Most meters have multiple dials-anywhere from three to seven. The reading on each dial represents a single digit of a larger number. Read the dials from left to right and write them down in that order. If the dials are arranged in a circle, read clockwise, ending with the dial labeled One, but ignore dial One on gas and water meters.

Whether the hand on a particular dial moves clockwise or counterclockwise, it always advances toward a higher number. If the hand on a dial is between numbers, record the lower number. If the hand is almost directly on a number, check the next dial to the right (or the next dial clockwise). If the hand on that dial has passed 0, record the number the first hand points to; if not, record the lower number.

To determine how much electricity, gas, or water you used, subtract the previous month’s reading from the new reading. For electricity, multiply the result by the meter multiplier given on your bill-usually 10-to get the number of kilowatt hours (kwh) used. Gas and water are shown in hundreds of cubic feet (ccf). To get the number of cubic feet, multiply the reading by 100. To convert cubic feet of water to gallons, multiply by 7.5.