Over the past decade or so, there has been a movement to modernize our electricity grid so that devices throughout the network will be able to talk to each other in order to increase reliability, cut costs and boost energy efficiency. This is known as the smart grid, and one of its most important components is the smart meter.
What is a Smart Meter?
A smart meter is essentially a traditional electricity meter with a digital measurement device and the ability to communicate readings via the Internet. This means the electricity provider can track your energy usage instantly and bill you without having to send out meter readers. It also means you can easily track your own electricity usage in real-time.
Do I Have a Smart Meter?
While they are starting to roll our across the country, chances are you do not have a smart meter yet. The easiest way to check is to call your electricity provider and ask. If you do not have a smart meter yet, be sure to ask when they are planning on installing them in your area. Remember, the more consumer interest the provider hears, the sooner they will roll out smart electric meters in a particular neighborhood.
How Can I Monitor My Energy Usage With a Smart Meter?
If you currently have a smart meter, you have the power to boost your energy efficiency and lower your electricity bill. Besides the power meter itself, you’ll also need some software to monitor the data produced by the electric meter. Luckily, there are lots of free utilities out there for this, such as Google’s PowerMeter and Microsoft’s Hohm.
Once you have your software set up, you’ll be able to:
- See when you use the most electricity – You’ll be able to see your usage on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis so you can see not only how your usage changes month to month, but how it changes during a given day.
- Predict your monthly costs – Instead of getting a nasty surprise at the end of the month, you’ll have a very good idea how much your electricity bill will be before it shows up.
- Cut your usage and lower your bill – When you can see exactly how much energy you are using, you can get instant feedback on any changes you make. Increasing efficiency and cutting waste becomes a satisfying game.
Can I Still Monitor My Energy Usage If I Don’t Have a Smart Meter Yet?
If you do not yet have a smart meter at your home, you still have options to keep track of your electricity use. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use Google’s PowerMeter software with a TED energy management device.