Smart meters let you see your home’s power consumption in real time. They don’t directly cut usage, but – and it’s a big but – once you see the microwave, plus the range, plus a plasma TV or two, plus the AC racking up the power draw you might be more than slightly compelled to turn off unnecessary appliances.
A recent pilot in Texas showed that over 70% of users changed their energy behavior for the better when armed with the additional knowledge.
In many parts of the country, utility companies are installing the meters. The detailed consumption information allows better power management, reducing outages. They also have the potential to adjust rates based on demand. This is common in Europe where electricity is often cheaper at night.
Seeing your actual usage – perhaps even from a Smartphone app – is incredibly enlightening. It is better for the grid, and allows a much finer level of control of your electric bill. It’s an eye opening learning tool if you have heavily gadgetized kids or teens.
Objections to the remote meters center around infringement of privacy with concerns also raised about the very low levels of EM frequency radiation.
FPL has smart meter pilot programs underway in Miami-Dade County. Watch this space as they may be headed to southwest Florida as early as summer 2012!
While we’ll wait for a utility level program, for less than $100 you can install your own whole house monitor. While not as accurate as the utility version they are easy to install; a sensor attaches to your regular meter display and transmits a reading to a hand-held device.
The meters are generally accepted to reduce energy use, in most cases, anywhere from 5-15%. So even at the low end, you could save $75 and potentially over $200 a year.
Try it – it works!