Understanding Smart Meters

By Joshua Chadwick September 20th

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We all hear about the greatest advancements in the modern era, but one in development in the energy field that doesn’t get mentioned enough is smart meters (no, we’re not talking about meters with thick glasses on their head).

There’s a reason why the homes and businesses of Victoria have already opted for these clever pieces of tech, so what is the reason exactly to move from the current meter to the new meter technology?

In this article, we’ll dissect everything there is to know about smart meters, from energy use, meter readings, rollout and how they’re an improvement from the old electricity meters.

For more information on electricity meters, check out our article about them here!

What Is A Smart Meter?

Smart meters (or advanced meters to some) are devices that measure your energy usage (electricity usage) digitally. This is measured per kWh every 30 minutes, which is then sent back to your electricity distributor which will be tallied up with your monthly electricity bill.

Through this digital meter, the need for a meter reader to enter the premises to manually read the usage data is cut out, as the pricing and usage are all measured online.

Additional benefits the smart meter has over traditional meters are the ability to remotely switch the electricity supply on or off without involving a metering service, as well as measuring power quality and alerting the electricity retailer about power outages.

Why Use A Smart Meter?

Aside from the benefits mentioned above, smart meters provide an overall benefit of flexibility, allowing you to take control of your electricity use and look at your energy bills before the statement arises at the end of the month.

This extra control includes a more detailed view of information about your regular energy use, which can be used to gain a better understanding of your usage per minute intervals and adjust accordingly. The adjustment could be anything from easing up on your energy consumption during off-peak hours or even shopping around suppliers to get the best electricity pricing in your area.

Speaking of suppliers, energy retailers will then be able to offer more innovative products and services with a new smart meter installed. These services can include energy management apps that allow an in-home display of your energy consumption, and online access to real-time information about your usage patterns.

The additional smart meter data also allows energy distributors to detect outages in the area, allowing the distributor to minimise the time and number of supply outages, as well as adjust your estimated bill to a lesser degree due to these issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Your energy retailer will install a new smart meter once your current meter is deemed faulty or is no longer working. Smart meter installation can also be arranged before your current meter runs out of juice, which will cost approximately $600 but can be fronted by retailers on behalf of their customers.

Traditional meters are no longer being distributed in most jurisdictions under the Power of Choice Reforms in 2017. This means all new meters in Australia must be digital or smart meters, but old meters still remain.

Australian states like NSW and QLD will need to switch their old meter over once it breaks, whilst Victorian households should already be equipped with a smart meter, as the new meters are mandatory across the state.

In short, yes. All smart meters are installed according to Australian Standards.

These standards have been developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), complying with electromagnetic exposure limits that are measured for several pieces of technology (like mobile phones and wi-fi routers).

Installing a smart meter will interrupt your electricity supply for a short time. Your retailer is required to give you at least 4 business days’ notice prior to installation to prep for the supply interruption.

This notice will include the date of installation as well as the time and length of supply interruption. A 24-hour telephone number will also be provided for any enquiries needed.

No. Under the National Electricity Law and the Privacy Act 1988, energy data and personal information are protected and banned from being used for sales or marketing purposes.

Quite the opposite. Smart meters allow the energy retailer to lower upfront operating costs and offer flexible pricing due to the data gained from time-of-use (emissions per time of the day).

Be sure to contact your retailer to determine how they will charge you for a new meter, whether it will be provided as a lump sum in the next bill or if a monthly fee will be added. Retailers fronting the rollout of the meter may also disclose upfront costs for said tariff.

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Joshua Chadwick
Joshua Chadwick