What is a Smart Meter?
A smart meter is a digital device that records energy consumption data of a building and relays the data to a local utility. Smart meters record data on a much more frequent schedule than analog meters. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) states that smart meters record and send electricity usage data to both utility and utility customers every 15 minutes to an hour. Utilities in the United States backhaul the data three times per day and use the insights for load forecasting, customer billing and system forensics.
Most commercial and industrial settings use advanced smart meters with capabilities such as integrated data processing and in-built two-way communication that can record and transmit smart energy data instantaneously.
The smart meter market in the United States has been growing due, in large part, to government regulations and increased awareness among people about energy efficiency, and the coronavirus pandemic over the last couple of years.
According to EIA, there were over 102.9 million advanced (smart) metering infrastructure (AMI) installations in the United States as of November 2020. Eighty-eight percent of these installations were residential. By 2025, estimates indicate that the country will have over 153.8 million smart meter installations.
In this article, we’ll review the advantages of smart meters and explain how smart meters work to help reduce energy consumption.
The Advantages of Smart Meters Over Analog Meters
Smart meters outperform analog meters in precision, ease of use and accuracy. A few major differences between smart meters and analog meters are:
|Smart Meters||Analog Meters|
|1. An average consumer can easily read and understand energy usage information.|
2. Smart meters are interactive and multifunctional; they record daily measures of electricity usage by the kilowatt-hour.
3. Smart meters help customers better control their energy consumption.
|1. It is difficult for an average consumer to read analog meters.|
2. Analog meters are non-interactive; they can only provide data on how much energy has been used since the last billing date.
3. With analog meters, you may not be able to make informed decisions on how to reduce energy bills.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the benefits of smart meters below.
No more submitting meter readings to energy suppliers
With analog electric meters, you must submit the meter reading to the utility or local aggregator at the end of the billing cycle to generate the bill. However, this isn’t the case with smart meters. By sending energy consumption details to the local aggregator every 15 minutes, smart meters can help you avoid the hassle of submitting meter readings at the end of each billing cycle.
No more estimated bills
People often feel anxious when they receive an estimated energy usage bill from an electric utility supplier. With traditional meters, tenants often receive estimated bills.
You can easily avoid estimated bills by installing smart meters with capabilities such as integrated data processing and built-in two-way communication. Since smart meters can record and transmit data instantaneously without any manual interference, they can help you say goodbye to estimated bills.
Improved energy efficiency
Energy efficiency improves when people understand their consumption behavior. With the rollout of smart meters, tenants and building teams can now be accurately informed of their utility consumption. Since smart meters track energy utilization accurately at any time of day, it is easier to analyze energy consumption patterns and take energy-saving initiatives.
The United States energy sector reported 40% lower carbon emissions in 2020 than in 2005; this wouldn’t have been possible without advanced metering installation across the country. Lower carbon emissions in the energy sector reflect improved energy efficiency across the residential, commercial, and industrial settings.
How to Reduce Energy Consumption with Smart Meters
Smart meters have become highly popular because of their ability to track energy usage, reduce energy consumption, and minimize energy costs. With the help of smart meter data, you will be able to identify your highest consumption hours and use energy when it is cheaper.
Identify your highest consumption hours
Smart meters can help you achieve better energy efficiency by providing real-time insights about energy consumption. With the help of this energy consumption data, you can classify a day into peak hours, off-peak hours, and moderate demand hours.
If you can analyze the real cause for an increase in energy consumption during peak hours at your offices, you can help those using your office space to make appropriate decisions such as:
- Switching off unnecessary appliances not in use.
- Spreading the energy use of appliances by scheduling a few of them during off-peak hours.
- Disposing of appliances that may consume higher energy or replacing them with energy-efficient appliances.
- Using a wifi-enabled thermostat that regulates the temperature and deactivates air conditioners when no one is in the office.
Use energy when it is cheaper
Electric companies in the United States are offering flexible pricing plans, time-of-use tariffs, and rebates that incentivize energy consumption during off-peak hours. If you have a smart meter, you can monitor the energy consumption on an hourly basis and choose an appropriate plan that reduces the electricity bill.
For instance, many utility companies in states such as Texas and California offer free nights and weekends plans that charge nothing for the electricity consumption between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM, but a higher tariff for day-time consumption.
If you notice that your offices are being used more frequently during nights and weekends, you can opt for a free nights and weekends plan that significantly reduces your electricity bill.
When you opt for a flexible pricing plan, you must ensure that all non-essential energy appliances in your house run during the low-tariff timeframes to reduce energy consumption costs.
Account for All Your Utility Usage with Genea Submeter Billing
Installing a smart meter is the solution for all your worries related to manual meter readings, estimated bills, and poor energy efficiency. You can reduce the energy costs significantly if you track the energy consumption and make informed decisions about how and when the energy should be used. Since smart meters emit radio-frequency radiation just like cell phones, you should use only smart meters that meet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standards.
Genea’s cloud-based, automated submeter billing software may be the right choice for you if you want to streamline submeter reading and billing in a residential and commercial building. You can integrate Genea’s software with your existing networked and non-networked utility meters such as gas meters, electric meters, and water meters and eliminate expensive installation costs.
Leaders across various industries including real estate, property management, and asset management use Genea’s Submeter Billing Software for the following reasons:
- It eliminates the costly errors that usually happen due to the mistakes of a manual meter reader.
- It removes the guesswork of submetering and generates invoices for an accurate billable amount to tenants.
- It helps tenants to understand their energy consumption behavior and enables them to make informed decisions.
- It forecasts the energy consumption by automatically calculating the future energy estimates.
Learn how Genea’s Submeter Billing Software can automate and streamline your submeter reading and billing.