With an increased influence of technology on our lives, monitoring the usage of resources has become the need of the hour. Dependency on electronics, internet and other appliances for an easier life has escalated in the last few decades.
We constantly keep switching between different appliances and devices according to our needs without knowing as to how much of our energy is utilized by them. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ but not when you have to pay for it. It is important for us to know how the electricity in our house, office or building is being used.
Hence to keep a wise check on the rising demands, a Smart meter comes into the picture.
What is a Smart meter?
A smart meter is an Internet-capable electronic device that measures energy, water or natural gas consumption of a building or home.
It records the consumption of electric energy and communicates the information to the electricity supplier for monitoring and billing. Smart meters record energy and report hourly or at least daily. This enables you to monitor your consumption more precisely so you can make more informed energy choices.
Where traditional meters only measure total consumption, smart meters record when and how much of a resource is consumed. Power companies are deploying smart meters to monitor consumer usage and adjust prices according to the time of day and season.
How does a Smart meter help?
When connected to a building automation system, a smart meter will allow the building administrator to control heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) based on the energy costs.
Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Such an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) differs from automatic meter reading (AMR), In that, it enables two-way communication between the meter and the supplier.
Other than measuring the electricity, it also involves:
- Real-time or near real-time sensors
- Power Outage notification – informing about a short-term or a long-term loss of the electric power to a particular area.
- Power Quality monitoring
Benefits of a Smart meter
- No estimated bills: Smart meters send us readings automatically, so you can expect your bills to be accurate and up-to-date.
- Save energy: Tracking how much energy you’re using can help regulate the use of appliances in the house when the consumption hikes. One can check the usage of energy before and after using a particular appliance.
- Saves money: Since the usage of energy is monitored at all times, it helps keep the bills in control.
- Electricity pricing: Higher electricity pricing for peak times encourages consumers to pay more attention to their consumption habits and be more responsive to market prices.
- In-home display: Everyone who installs smart meters also gets an ‘in-home display’ to keep an eye on the usage at all times.
Security: As the supply of information happens through a wireless network, there are more chances of data getting invaded and misused, like cutting off people’s electricity or overloading the grid.
Health and Safety: There have been speculations about the wireless smart meters emitting pulsed radiofrequency (RF) causing headache, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, palpitations, etc.
Privacy: The meters give detailed data about the usage of the electricity on an hourly basis. Such frequent reports to the utility company might give out the behavioural patterns of the occupants. This can be a cause of concern for the users.
Smart meters are one of the many digital technologies paving their way into the smart home tech. With technologies like smart homes and smart cities, we are developing in a way to create ideal spaces to work and live in. Smart meters can help us with that.