While there are dozens of ways to conserve and use energy efficiently, there’s really only one way to see exactly how much energy you are using in your home.

Read your meter.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But do you know many people who do it on a regular basis? Do you even check yours?

When you keep a record of your usage – whether on a weekly or monthly basis – you have a better idea of where and when you might save. For instance, when the first cold front moves through Texas, chances are you’ll see a spike in energy usage. Depending on how big that spike is, you may want to take some steps to better winterize your home.

With that said, let’s get down to the mechanics of monitoring your meter.

 What’s a kilowatt, and why do I care?

The basic unit for measuring electric power is the watt. One thousand watts equals a kilowatt. Use 1,000 watts in an hour, and you’ve racked up one kilowatt-hour (kWh). The more of them you use, the higher your electric bill.

How do I read my meter?

That depends on what kind of meter you have.

Mechanical Meter.

  1. Four or five dials that run horizontally across the face of the meter.
  2. Each dial has numbers that alternate between clockwise and counter-clockwise.
  3. Starting on the right, record the number that the hand is directly on, or has just passed. Continue doing that, moving right to left.
  4. Subtract your prior reading from your current one, and the resulting number is your kilowatt-hour usage.

Digital or “Smart” Meters

  1. The panel shows date, time, consumption and more.
  2. Energy usage is captured at 15-minute intervals.
  3. If your home has a smart meter, you can get real-time data about usage by registering the meter at SmartMeterTexas.com.

 What’s the value of this list of numbers?

In short, the list is knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Keeping a regular record of your home’s energy consumption gives you the power to reduce your utility bill in any number of ways.

If you want to keep a digital eye on your usage, Direct Energy offers Texas customers an online usage and insights tool called Direct Your Energy. You can see what days of the month you used the most (and how that impacted your costs), as well how much energy in your home is used by which products. “We want our customers to use less energy. That may sound strange coming from an energy company, but we’re trying to help customers buy less of what we sell, and Direct Your Energy is just one way we are putting it in action,” says Sabrina Colgin, Director of Digital at Direct Energy.

“Most people are not aware of how components of their home play into their energy bill,” says Elizabeth Mayberry, Sr. Director of Innovation at Direct Energy. “Product maintenance is key, but understanding your home’s energy usage is just as important. With our Direct Your Energy tool, Texas customers can finally see what makes up those mysterious bar graphs on their bill, and use those insights to manage their energy usage, or check up on appliances.”

For more details on nipping those high meter numbers in the bud, you can attend Reduce Your Use University at https://www.directenergy.com/learning-center/energy-efficiency/.