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How To Read A Gas Meter

By on Jan 2, 2015
How To Read A Gas Meter

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Being able to read your gas meter can cut a $700 gas bill in half. After seeing my personal gas bill skyrocket last winter, I decided to take matters into my own hands and learn how to read a gas meter.

Gas is an expensive commodity and sadly, prices are only going up. Unfortunately, in order to determine how much gas you use on a monthly basis, gas companies frequently make estimates based on past use. However, if you are renting or live in an area with inconsistent weather, these estimates just don’t work.


My $700 Gas Bill

Last year, I was living in an older building with an old furnace. As you read in How Much Does A Furnace Cost?, a furnace’s efficiency is measured by its AFUE rating. The higher the AFUE value, the more efficient the furnace is. However, as time goes on, a furnace’s AFUE rating starts to decrease. I never looked it up, but I imagine our old furnace wasn’t converting as much fuel to heat as it should.

Nonetheless, when I saw our first $700 bill, I knew something was wrong. I had to check the gas meter myself. When I got down there, I saw a gas meter similar to the one pictured below.

Meter Reading

Since I now knew how to read a gas meter, I could see how much gas we were using each month. At the end of the billing cycle, I went down and read the meter. Then, I went into my account and saw that their meter reading was not correct.

Many gas companies, including People’s Gas and Nicor Gas, let you read your gas meter and report it to the company (instead of taking the estimate). This way, you know the company is taking an accurate reading.

As luck (or reality) would have it, once I reported the real reading, my gas bill was slashed in half.

How to Read A Gas Meter

The dials pictured above tell you how much gas you have used since the last reading. Most residential meters have four to six dials, numbered 0 through 9, on the front panel. The number of dials will depend on your gas company.

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As far as reading your gas meter, see our simple instructions below.

1. Read the numbers for each dial going from right to left. However, we will not be reporting the number in this direction. Further explanation below.

2. Always read the numbers in the direction the arrow on the dial is pointing.

If the pointer is between two numbers, always select the smaller number, unless the pointer is between 0 and 9, then select 9.

3. If a pointer is directly on a number, look at the dial to its immediate right. If its pointer has not passed zero, record the lower number.

Let’s Practice

What is the meter reading for this imaginary gas meter?

Gas Meter 1

Source: Peoples Gas

Going from right to left, we get 83849. As far as entering that into our meter reading, either online or via telephone, we must swap the order and our final meter reading becomes 94838.

Some may get confused with the second dial from the right. It is very close to the 4, but if you look closely, it does not hit it. Therefore, it is a 3. As I said earlier, these numbers can make the difference on your next gas bill.

Let’s try one more.

Gas Meter 2

Source: Nicor Gas

Going from right to left, we get 1499. As far as entering that into our meter reading, either online or via telephone, we must swap the order and our final meter reading becomes 9941.

Once again, the far left dial is right on the zero, but it has not passed it. Therefore, we record it as 9 since the dial runs counterclockwise.

Furnace & Boiler Costs

As mentioned earlier, older furnaces and boilers are not as efficient as newer models. Therefore, many homeowners choose to install newer models rather than replacing older ones. The initial cost might seem high, but you will surely make up those costs in years of gas bills.

To see what all forms of heat cost, please see our HVAC cost estimators


Knowing how to read your gas meter can save you money. It worked for me and it can work for you.

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