What is a smart meter?

Average customer rating: 4.3/5
Written by Tiana Lee-Collins
Reviewed by Meredith O'Brien
Updated 2 April, 2024

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is a power-monitoring device that replaces traditional electricity meters and provides you (and your energy retailer) with insight into your energy consumption.

Smart meters record and send energy usage information data in half-hourly blocks to your energy provider to measure the amount of electricity you use.

These digital meters (also known as type 4 meters or advanced interval meters) can do more than track your power usage. They can:

  • Allow you to take advantage of solar power systemssolar feed-in tariffs and solar battery storage options
  • Remotely turn electricity supply on or off
  • Measure the power quality at your home
  • Notify distributors (the companies responsible for maintaining infrastructure such as power lines and electricity poles) of power cuts
  • Enable actual meter reads each billing cycle rather than an estimate, so you’re paying for your actual usage.

There are also other meters available that aren’t smart meters. For example, basic meters only record data every 3 months. Type 5 meters can still record half-hourly data but can’t do things that type 4 or advanced meters can do (such as send the data to the distributors) and a meter reader is required to download the data from the meter.

Expert tips for making the most out of your smart meter

If you have a smart meter, or are looking at getting one installed, you may be able to use it to access certain tariffs and better manage your energy so you can save on electricity bills. Our Head of Energy, Meredith O’Brien, has some tips on helping you get the most of your smart meter.

Meredith O'Brien
Head of Energy

Track your energy usage

Sign up to your provider’s online account or app to view your smart meter data. By doing so, you’ll be able to see what times of the day and days of the week you’re using the most energy and make changes to ensure you aren’t wasting energy.

Take advantage of time-of-use tariffs

With a smart meter, you may be able to take advantage of flexible pricing with time-of-use tariffs. Check with your electricity retailer on whether you can shift this usage to off-peak times to save on costs or compare electricity retailers to search for one where you can. With this, you’ll also need to change your energy habits to ensure that you use most of your electricity during off peak or shoulder periods. Otherwise, this can be more expensive if you only use the bulk of electricity during peak periods.

Control your usage with smart devices

You can use your smart meter to connect to smart devices in your home. You may be able to remotely power our smart devices and time them, so they only operate when you need them to, helping you lower your energy use.

Understanding smart meters

How does a smart meter work?

Am I eligible for a smart meter and how do I get one?

How much does a smart meter cost?

How can smart meters save me money?

Benefits to using a smart meter

Reduce the need for manual meter readings

Communicate important updates to customers

Identify outages and faults in the service

Perform connections and disconnections when moving

Monitor your energy

Time your smart appliances

Managing your smart meter

How do I read a smart meter?

What does a smart meter look like?

Meet our energy expert, Meredith O’Brien

Meredith O'Brien
Head of Energy

As the Head of Energy at Compare the Market, Meredith O’Brien believes in educating Australian customers about the everchanging gas and electricity market so they can adjust their energy usage habits and get the most out of their energy plans.

Meredith has six years within the energy industry, following 15 years of experience in financial services and is currently studying a Master of Business Administration. Meredith is a dedicated customer advocate who is passionate about empowering Australians to find the right products to suit their needs by removing the confusion from comparing.

1 Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC). Review of the regulatory framework for metering services. Published August 2023. Accessed October 2023.

2 Victorian State Government: Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Smart meters. Last updated September 2022. Accessed October 2023.

3 Australian Government: Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. Smart meters and health. Accessed October 2023.