Are smart meters the electricity equivalent to the National Broadband Network? Or is the old dial face just as good?
In an age where everything is going digital, is it possible to make our meter readings digital, too? Well the answer is “yes.” The good old meter reader, traipsing from door to door, is being phased out in favour of something smart, shiny and automated. Introducing the smart meter.
Most older houses have a dial face electricity meter, which gets read four times a year, once per quarter. The reading is compared to the previous quarter’s and the amount used is charged for. With a new smart meter, usage information gets sent to the retailer every half an hour, which then gives an accurate and immediate meter reading. With the new meter, power outages can be monitored, and any connections can be done remotely.
With so many positives for the smart meter, does it help to save money on your electricity bills? It can, if you know how to read the information. You may find better ways of using your energy, using less during peak periods, for example. If you’re not sure, it has the capability for online energy comparison sites to look at the information to find the cheapest electricity price for you. With a constant data stream of how you are using your energy, energy retailers may be able to offer more options on your energy tariff.
In the future, energy retailers anticipate that the technology will help plan for the future in terms of solar power design and energy trading deals.
As with all new technology it is designed to make our lives easier. But are there any additional costs to switching to a new smart meter?
According to Choice, energy providers are reluctant to give any firm information on this. Any charges related to the installation, including the cost of the meter, can range from free to a monthly charge. You may see a rise in your electricity rate as the cost of the meter, including installation, may be absorbed into it.
Unfortunately, this specific area is not regulated, and so retailers and contractors can charge what they want in order to recoup the costs. Before switching energy provider, make sure you ask them about the cost of the new meter and how they will charge you for it. Legally, they must disclose this before they install a new meter.
So, will everyone get a new meter? The short answer is not necessarily and not straight away. In December 2017, federal legislation was passed in several states and territories that dictated that any new residential developments must have the smart meter installed as standard. If a meter breaks, then they must also be replaced with new equipment.
If you’re in Victoria, however, all old-style meters must be replaced with smart meters. This is being rolled out and is dependent on your energy retailer’s schedule.
But what if you don’t want to be sharing your every energy moment? In Victoria, this switch is compulsory, but is possible to opt out by contacting your electricity provider.Otherwise, it’s well worth looking into the benefits that your retailer can offer you should you choose to get a new meter installed.
There are plenty of ways to find the best electricity provider. Using an online comparison site like Cheap Bills can help you find a better deal on all your utilities services. Simply visit www.cheapbills.com.au or call our friendly staff on 1300 786 045 to start saving money.