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Smart meters - do I need one?

Posted by Simon Caddy Electrical on 6 July 2017
Smart meters - do I need one?

You may have heard of smart meters, but what exactly are they and how do they work?  Even more important, should you install one?

Read on to find out more about smart meters.

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is an electricity meter with added functionality.  Unlike the passive 'accumulation' meters many people have, which only read the amount of electricity used between readings every few months, smart meters digitally record data about energy consumption in real time.
Smart meters offer a range of capabilities and services which accumulation meters do not.

For example, they can:

  • transmit energy use data to the utility, so that meter readers are no longer required
  • receive and carry out commands such as disconnecting the supply when customers move out and reconnecting it when the next customer moves in
  • monitor the supply for faults and automatically advise the utility in case of problems
  • act as a 'gateway' or point of communications to the home for important information such as changes in price or notification of emergencies
  • ultimately act as a two-way interface with the customer's own appliances via a 'home energy network'.

Smart meters can transmit data, receive commands, monitor supply and communicate with appliances.

Should I get one?  Can a smart meter help me save money?

There's a pattern to how we consume energy.  High energy use times are weekday afternoons and evenings.  Not surprising, low energy use times are overnight when we're all sleeping.

The problem is that electricity can't be stored easily on a large scale.  So energy networks need capacity to generate enough energy for peak demand times, even though much of the network's capacity may lie dormant during the off-peak hours.  The network also needs to cater for the periods of heaviest demand such as hot summer days which may only occur for several hours a year.  And the infrastructure needed to supply energy is expensive; in fact, the Australian Energy Market Commission's price trends review in 2014 found that 53% of our energy bills are due to network costs.

If a large number of electricity customers shift their energy use to off-peak times, there's less need for expensive upgrades as the current network infrastructure can be used more efficiently.

Thanks to the data now available through smart meters, energy retailers are able to offer a range of products and services to encourage customers to use cheaper, off-peak energy, including:

  • Flexible pricing
  • Critical peak pricing
  • In-home displays
  • Direct load control

Is there a down side to using smart meters?

Smart meters have the potential to be detrimental to consumers if retailers turn them into pre-payment meters rather than post-pay (in which you consume the energy and then get billed for it later, rather than having to pay before consuming the energy). Some consumers may prefer being pre-paid, however retailers may not give the household the option.

Smart meters can limit the amount of electricity that a house can consume in a certain time for example, three kilowatt hours over a 30 minute period.  This has the potential to be used to restrict energy to consumers with credit issues. (On the plus side, it could be used to restrict individual high-consuming households in order to prevent a blackout to a wider area.)

Remote disconnection can also be a negative or positive, depending on how it's used.

Smart meters have much to offer particularly if you're looking to manage your electricity consumption more carefully and save some dollars.

However, you need to do your homework to make sure smart meters make sense for you.

Contact Simon Caddy Electrical today by calling 0400 110081 for a no obligation consultation.

We service the Upper North Shore area including Hornsby, Wahroonga, Pymble, Turramurra, Killara, Lindfield, Roseville, Chatswood down to North Sydney.

Author: Simon Caddy Electrical
About: Simon Caddy Electrical is an experienced and qualified electrical company providing a wide range of services, including 24 hour, 7 day a week emergency response. Operating out of Hornsby we cover Sydney's North Shore, Northern Suburbs, Northern Beaches and parts of the Central Coast. We provide a vast range of electrical services to commercial, industrial and domestic clients in accordance with all relevant Australian standards.
Tags: Energy Efficiency Smart Devices Saving Power

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