I have spoken with 4 consumers in as many days who have received huge electric bills because their meters were estimated, instead of actually read.
It reminds me of an investigation we did in May 2007 when we discovered CenterPoint meter readers estimating hundreds of thousands of Houston meters. CenterPoint is allowed to do this up to three months in a row. On the fourth month, they have to actually send someone to your home for a real *read.*
When all of this was going on, we encouraged consumers to read their own electric meters. It’s the only real way for you to know that your bill is accurate. PUC rules say that your electric bill must show if your meter was estimated or read. Look for the word “estimated” or the abbreviation “EST.”
Even if your bill doesn’t show that your meter was estimated, if it seems high, go around to the back of the house and check it out for yourself. (Check out the “read dates” on your bill to find out what time of the month the meter reader comes to your home. You’ll want to do your read around the same time.) Go on… don’t let all those dials intimidate you. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide I found on how to read your meter. Interesting that CenterPoint doesn’t post instructions.