Smart meters and home management systems are working together to give people access to information about their energy consumption that’s as close to real time as possible.
A smart meter, also called a digital meter, measures the amount of electricity used at your home or business over short intervals. Unlike a traditional electricity meter, which needs to be read manually through a site visit (and can only provide one reading for all the energy consumed since the last site visit) smart meters offer half-hourly data more frequently.
The reading is then remotely sent to energy distributors and retailers every day, and can be viewed online using desktop or mobile devices – making it much easier to monitor and control electricity usage.
What makes smart meters so smart?
Ask anyone who’s already had a smart meter installed – they aren’t just benefiting from lots of data which helps them keep track of their energy usage. They’re also enjoying all kinds of benefits that aren’t available with a traditional electricity meter.
Because data is remotely transmitted to the retail or distribution company automatically, there’s no need for a person to visit your property to read the meter. Smart meters provide actual data on a daily basis as well, rather than quarterly bills – so you have better information about how much you’ll have to pay every three months. If you’re budgeting, this can really come in handy. And because smart meters can be managed remotely, connections and disconnections are faster as well.
Smart homes and smart electricity grids
Smart meters aren’t the only innovations making their way into Australian homes. Home management systems – which control smart appliances remotely – are also becoming more common. Smart meters and home management systems can potentially connect with the ‘smart grid’ to give customers access to information about their energy consumption that’s as close to real time as possible.
Smart grids bring computer technology to the electricity grid, digitally connecting energy retailers, distributors and customers.
Do I have a smart meter? If not, how can I get one?
If you live in Victoria, you should already have a smart meter, which was installed by your distributor around 6 years ago.
If you’re building a new property, the meter that will be installed will be smart meter.
Smart meter technology around the world
After being valued at approximately $A5.2 billion in 2011, the global smart meter market has continued to grow – and is expected to be worth an estimated $A26 billion by 2018. As more countries adopt the technology, it’s estimated there will be 131 million smart meter units worldwide by 2018.
Right now, North America, Europe and eastern Asia have the largest markets in the world. Some countries have even passed legislation mandating the implementation of smart meters as part of broader clean energy initiatives. In Australia, there’s no mandated rollout (apart from Victoria) – with customers only having to switch to smart meters if they are building a new property or their existing meter is faulty or aging and needs replacing.
- A $A21.2 million program will provide 3 million smart electric meters in the UK.
- Member states of the EU will provide smart meters to 80 per cent of their electricity consumers.
- The Chinese government will deploy up to 380 million meters.
- France will spend $A19.7 billion on digital infrastructure, with an allocation for 35 million meters.
- Global Market for Smart Electricity Meters: Government Policies Driving Strong Growth report
- Queensland Government article on ‘Digital meters’
- NSW Government ‘FAQs on Smart Meters’