A smart meter is an electronic device that records the consumption of electric energy. This recording is done in intervals of one hour or less. Once it is recorded, the information is sent back to the energy provider for billing purposes.
Basically, smart meters permit interaction between the meter and the central system without a technician having to be sent to your home to constantly read the meter.
The meters can be monitored electronically and remotely, and provide information to you, the consumer, via a visual and/or online display. You can see how much energy you consume on a daily basis allowing you to control your usage and reduce your energy costs. Your billing will be more accurate, you’ll save money and you’ll help protect the environment.
In the past you would have been billed for a single or two-month period for all the power you used during that time stage, regardless of when you used the most electricity.
With a smart meter, you’re charged only for the time you use the electricity. The Ontario Ministry of Energy introduced a new system that mirrors the cost of manufacturing energy at distinctive times of the day.
This system is called Time-of-Use and is broken down into three parts:
- Off-peak: This is when the demand for energy is low and less expensive sources of electricity are used.
- Mid-peak: This is when the demand and cost of energy are temperate.
- On-peak: This is when electricity is in high-demand and the most expensive forms are produced.
For instance, electricity peaks twice daily in winter. When people wake up in the morning and when they come home from work, they are more inclined to turn up the heat and use more lights. In the summer, however, electricity peaks in the afternoon when air-conditioners are used to their maximum capacity.
Overnight, no matter what time of year, electricity prices are lower. Unless you sleep with all your lights on, you will not pay for electricity you don’t use.
The shift towards the Time-of-Use system is better for consumers because it lowers their monthly bills. You will gain a better understanding of how and when your household consumes electricity and can take the necessary steps towards creating an energy efficient home.
The use of smart meters will require fewer power plants to be built in the future to meet peak electricity demand; thus, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and nuclear waste.