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Why is a smart meter important for your home?

By Jeff Cocking

Energy meters—also called electricity meters—track a home’s power consumption. Electricity companies rely on readings from these meters to calculate each customer’s monthly electricity bills. So, why do smart meters matter?

With traditional meters, power company employees either have to walk up to each home to record the number or use an electronic device that reads each meter from their vehicle. Either way, these readings don’t offer much insight. They only show how much energy you’ve used during the month, so your energy provider can only use one rate to calculate how much you owe.

If you’re looking to lower your energy bills, these meters don’t provide you with much insight, either. You can start by making sure you have an energy plan with affordable rates, and Power Wizard can help. Another way to start saving on your energy costs is by considering the installation of a Texas smart meter.

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is a new type of electricity meter. It tracks your home’s consumption in real time and uses two-way communications to share that data directly with your energy provider. The device typically does this in short intervals, eliminating the need for manual readings. It’s a vital component of establishing smart grids.

Smart meters give energy providers a more detailed picture of their customers’ daily electricity usage. That information makes it possible for them to offer additional plans, such as time-of-use and pre-paid options. Energy providers can connect homes remotely, allowing for same or next-day service, disconnect power remotely, and even receive instant alerts if there’s a power outage.

Are you thinking of having a smart meter installed or removed at your house? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.

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The advantages of smart meter installation in your home

Smart meters come with several significant benefits, some of which we touched on briefly above. More plan options, same-day power connections, and instant power outage alerts are just the beginning. Here are a few additional advantages to keep in mind:

1. Ability to track and monitor energy consumption in your home

With a smart meter, your energy provider isn’t the only one who can track and monitor your energy usage. You can access the information, too. What’s more, you won’t have to go outside to check your meter to do it.

Many smart meters come with in-home display (IHD) units, which customers can place in any convenient location. The IHD unit shows you how much electricity you’re using in real time. You can also use an online account to track your energy consumption, view meter data analytics, estimate future usage, and preview your costs. A smart meter can even provide high-usage alerts. These alerts let you know if you’re using more energy than usual or approaching a specific energy amount.

In Texas, Smart Meter Texas is the online account system to track your energy consumption.

2. Ensures that your energy costs are accurate

With traditional meters, energy providers sometimes need to estimate electricity consumption. For instance, the utility company can’t read your meter and therefore can’t submit the information to your energy provider. Unfortunately, these estimates are often inaccurate. As a result, your energy provider can end up overcharging — or undercharging — you when it comes time to calculate your bill.

Smart meters avoid the need to guess your electricity consumption and generate estimated bills. They share your real-time usage with the utility company, ensuring that they always have the most accurate information. In turn, your energy provider can bill you correctly.

What if your energy costs are accurate, but your bills are still too expensive? It may be time to look at your electricity plan. High rates or excessive hidden fees can keep you spending more than necessary for the power you use. Rather than continuing to pay too much for electricity, you can use Power Wizard to find a more suitable and affordable plan.

3. You don’t have to manually submit a meter reading

While utility companies generally send meter readers to check standard meters, there may be times when you need to submit your own readings. For example, you might need to do this if you need to dispute your electricity bill.

A smart meter in Texas shares your energy consumption data directly with your power company. There’s no need for you to submit any manual readings yourself because the meter takes care of the task for you. Because your meter transmits the information periodically—typically every 15 to 30 minutes—there’s also no need for anyone to come to your house to perform manual readings.

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4. Helps you identify which appliances are contributing the most to electricity usage

An energy plan with a low fixed rate and no hidden fees is one way to help lower your energy expenses, but it’s far from the only one. Reducing your home’s overall energy consumption and improving its energy efficiency offer another solution. The question is, how do you know which appliances are to blame for high energy bills?

While a smart meter can’t pinpoint the specific devices using the most energy in your home, it can still help you identify them. Every time you use an appliance, you can watch for increases in your electricity consumption using your IHD unit. Keeping a close eye on your IHD unit or online account can also make you aware of sudden spikes in energy usage. Noticing the issue sooner allows you to take action right away. You can locate the cause and fix it before it has a chance to impact your energy bills significantly.

Disadvantages of smart electric meters

An electric smart meter might have some distinct benefits, but it also has a few disadvantages you’ll want to keep in mind, too:

1. My house does not have a smart meter

While smart meters are becoming more common, not every energy consumer has one. Some states, like Texas and Florida, have aggressively implemented smart meters. If your home does not have a smart meter, contact your local TDU and request one to be installed.

If you live in an area that does not support smart meters, there are third party devices that can be purchased to provide smart meter like data.

2. Reducing your electricity consumption is in your hands

Again, a smart meter can make you aware of sudden spikes in your energy consumption, but it can’t tell you the cause. Narrowing down the cause is in your hands. That may require you to turn various appliances on and off while watching your smart meter. Then, once you find the offending device, you’re responsible for fixing it to reduce your energy consumption. That may involve scheduling repairs with a professional or replacing the appliance altogether.

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How you can ensure meter accuracy

Smart meters undergo rigorous testing to ensure their accuracy. Studies have shown them to be more precise than their standard counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t experience an issue that throws off their calibration or results in inaccurate readings.

If you’re concerned about the accuracy of your smart meter, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Take note of the usage reading on your smart meter. Turn on an appliance and look at the unit again. Subtract the new reading from the previous one and compare the difference to the device’s wattage.
  • Contact your utility company and request a smart meter verification. They can use a diagnostic tool to make sure your meter is working correctly.

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Monitor your energy usage in real-time

If you’re looking to take control of your home’s energy usage, a smart meter offers an excellent solution. You can keep better track of your electricity consumption, make noticeable differences in your consumption, and learn of potential issues before they have a significant impact on your monthly costs.

Making sure you have the right energy plan can also play a role in reducing your electricity bills. Let Power Wizard help. With some basic information, we can show you the best plans based on your unique needs. We strive to protect you from gimmicks and hidden fees, which can help you avoid surprises when your bills arrive. Visit Power Wizard to get started today!

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