Do you check your meter readings against your bill?

JudithMarch 10, 2004

Just wondering how many, if anyone, checks the meter readings of their electric meter, water meter, gas meter, etc. against their bill when they receive it. I know the reading will be different but it is a way to determine if the reading seems reasonable. I am asking this because this morning I opened my water bill and couldn't believe what my bill said. My water bill usually runs about 16.00 per month. This month it was $65.00 and said that I had used over 13,800 gallons of water. I don't have a dishwasher and don't even have a washing machine and am quite frugal in my water usage. The first thing I did was to go outside with a flashlight (it was 5:00 AM) and look for a leak. No leak was found. Then I read my water meter and wrote down the number and went back in the house to check the meter reading number on my bill. It was way off. The bill said my meter reading was 267800 back on the 23rd of Feb. when the meter was read. This morning my meter reading was 259130 which looked to be the right amount from what was on the bill last month. I called the water co. and they corrected the amount. The woman said that the meter readers look at numbers all day long and they do make mistakes. The mistake on my bill was so large that I knew right away that something was wrong, but if it had been only a few dollars off I propably would have just gone and paid it and not checked the meter. From now on, I am checking the meter reading myself. Judith

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True, meter readings can definitely be in error, but keep in mind that these errors are not going to cost you any money in the long run.

In the case of your water bill, for example, your bill for water usage the next month would have been zero because the meter reading still probably would not have come up to the figure they erroneously recorded on the previous month's bill. The same would be true of gas and electric meters. (There may still be a monthly service fee you pay, so the bill wouldn't actually be zero, but you'd pay that anyhow. The bill for your actual usage will be zero.)

However, some people may object to "lending" the utility company money in the form of paying a big bill this month, even though that money is going to be paid back to them over the next few months in the forms of very low or non-existent bills. These people can simply do as you did and read the meter themselves if they get an overly high bill, and the utility company will make the appropriate adjustment.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 11:48AM
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I guess I just didn't trust that particular utility company. There have been problems with them before in that they came in my yard and sprayed an herbicide all around my front yard near where the meter is and they sprayed a flower bed that was several feet from the meter because they were afraid of snakes. I was afraid that they would somehow use the erroneous meter reading as the starting point on the next bill and go from there.

Thanks for your comments. I still think it is a good idea to check the meter readings from time to time. The electric company actually recommends it and gives instructions on their bill each month on how to read the meter.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 12:22PM
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Well, they do use the erroneous meter reading as the starting point for the next month. Then they come out and read it, and find that it's not even there yet, so the error is then discovered. For example, if the meter reads 10000 today and they mis-read it as 11,000, then they use 11,000 as the starting point for next month, but then when they come out and read it, the meter only shows 10,500. The error is then discovered, and your bill for month #2 is zero.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 4:15PM
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