What Is a Smart Meter & Why Should I Care?

So… what exactly is a smart meter, and what’s all the hype around them?

Many of our clients have been notified by their electric provider that they’ll be replacing their existing meter with a new smart meter soon. Others have already had theirs installed. But one fact stays the same – what exactly a smart meter is why anyone should care gets lost in the fine print of the utility company notices. Well, buckle up because we’re about to shed some light on the brilliance of smart meters, especially if you’re rocking a solar-powered home.

The Basics: What’s a Smart Meter Anyway?

Imagine your old, clunky electricity meter got a digital makeover – that’s a smart meter! These nifty devices do way more than just measure your power usage. They’re like the superheroes of the energy world, bringing efficiency, cost savings, and a touch of futuristic flair to your home.

Remote Monitoring

Smart meters transmit data about energy consumption to the utility company in real-time. Gone are the days of manual meter readings. With real-time data on energy consumption, consumers can make informed decisions about their electricity usage. This information can help identify energy-intensive applications and behaviors, promoting energy conservation and efficiency.

Billing Accuracy

By eliminating the need for estimated bills and providing real-time data, smart meters contribute to more accurate billing. Consumers can also access their energy usage data online, allowing for better budgeting and awareness.

Quick Detection of Outages

Smart meters can quickly detect power outages and report them to the utility company. This allows for faster response times and more efficient restoration of service.

Integration with Smart Grids

Smart meters are a key component of smart grid systems. They enable better integration of renewable energy sources, demand response programs, and advanced monitoring and control of the electricity grid. If you’re in the dark about why it’s important to have more advanced monitoring and response programs, check out our other post on Grid Hardening to learn more.

Time of Use Turmoil

Ok, so here is where smart meters can be a double edged sword. While heralded as a cost saver, time of use rates can be tough for those homeowners that haven’t made the switch to solar power, and smart meters are what’s making it all possible. Traditional meters don’t discriminate when it comes to billing – you pay the same rate regardless of when you use electricity. But smart meters are the game-changers here. 

For the homeowners out there paying the traditional electric bill – this is one of the biggest boons of the last 20 years. If you aren’t up to speed on what time-of-use pricing is – it’s where your electric provider spikes your energy costs during peak demand times. A great example is Xcel, Colorado’s biggest utility provider. During the hours of 1-3pm Xcel is increasing rates, and then from 3-7pm they raise costs up even higher. It’s supposed to be a cost saver, but when you read the tips and tricks given directly by Xcel to realize actual savings, they talk about things like meal prepping over the weekend for the entire week so that you only have to reheat meals during peak hours. Most homeowners have busy schedules and can’t just adjust their lives to the whim of the electric provider’s fancy. So the intended cost saver in reality usually ends up driving prices so high on homeowners so quickly, it’s enough to give anyone whiplash. 

That being said, for solar-powered homes, time of use pricing is golden. Picture this: your solar panels are pumping out the most energy during those peak hours, and you’re using that energy while prices are sky-high. You pretty much create all of your own electricity when costs are highest, and once the sun goes down you’re using electricity provided from the grid at the time it’s the cheapest. It’s like having your own energy manager, helping you save green while going green.

How to Get Smart

Smart meters are becoming the new standard. They’re not just a trend; they’re the future of energy management. By embracing this technology, you’re positioning yourself at the forefront of a more sustainable and cost-effective energy landscape. For those of us rocking solar panels, they’re the Robin to our solar Batman. If you haven’t made the switch to renewable energy, schedule your free consultation today to see how you can take the power back into your own hands.