With the advent of technology and the burgeoning need for something to be done about global warming, many households are looking for ways to participate in sustainability efforts and reduce energy consumption. Knowing more about how and when consumption takes place allows residents to monitor the energy consumption, and the implementation of other options for automated or manual control of the loads within the household. All this represents an effort to use energy more sparingly and shift demand in line with the environment's rising requirements.
Smart home energy systems can include smart meters, for electricity, water, gas and thermal energy. Besides helping the environment, however, you may be asking yourself, how can homeowners benefit from smart meters? Hopefully, this brief guide will provide you with an answer to that question.
How do smart meters work?
Smart meters are digital meters that measure the electricity, gas, and water consumption of your household. They are part of the smart energy management systems whose main aim is to improve the grid's reliability and increase the data points. These systems allow the consumer to rely on the energy from the grid, while also being able to switch to renewable energy sources if appropriate.
Smart meters send out the information about your consumption. Unlike more traditional meters, they do not require a reader to come in every three months and note down the data. They measure consumption and typically send regular reports to the meter service provider.
What are the benefits of smart meters?
Information in real-time
Depending on the meter and the meter service provider, you might be able to see information about your energy consumption as frequently as every 15 minutes. This can be very useful in many situations, especially if you are considering downsizing your home. You might be able to go online and see patterns in your use of electricity. Some websites even compare it to temperatures or even itemize the list so you can tell which appliances are the biggest consumers.
You can take this information and make appropriate adjustments to downsize your home. Perhaps you will opt for investing in more energy-saving appliances, or you will install new windows or doors to make your home more energy-efficient no matter the weather. In general, research shows that people are likely to save energy the more they know about their own use. Essentially, they are less likely to be wasteful.
However, there are certain conditions for being able to rely on this information. The data collected at 15-minute intervals is limited to electric energy consumption, and even then, it is not a given. Smart meters that measure the consumption of gas and water report once a day in most cases. Furthermore, the information might not be available to you, or at least not for free. If your meter service provider is sufficiently automated and modernized, you will probably be able to request access to this information. Sometimes, however, even jurisdiction can come into play.
Besides providing you with information on your energy, gas, and water consumption, smart meters can also send information to your phone when the power in your home is out and then again when it is restored.
Another way in which homeowners can benefit from smart meters is the accuracy and transparency of information. The fact that your utility providers get frequent and accurate readings, and you can check them at any time, makes this system very transparent.
Without access to this information, you had to rely on a person to read your meter accurately. The processes of automation and modernization closed the space for any suspicious actions on the utility company's part. Even if you got lucky and never had any negative experiences with this, you still had to find the time out of your day to stay home and be there when the meter reader comes every few months.
Essentially, the main benefits of smart meters are all about control. A straightforward way homeowners can benefit from smart meters is that they can easily and automatically shut off gas, water, or electricity when you move. It saves you and the utility companies from setting up an appointment or three.
Furthermore, another big question is: Can smart meters really help homeowners save energy? Many people worry about the environment and are tired of waiting for changes to sweep through their communities. They already want to do their part. The short answer to the question is yes, and here's how.
Firstly, having more information about your own household's consumption allows you to adjust your habits and use energy, water, and gas accordingly. For example, you can program your heating or cooling system to turn on when you're home and switch off whenever you aren't. Sensors are also parts of smart home energy management and are most often used with lights.
Secondly, installing a smart meter is the first step one must take to establish a smart grid. Smart grids allow all consumers to use renewable energy when available without actually having to install solar panels on the roof. Rural areas with solar or wind energy farms are able to send that energy through the grid and reach distant consumers.
Besides being environmentally friendly, smart grids are also safer. When the demand is high, the smart grid can even out the electricity distribution through demand response programs. This will reduce the pressure on the system.
So, how can homeowners benefit from smart meters? Mainly, they will have more control over the quantity and the quality of the energy that they use, and the time when they use it. The more you know about your own consumption, the better you will be able to make adjustments and control it. Smart meters also allow you to make more significant strides towards energy efficiency and a more eco-conscious way of living.