Smart meters are an improved electricity metering system. These devices are essentially small computer-like systems. A smart meter does not have to be installed separately and can be fitted over a regular electricity meter.
All houses have an electricity meter installed. Traditional electricity meters only measure the number of electricity units consumed in a household. Thus, the meter is only performing one function i.e. to record the electricity consumption. These meters do not help the consumer to know more about his electricity consumption habits. A better metering system can help users track their electricity consumption habits and thereby focus on ways to reduce the number of units used. At the same time, it can help companies get a better perspective of user's electricity habits. Smart meters provide these functions.
A smart meter has two main functions. It measures the electricity used in a household, usually on an hourly basis. This approach allows electricity consumption to be recorded in a systematic and more detailed manner than traditional meters. The second main function is that the smart meter is able to transmit its recorded data directly to the power company or utility billing system. This reduces complications involving billing errors and delays in bill calculations.
Smart meters offer time-based measurements. This provides a more accurate reading of electricity consumption. The meter, when linked to an in-house display unit, makes it convenient for homeowners to see exactly how much energy they are consuming at a particular time. This also helps homeowners monitor which appliances consume more power.
Smart meters allow power companies to offer pricing schemes related to the time at which electricity is used. This can provide cost savings to homeowners as well. By monitoring consumption, users can avoid using power-hungry appliances during peak electricity generation times and thereby pay less for the electricity consumed.
Newer models of smart meters have an added advantage. They have a built-in remote control feature, which allows users to control various electrical appliances by turning them on at a specific time. This feature enables minimum usage of electricity while maintaining optimum comfort levels in the home.