touch with your power company. Ask if rates went up. See if they have an explanation for the increase. 

You can then request a meter inspection. Whether someone from the company comes to your home or you hire an inspector yourself, make sure a certified electrician is the one checking the device.

2. Your meter is showing an error message

Digital meters are slowly replacing old analog meters. These new devices are more reliable in general and easier to read. Homes equipped with a digital meter are typically less likely to have issues.

Thankfully, when it does experience a problem, a digital meter will almost always let you know. On the screen, you will see an “Error,” “Fault,” or “Battery” message if something is wrong. You might also see a warning light somewhere on the device.

If you think your meter reading is wrong, you can examine the device to see if it’s showing an error message. Getting in the habit of checking your meter regularly can also help. You can let your electricity provider know about the problem as soon as you see the message, minimizing the risk of false charges.

3. The power goes out

It’s normal to lose power during a storm, but only if all of the homes around you lose electricity as well. Power outages that only affect your home point to a problem with your home’s equipment. 

While uncommon, your meter can be damaged during a strong storm. It might be smashed by a tree branch or pulled away from the house. If the damage is enough to break the connection between your home and the meter, your power won’t work.

You will need to request a service call to restore your electricity. The electrician may be able to fix the device or may choose to replace it.

Occasionally, a storm is strong enough to pull the meter away from the house but doesn’t break the connection. Though you’ll have power, the electricity company will still need to come out to repair the device.

We recommend inspecting your electric meter after every large storm to make sure it is undamaged and working properly.

4. The reading hasn’t changed

Your home always uses power. Even if you’re away from home, your refrigerator, microwave, air conditioner, and other appliances constantly consume electricity. Unless the power is out, this means your meter’s readings will keep changing to reflect your usage.

If your meter’s reading hasn’t changed, you should contact your power company immediately. They can’t accurately measure your usage without this tool, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay for the energy you use.

For example, if the meter didn’t capture all of your usage during a billing cycle, your invoice may be less than you were expecting. Once your electricity provider has replaced your meter, however, they can see how much energy you used while it was broken. Your next bill may then be higher than usual to cover the difference.

5. The meter is old and in a poor condition

Electric meters have a long lifespan, but they don’t last forever. Over time, your device’s readings may become inaccurate. Power companies inspect and replace meters as needed, but they may not get to your home before your meter starts to fail.

If you think your meter readings are too high or too low, it might be time to replace the device. Older homes that have the original equipment are most likely to need replacements. 

Inspect the meter to see if it looks rusty or like it’s falling apart. Your power company can come out to inspect the device if it is in poor condition. If it is, they will install a new meter.

Where is my electricity meter?

You can typically find your electricity meter on one of your home’s outside walls. It should be near your power line. Other common locations include basements and utility closets.

Apartment buildings group the meters for all of their units near or on the building and label them with the unit number.

Find more ways to take control of your energy usage and costs on our blog.