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Smart Meters: How Will They Impact Your Electricity Usage

April 26, 2010

Unless there is a new and more efficient way of generating really cheap electricity, the consumers should be more vigilant and efficient in their use of electricity or where ever they may be — including implementing ways to save energy and cut costs as well as reducing the carbon footprint to help protect the environment. One such innovation that is slowly being implemented is the use of smart meters. What are Smart Meters and How Do they Work? Smart meters or what is more technically known as the Advanced Metering Infrastructure or AMI is a technical advancement evolving from the electromechanical meters or the more updated automated meter reading (AMR) technologies used by electricity companies today. It is expected that within 3 to 5 years, AMI meters shall replace all installed electromechanical meters. With electromagnetically meters, data concerning the end user’s electrical consumption is “read” and recorded by meter-reading technicians from the electricity company. With smart meters, this data is transmitted and reported every 15-30 minutes to the electric company, giving both the end user and electric company a visibility of how they consume electricity at particular times of the day. Aside from that, these smart meters can report power outages to the service company as soon as it happens, resulting to better and faster response times. These meters are also more technically advanced than old electromagnetically meters making it more difficult to tamper and steal electricity. These meters can also be turned on and off by remote, which is a good feature should the end user leaves the home for a certain period for whatever matter. How Will Smart Meters Influence How Consumers Use Electricity?   The primary purpose of smart meters is to provide information on how end users use their electricity on a real-time basis. Armed with this knowledge, consumers can have more control on the trend of their electrical usage — on an hourly basis — which would eventually affect their electricity bills. Users can now control which particular appliances can be used efficiently at a particular time as well as taking advantage of the time-of-use rate features that will be implemented. If integrated with a home network, users and eventually the electric companies can communicate with appliances remotely turning them on or off more efficiently particularly during peak periods. This will result in reduced electrical costs due to more efficient usage — equivalent to almost 10 percent reduction in energy consumption. Smart meters can also address the growing problem of unpaid bills and customers changing from one company to another just to avoid disconnection. This added risk for electric companies is also one of the primary reasons why electrical prizes have not gone down as expected with energy deregulation. Prepaid meters are currently being contemplated by some Texas electric companies in this regard. With less risk due to its prepaid mode, these smart meters can result in a significant 20 to 40 percent reduction in costs as projected by these electric companies. Taking advantage of the smart meter’s capability of monitoring the end user’s electrical consumption on an hourly basis can create more awareness for the populace, resulting in more efficient use of technology, giving the consumers options for cheap electricity and protecting the environment at the same time.

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