Knowing how to read your water meter is a useful way to better understand your water usage. The face of your water meter, often covered by a plastic, flip lid, tracks your water with either an analog dial or digital reader.

How to read an analog dial water meter:

An analog dial meter will have one or more moving hands that move clockwise around the meter. If your meter has an analog dial, your water usage will be recorded in either gallons or cubic feet, as indicated on the bottom of the face of your water meter. As the hand moves from one number to the next, 1 gallon or 1 cubic foot of water as passed through your meter. So when the moving hand makes a complete rotation of the face of the water meter, 10 gallons or 10 cubic feet of water has passed through your water meter. To read a water meter in gallons, take note of the number at the bottom of your water meter. The number to the far right is a “standing 0”, represented by the number of gallons used as indicated by the hand.

The meter above is an analog meter that reads: 302,152 gallons.

Some analog water meters read water usage in cubic feet, instead of gallons, and incorporate a decimal point, reading like an odometer in a car. The conversion between cubic feet and gallons is 1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons of water; to calculate your water usage in gallons on a meter that reads in cubic feet, multiply the number on the bottom of the face of your water meter by 7.48. Take note of the decimal point; on these odometer water meters, the decimal point may be written as a period or a comma.

The meter above in an analog meter that reports in cubic feet and reads: 9,048 gallons.

The meter above in an analog meter that reports in cubic feet and reads: 269.28 gallons.

How to read a digital water meter:

The digital meter above reads: 75.5 gallons.

A digital water meter will not have moving hands; instead, the numbers on the face of your digital meter will resemble the image below:

If your digital water meter is blank, shine a light (sunlight, flashlight, or cellphone light) on the solar panel at the top of the face of your meter to active the reader. Digital water meters will alternate between showing your water usage and the rate of water used. When showing your reading, digital water meter reads as is and includes a decimal point. When showing the rate of water used, the number on the screen is represented by gallons per minute, and will appear on the right side of the screen.

The digital meter above reads: 180.73 gallons.

The digital meter above reads: 15.21 gallons.