Across Australia, smart meters are gradually taking the place of conventional electricity meters. Essentially, these modern systems offer a more efficient way for electricity retailers to measure the amount of electricity you use, but their advantages extend far beyond this basic function. They also provide electricity distributors with a wealth of real-time information about customers’ energy usage, while giving consumers more insight into their power consumption patterns.
Not sure if you should be using a smart meter? Already have one but are unsure of its exact purpose? Let’s take a more in-depth look at the specific benefits of smart meters and how they can help you save money on your power bill.
What are the different types of smart meters?
There are a number of different types of smart meters, and the exact model you have in your home will depend on your energy provider, state regulations and other factors. If you compare power meters, you may find some subtle differences, but in terms of functionality, they operate on a very similar concept.
How do they work? While there are some undoubtedly complex tasks taking place in your smart meter, the Victoria government’s Switch On initiative broke the process down into a few simple steps:
- Every 30 minutes, your smart meter records your household’s electricity consumption
- This information is sent to electricity distributors
- Your energy provider gives you access to this data through your in-home display or a web portal
Logging in online allows you to analyse your electricity consumption, which in turn enables you to adjust your behaviour and reduce usage – minimising utility costs.
Why use a smart energy meter?
The versatility and instantaneous nature of smart energy meters give these devices a competitive edge that traditional energy meters simply can’t measure up to. Specifically, the Australian government detailed a number of benefits to using smart meters, including:
Removing the need for meter readings
The core function of a smart meter is to transmit your household’s energy consumption levels to your electricity provider. This eliminates the need for periodic manual meter readings, which, according to the Victoria state government, typically cost around $25. A smart meter reading, on the other hand, costs approximately $5.
Communicating important updates to customers
It might surprise you to learn that your smart meter is also capable of acting as a simple communications device. Energy providers can send out public warnings about power outages in your area.
Identifying faults in the service
Thanks to your smart meter’s continuous two-way dialogue between your household and your energy retailer, it can also help your distributor quickly identify if there are any faults in the service. This minimises downtime and, in the event of a blackout, ensures your provider can get your power up and running again as quickly as possible.
Performing connections and disconnections
Smart meters can remotely perform some key tasks on behalf of your energy provider, such as disconnecting your electricity when you move out of your home, or reconnecting it when you relocate to another property.
Smart meters have the potential to not only save you money on your power bill but also improve the level of service your energy retailer can provide.