Using Your Smart Meter Data to Save Electricity
With a smart meter, you can keep track of electricity consumption just like when you check the balance in a savings account or credit card. By simply monitoring your electricity usage, you can identify your high-consumption hours, and determine which home appliances are causing them. “You can’t control what you can’t measure” is a common phrase among engineers, and this is a good example!
Depending on your electricity plan and how your smart meter is configured, you can also view surplus generation from onsite solar panels, wind turbines, or any renewable energy system you own. Your electricity provider can purchase these kilowatt-hours, and subtract them from your next power bill.
As an example of how smart meter data can help you select a better electricity plan, consider the following scenario:
- Three homes are currently on a “Free Nights” plan, where they are not charged for electricity between 9PM and 9AM, but pay 20 cents/kWh from 9AM to 9PM.
- All three homes consume 1,200 kWh per month, but home #1 uses 800 kWh during paid hours, home #2 uses 600 kWh, and home #3 only uses 400 kWh.
The corresponding electricity bill for each home would be the following:
||Paid Consumption (20¢ / kWh)
Since a smart meter registers data at 15-minute intervals, consumers can see how their electricity usage is distributed during the day. When we receive a power bill, we often focus on the totals – kWh consumption and amount billed.
However, the three homeowners in this example could check their smart meter data, and see how consumption is split between the two schedules (9PM-9AM and 9AM-9PM). This is possible, since the measured data includes consumption at 15-minute intervals.
- If another electricity plan offers a fixed rate of 10 cents/kWh, regardless of the hour, all three homeowners would be billed $120.
- Home #1 would save $40 per month by switching, home #2 would get the same bill, and home #3 would actually pay $40 more per month.
Reducing your power bills by switching your electricity plan is possible, but you need data to make a good decision. The measurements collected by smart meters are useful when trying to decide which plan works best for you.
Learning how to read an Electricity Facts Label (EFL) is also important, so you can know exactly how your electricity will be billed. Some plans offer you low rates, but only if you meet certain conditions that are not evident upfront. For example, there may be a discount for exceeding a certain kWh consumption, but you pay much more if you don’t reach that value.