We use the multi-spacecraft mission Cluster to make observational estimates of the local energy conversion across the dayside high-latitude magnetopause. The energy conversion is estimated during eleven complete magnetopause crossings under steady south-dawnward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). We describe a new method to determine the reconnection rate from the magnitude of the local energy conversion. The reconnection rate as well as the energy conversion varies during the course of the eleven crossings and is typically much higher for the outbound crossings. This supports the previous interpretation that reconnection is continuous but its rate is modulated.