Smart meters are the future of electricity meters. These are digital meters that give you an update of how much energy you use every 30 minutes.
So, are smart readers the go? The first great thing about them is that your electricity provider can access information around your energy usage remotely, meaning they won’t have to send a technician to visit your home or send you an estimated bill.
Smart meters also make it a lot easier for you to understand your electricity usage. Most people without smart meters have an accumulation meter, which keeps track of all the electricity you used since your meter was installed.
Keeping track of electricity usage with an accumulation meter means you’ll have to take note of your usage at the beginning and end of each month. This isn’t the most difficult process in the world, but smart meters certainly make things easier.
How to Get a Smart Meter
You can obtain a smart meter from your energy retailer most of the time. Having a faulty meter, or an energy plan that requires a smart meter, is usually a good enough reason for your supplier to provide you with a smart meter.
Smart meters are generally preferred for most energy companies since they take far less work to read. Since this is the case, most companies don’t charge too much for installation. Some will even include a smart meter with particular energy plans.
Of course, you should always shop around and compare smart meters to ensure you’re getting the best value for money. When a retailer does charge for the meter, it will appear on your next bill, or they might spread it out throughout your contract term.
The Benefits of Upgrading to a Smart Meter
There are several reasons you might want to switch to a smart meter. Most electricity retailers prefer them – some even require them – and they also have benefits for you, the customer.
Keeping Track of Your Usage
As we’ve mentioned, smart meters make it much easier to keep track of how much energy you’ve used during a billing cycle.
But in addition, using a smart meter can give you information about how you use electricity throughout the day. Some retailers will allow you to access your up-to-the-minute usage information on their online portal or mobile app.
Information like this allows you to understand when you’re using the most energy and take steps to limit your output. You might also come across energy-wasting habits that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. With this handy data at your fingertips, you can be more conscious of your habits and work towards becoming more energy efficient.
Finding out how much energy you’ve used also eliminates the “bill shock” that some people might experience. You’ll know what your bill is going to be before you receive it, so nothing will come as a surprise anymore.
If you have a smart meter installed, energy suppliers no longer have to send technicians to your home to get an accurate reading. Instead, they can do this remotely which drastically limits their costs.
Most suppliers will pass this savings onto you and charge you lower fees if you have a smart meter.
More Tariff Options
Choosing to upgrade to a smart meter gives you access to different energy tariffs you wouldn’t be able to access with a traditional meter. Some suppliers require you to have a smart meter for a time of use tariff, and there are upgraded tariffs that read your energy consumption more accurately.
Time of use tariffs, for those who don’t know, charge you different rates depending on when you use your energy. They have peak, controlled load, and shoulder hours.
The peak hours are the most expensive since the strain on the grid is the highest during these times. Controlled load hours are the least expensive, and shoulder hours (if they apply) are somewhere in between.
This tariff format doesn’t work for everyone, but those who use the majority of their energy during controlled load hours will be able to save some money.
Smart Meter Concerns
So, if smart meters come with all these benefits, you might be wondering why anyone is opposed to the idea of installing one.
There are a few reasons people might be unsure about making the switch. Privacy is a big one. It might not seem like it at first, but an energy company can tell a lot about you based on when you use the most power.
These companies can figure out your work schedule, sleeping habits, and even some of the appliances you’re using based on the energy they consume.
Another large concern is the security of the system. This concern is prevalent across all smart home technology. There’s always a chance that hackers will be able to infiltrate your system and possibly cut the electricity to a home – however rare or unlikely this may be.
Some people worry about the safety of smart meters, but there’s no tangible evidence to suggest they’re harmful to your health. After all, carrying cell phones in our pockets all day and being surrounded by wi-fi signals don’t seem to be much of a concern.