Electricity smart meters, also known as interval meters, are used to intelligently calculate the amounts of energy a home or business consumes in a predetermined amount of time. Different from the standard electric meter, the smart meter leverages an onboard communication system to transmit energy usage amounts to the local utility provider in order to provide a real-time measurement of power consumption so that monthly charges can be billed accordingly.
In most cases, power measurements are updated every 30 minutes, thereby removing the need for a ‘Meter Reader’ to inspect the power meter on a monthly basis. Furthermore, since readings are transmitted every 30 minutes in a 24 hour cycle, the consumer has the ability to adjust their daily power usage based on the current rate of energy already used.
Smart meters are being rolled out in most cities across the nation. The majority of homes in Canada, the US, and Australia have been preparing for this implantation for several years.
The underlying advantage for local utility boards is the ability to save on human resources costs by not having to employ a technician to go out and physically obtain meter readings. Since a smart meter makes use of a built-in antenna for wireless data transfer, a centralized meter reading system at the premise of the utility provider will collect, store, and monitor the energy usage of consumers in the local vicinity. Since this type of system was designed to reduce the operational expenses of utility providers it is possible for them to offer lower energy charges to their consumers.
From a consumer perspective, the benefits of harnessing smart meter technology come from the ability to effectively monitor energy use and keep costs low. This can be done by monitoring power usage during peak and off-peak hours. Since electricity rates are less costly during off-peak hours, this means that the consumer can choose to control their energy expenses by waiting until off-peak hours to use high energy consuming appliances like the washing machine or the air conditioner. While the opportunity exists for the consumer to choose to use peak-time monitoring to control their energy use and essentially lower their monthly expenses, should they choose not to their smart meter will function just as the legacy model would have.
Simply having a smart meter installed does not translate to greater energy and cost savings. In fact, as many homes and businesses have found, having a smart meter installed but failing to adjust their energy use during peak and off-peak times has resulted in greater monthly expenses.
Smart meters, when used along with proper monitoring of off-peak and on peak times will allow the average home and business consumer to realize savings in terms of energy use and monthly utility charges.
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Colin McDonald write on behalf of Haven Power – Business Electricity Supplier