Reading the Gas Meter: How Much Natural Gas Are You Really Using?
With winter straight ahead and approaching fast, your nest may soon turn a chilly place to be, so if you haven’t armed your heating system for the challenge, now’s the perfect moment to do so. Compared to electricity, natural gas is a cheaper and safer fuel type for residential property, but you’ll still need to know how much gas your household is spending every month to avoid getting exorbitant heating bills during cold months or even ending up locked out of warmth when you need it most. If you’re new to gas meter readings, here are a few tips to help you keep tabs on your home’s gas usage and estimate heating costs in the season to come.
The ABC of Natural Gas Consumption
As a general rule, natural gas consumption is measured by the cubic foot, but the total number of units the gas company will bill you for is expressed in either hundreds (CCF) or thousands of cubic feet (MCF). To calculate monthly gas consumption, you’ll first need to establish whether the meter features the old-school clock dial or a digital display. After you take meter readings, you’ll need to convert the figure into therms, i.e. CCF: this is the metric the utility company uses to gauge your household’s gas usage and draw up the utility bill.
Locate the Gas Meter on Your Property
To take the readings for natural gas consumption, locate the gas meter on your property. You’ll usually find it somewhere between the incoming gas line and the point of distribution, i.e. at the gate or in the front yard. If the meter’s not easily accessible, clear out overgrown vegetation and other obstacles: it will make it easier for gas company employees to access the meter and get an accurate reading. If the meter is inaccessible, the supplier may decide to rely on consumption estimates for months in a row, which may land an exorbitant bill in your lap. For this reason, taking the meter readings on your own can save you cash and the hassle of scheduling an appointment with the gas supplier every once in a while.
Reading the Meter – It’s a Piece of Cake
Standing in front of the meter, you’ll see four or five dials arranged in a row. To take the meter reading, check each of the dials, from the left to the right, and write down the figures dial hands are pointing to. If the hand is pointing at the area between two figures, write down the lower of the two numbers. For example, if the dial hand is pointing between 9 and 0, 9 is regarded as the lower of the two.
In case the hand is pointing directly at one figure, check the dial to the right. If the hand on the right dial has passed 0, write down the number the left dial is pointing, but if the hand hasn’t gone over 0, you’ll need to use a number lower than the one the hand is indicating.
To add up your household’s gas bill for the month, subtract the previously recorded figure from the current reading, and multiply it by the conversion factor. The result you’ll get is the number of therms the gas supplier will charge you for.
Reading the Digital Natural Gas Dial
Digital meter displays have become a common sight in many households. A digital gas meter dial is easier to read than the standard clock-styled one, and renowned gas fitting services say that it is also more reliable than the traditional model.
Check the display and write down the numbers you see on it. To calculate the monthly energy consumption in your household, subtract the last recorded figure from the new reading. To estimate the amount of natural gas you’ll be billed for, multiply the result by the conversion factor and you’ll get the total therm number on your next gas bill.
When reading the gas meter, make sure to read the hands properly. On classic dials, the hands rotate in opposite directions: on most meters, the hand on the first dial runs clockwise, the next one runs in the counterclockwise direction, and so on. Also, when having the gas supplier’s staff check the meter, always ask them for the ID prior to reading to prevent potential complications and fraud. Good luck reading your meter!