Traditionally, electricity and water meter consumption was measured via analogue meters. Utility billing was based on actual consumption units obtained from the meter by meter readers. This entailed physical visits to the metering point. Lots of challenges came with meter reading; talk of customers feeling their privacy is intruded, meter readers encountering hostile customers, dogs, closed gates. The result was estimated bills that were most often than not very high.
Smart meters can be dubbed as the “next generation” type of meters. Smart meters send wireless electronic meter readings to one’s energy supplier automatically. There are both gas smart meters and electricity smart meters. Smart meters come with in-home displays, which give someone real-time feedback on their energy usage and the associated cost.
Smart meters communicate meter readings directly to utility companies therefore no one has to come to your home to read your meter; and neither are you required to submit meter readings yourself. This not only reduces costs, but leads to more accurate electricity bills practically eliminating estimated bills. Smart meters signal the end of estimated bills, and the end of overpaying or underpaying for energy.
Whereas a smart meter in itself does not save you money, the add-ons (in-home displays) that come with the smart meters and which give someone real-time feedback on their energy usage helps them to reduce the unnecessary energy use and this ultimately leads to better oversight into how to lower utility bills hence better management of one’s energy use.
In summary, a smart meter is a technology that enables energy consumers to see their energy as they use it, a technology where energy is displayed as it is being used and wireless ratings sent. Adoption of smart meters would mean the end of estimated energy bills.
Smart meters are also promising a smart future where all energy consuming devices can be connected to the internet and centrally controlled using computers or smartphones. This means one is able to switch off lights and other energy consuming devices from a central point, hence make savings and this will enable them to have greater control of their energy use, hence more comfort, convenience and life will be cheaper for all. This is the smarter future we are all looking forward to.