Our viewers are passionate about their utility bills and when NBC 5 Responds helped a viewer get her money back from the gas company, we showed you how to check your own meter.
And we heard from many of you. You had lots of questions and comments about meter reading, so NBC 5 Responds Deanna Dewberry went straight to the source.
Fred Beversdorf, the head of the Atmos Energy training program, trains gas employees and a facility Atmos calls Gas City, a Plano facility with more than a dozen buildings with meters attached that allows employees to have hands-on training. Beversdorf explained the measurements, pointing at the dials from right to left.
"These dials are measured at 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 and 1 million cubic feet," he said.
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Each linked to the dial beside it. Beversdorf explained that some dials go clockwise and others go counter clockwise because each of the dials is linked to the dial next to it.
"They're linked with gears so they all can't go the same direction because one's driving the other hand to go the opposite direction," he explained.
So when reading your meter, check whether the dial is moving clockwise or counter clockwise. When the hand is between numbers, you read smaller number that the dial has passed. In the example pictured above, the dial on the far right is a 5 and the one beside it is a 6, but what about the circled dial?
"They're interlocked with each other, so this hand drives the rest of them," Beversdorf said. "So this hand is not quite on the two. It's a one."
Many observant viewers who contacted NBC 5 are right. It is a one. Here's how we know for sure: The dial to the right is only on 6 (remember, the dials are linked), so to move the second dial to the number 2, the third dial would need to have made a full rotation.
Getting the read right is important. It's your money, and it's subject to human error.
NBC 5 Responds Deanna Dewberry stood over a meter looking down at a dial that was between two numbers. Standing upright, it looked as though the hand had reached the 3. But when she crouched at eye level, she could see that the hand was between the 2 and the 3.
"That's a good point. That's why we practice, practice, practice on how you read the meter and where you position," Beversdorf said.
It goes to prove that meter reading is not as easy as clockwork.
Atmos says it values its employees and mistakes are rare, but it does have wireless technology that allows them to read meters electronically, taking human error out of the equation. Beversdorf told me part of the reason Atmos doesn't go wireless is cost. But spokesman Jennifer Altieri wrote that it might be in the works.
"This fiscal year in Texas, Atmos Energy will spend almost $800 million to modernize our system through infrastructure replacement in order to provide safe and reliable natural gas service to our customers," she stated. "Wireless meter reading technology is included and will be installed on new services and replacement meters where it is applicable."
Here's our advice if you have any question about your bill:
- Read your meter yourself.
- Take a picture.
- Call Atmos at 888-286-6700 and ask them to re-read your meter.