What is a Smart Meter?


In the continuously digital world, adding a smart meter to your home is a great next step. Or just curious about what they are! This complete guide was made just for you to help you better understand the use, benefits, and cons of a smart electricity meter. While these new types of energy readers won’t lower your energy bill, they can still be beneficial. Our complete guides are designed to help you on your guide to save money, lower your carbon footprint, and make your life with energy easier! So let’s dive into what is a smart meter and why they are becoming more popular.

Here at The Energy Professor, we want to give you the information you need to not only save money on your energy bill but to also become more energy efficient. We hope find this post helpful! It makes it easier for you to know more about smart electric meters. Be sure to also check out our one-of-a-kind energy savings calculator!

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What is a Smart Meter?


Smart meters are digital electric meters that read personal energy consumption from your home or business. A digital electric meter is a meter that can send your energy usage directly to your utility company. Like a traditional house electric meter, your new smart meter is attached to your house and requires little to no maintenance. This device won’t tell you what’s using the most electricity in your home, but it can do a slue of other things that make your life easier! With a smart energy reader, you can have access to real-time energy usage. Most units update every 15 minutes but some can update once every hour. Your smart meter can also report power outages faster and result in a quicker response time when restoring your energy.

What Does a Smart Meter Look Like?

  • Smart meters typically have a white or gray face with a digital LCD screen. The display will also read the amount of kWh used and sometimes convey the time.

To know if you have a traditional smart meter, simply look at the display. If the LED screen is on the front face of your meter, it’s electronic! All traditional energy readers have dials like an analog clock. There will also be an energy reader who comes out to manually read your meter. This is not necessary with an electric smart meter. It’s also worth looking into your local government energy programs to see if a smart electric meter can be added to your home. There are state programs that offer installing a smart meter to help energy providers run more efficient businesses.

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How Can You Save Energy with a Smart Meter?


A smart meter may be helpful in a lot of ways. But a saving energy device is not one of them. You do not directly save energy by switching to a smart power meter. With that being said, you can however track your energy consumption much more conveniently than with traditional analog meters. This makes making changes in your daily life and seeing them reflected almost instantly! This is a great way to see what works and doesn’t work to your benefit when looking to save energy. We find an electricity smart meter is also helpful by tracking how much energy daily tasks consume.

For example: Begin to record how many kWh are used before and after you do laundry. Then change up when or how much laundry you do and record those kWhs as well. By doing this, you can see which way of doing laundry has the biggest impact on your wallet.

How to Track Usage on Your Smart Electricity Meter

  • The easiest way to monitor your energy usage is to have an in-home display (IHD) device connected to your meter. An IDH is a small, in-home device that displays the usage of your smart electrical meter.

One of the biggest benefits of switching to a smart energy meter is the ability to track your usage. Using an IDH can make it simple to track usage by having the device in your home and making it no longer necessary to go outside to track your usage manually. The digital face on the IDH and the smart meter reader display up-to-date information on the energy you’ve used. Typically this information is updated every 15 minutes. But depending on the type, brand, and model you have, it may update every hour.

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What’s the Downside of Using a Smart Meter?


In 2011, US energy providers started rolling out electric smart meters. With this rollout, like most new technology, it came with waves of worry. From misinformation to data tracking rumors, smart meters have become a hot topic for many social debates. One major issue consumers have with smart electric meters is that they have been known to catch fire. It is important to note that millions of smart meters have been installed throughout the US and very few have caught fire. Experts believe that these fires have started due to faulty meter panels on the home and not the smart meter itself. The leading theory is that when utility workers pull off the old meters, they sometimes jar a defective part of the meter base. Since it’s not working properly, it overheats and has caused some instances of house fires.

Downsides of Smart Electric Meters

  • Known to cause fires
  • Low levels of radiation
  • Additional fees through your energy provider
  • Privacy Concerns
  • Anxiety over how much energy you use

Although there are doubt and opt-out options, the US has still seen a large amount of digital electric meter installations. According to US Energy Administration Information, as of 2021, there are a recorded 111 million advanced (smart) metering infrastructure (AMI) installations, equal to about 69% of total electric meter installations. Residential customers accounted for about 88% of total AMI installations, and about 69% of total residential electric meters were AMI meters. 

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Smart Meter vs. Regular Meter


Knowing the difference between traditional and digital smart meters is also knowing what is a smart meter for electricity. A traditional meter for electricity requires an employee from your utility provider to come out and physically record the usage displayed on the front of the meter. A smart meter is very similar to the traditional meter on your home in that it measures and records energy consumption data. However, the smart meter differs because it’s a digital device that can communicate remotely with your utility provider. It will send your consumption information to your utility every 15 minutes to one hour and eliminates the need for a meter reader.

Smart Meter vs Regular Meter: Which is Better?

  • Smart meters are better than normal meters. This is simply true based on the fact you no longer will have estimated energy usage. The smart meter provides exact data directly to your entry provider.

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What is a Smart Meter FAQ

Q: Are Smart Meters Free?

A: Yes! Smart meters are installed for free as part of a government program. However, the cost of their installation is essentially absorbed into everybody’s energy bill. This is why consumers can opt out of switching the type of meter their home uses.

Q: Are Smart Meters Required?

A: No, there is no requirement to install a smart meter. But local government roll-outs mean that homes in the US will be offered a smart meter by the end of 2025. Whether you’re a homeowner, or tenant or have a prepaid meter, your energy supplier is responsible for providing and installing a smart meter for you. If you’d rather not have one, don’t worry, you’re under no obligation to have one installed.

Q: How do Smart Meters Work?

A: These electric meters automatically track your energy usage. The usage is then sent to your energy supplier via a dedicated network just for smart meters.

Q: Are Smart Meters Secure?

A: Smart meters have their own secure, wireless network and don’t use the internet. There are also strict laws in place that prohibit energy suppliers from passing on information to third parties without the customer’s permission. Personal details like your name and address aren’t stored on your smart meter. The information collected by your meter is only used to calculate an accurate energy bill. This means that smart meters are no more of a threat to your privacy than another smart devices.

Do you Need Cheaper Electricity?

If you’ve taken the time to understand the information on your bill and discovered you’re paying more than you’d like for your electricity, have you looked around for a cheaper deal? The Energy Professor has a wealth of information on ways to save on your utilities, including details of top deals that could significantly reduce your monthly or quarterly electricity bills.

We hope you found this article helpful! If you are looking for ways to increase energy efficiency and sustainability in your home be sure to take a look at all of the latest renewable energy options in your area. The Energy Professor helps residential and small business owners find qualified energy suppliers in New YorkNew JerseyPennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts

Kurt Gillman

Kurt Gillman is a seasoned professional in the energy industry, with over 3 years of experience in writing about sustainable solutions for The Energy Professor clients to help them save money. He has lived in various parts of the United States, including Wisconsin, New York City, and Southern California, which has given him a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities presented by different environments and energy needs. Throughout his career, Kurt has been committed to creating helpful energy solution guides that help clients save money while also benefiting the planet. He has a deep passion for understanding of the latest technologies and trends in the renewable energy sector, and he uses his experience to guide readers in making informed decisions about their energy future. As a writer for The Energy Professor, Kurt is proud to be part of a team that is dedicated to creating a sustainable future for all. He understands that every reader has unique needs and goals, and he works closely with his team to develop customized solutions that meet their specific requirements and save them money.