# Electric power: You pay for it — learn to read the meter

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Spend any amount of time at all in a commercial RV park and you’re apt to get a power bill. Since power is expensive anywhere, it’s a bitter pill for RVers when they’re likely to be presented with a bill for rates higher than the locals pay. We’ve all heard the “cost of reading the meter,” “administrative overhead,” and “Huh?” excuses.
How do you know if you’re being billed for what you’ve actually used? In many parks, old-style clock-type electric meters are used, and many folks just don’t have a clue as to how to “read” them. Digital meters are a lot easier, but not near as common.
Here’s how to read a clock-type meter:
Remember that each of the hands represents a single digit of the present reading. It’s helpful to recall that some hands turn clockwise, others counterclockwise. When the hand is between numbers, that hand is always read to the lower number.
In the picture, the reading on the meter is 43304. It may be difficult to discern that the second three (or the third hand reading from left to right) is really a 3. Why difficult to discern? When the pointer is close to being directly on a number, you have to determine whether it has actually reached the number yet, or not. The giveaway is simple: If the hand to the right of the one in question is past the zero, then the hand in question is to be read as higher. And remember: When meters are read they are NOT reset to zero.
So when you “check in” to your RV site, read the meter and write down the figures. To practice, you might read it every day to get the hang of it, and to see how little power RVers use — unless, of course, you’re running the air conditioner! To know how much power or kilowatts you’ve used, simply subtract the earlier reading from the present reading. Knowledge, as they say, is power