Technology gets better every day, and so do metering systems and devices. If you don’t have a smart meter at your home or business, it might be a good idea to get one, as it will save you time and help you come up with an electricity plan that suits your energy consumption. Keep reading to find out why smart meters are worth it, how they work, and how they are different from conventional electricity meters.
What Is a Smart Meter?
Every residence and business has an electric meter that registers the amount of consumed electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A conventional analog meter has to be read monthly by a meter reader who comes to your premise to record the amount of consumed electricity displayed on your meter. However, metering technology has significantly improved, making it possible for smart meters to record the amount of consumed electricity and send it automatically to your Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU). This is why a smart meter doesn’t require anyone to record its readings every month.
Keep in mind that not all digital meters are smart meters, but all smart meters are digital. There are many digital meters in Texas that still have to be read by employees of the TDUs every month.
How Do Smart Meters Work?
The main purpose of any electricity meter is to record the amount of electricity a home or business consumes. Smart meters basically do the same in addition to sending the necessary electricity data to your Transmission and Distribution Utility every 15 minutes. You will also have access to all the detailed readings of your consumption and the corresponding prices, which makes it easier to control your electricity usage. The communication between smart meters and TDUs is done through radio frequency signals that take place for one to two seconds at a time.
Is a Smart Meter in Texas Free?
Having a smart meter in Texas isn’t free, but you won’t have to pay the full price when it gets installed at your location. You will just have to pay a surcharge that will be added to your monthly bill. In 2005, with the approval of the Texas Legislature, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) authorized electricity companies to add a surcharge to the bills of the customers who get new smart meters in order to recover the extra costs.
If you don’t have a smart meter and want to have one, contact your Transmission and Distribution Utility regarding its smart meter distribution plans and costs in your neighborhood. You can usually find the phone number of your TDU on your electric bill. Otherwise, here are the numbers of TDUs in Texas.
- Centerpoint: 800-332-7143
- AEP Texas: 866-223-8508
- Texas New Mexico Power: 888-886-7456
- Oncor Electric Delivery: 888-313-4747
Can You Refuse to Have a Smart Meter Installed?
Yes, you can choose not to have a smart meter installed at your home or business. Although smart meters are safe and beneficial, some people don’t want them. However, if you already have a smart meter and want to exchange it for an analog meter, you will have to pay a hefty one-time fee or an extra charge that will be added to your monthly bill. For more details about the process and costs of opting out of a smart meter, contact your Transmission and Distribution Utility.
Are Smart Meters Worth It?
Smart meters are definitely worth it, especially if you want to regulate your electricity consumption and lower your expenses. After getting a smart meter, you can easily register on the Smart Meter Texas (SMT) website in order to receive and view all of your energy consumption data and reports online. Smart meters are also more convenient, as you won’t have to worry anymore about the meter reader who comes to your home every month. Moreover, your smart meter will instantly notify the Transmission and Distribution Utility in case of a power outage.
Smart meters are also good for the environment, as meter readers are no longer going to drive around the town to record the readings of many meters at different places. So there will be fewer vehicles on the road, thus reducing fuel consumption, pollution, and traffic.
How to Read/Analyze/Interpret the Smart Meter Reports
The SMT website enables you to download your energy data in the form of a CSV file. Depending on the type of report you request, the data will be either available for immediate download or you will get an email notification when it’s ready for download. If you have trouble reading or analyzing your usage reports, contact the Smart Meter Texas team by clicking on the Contact Us tab on the left side of the SMT webpage. You can also contact your Retail Electric Provider (REP) for more guidance.
Want to Use Your Smart Meter Information to Pick the Perfect Energy Plan for Your home?
There are many energy plans that you can choose from, depending on the size of your premise and the amount of your energy usage. In the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) of every Texas energy plan, you will see the prices for different monthly energy usage levels of 500, 1,000, and 2,000 kilowatt-hours. Your smart meter readings will show you how many kWh you consume every month so you can select the right usage level when considering energy plans.
Some energy plans offer free nights and weekends, and time of day usage information will allow you to determine whether these plans are a fit for your home (these plans are expensive for typical home usage levels). Having a smart meter at your location will also let you have more control over your electricity usage, as you will be able to view the detailed readings of your usage so you can understand your costs to make decisions. Thus, you can know which devices in your home or office consume the most energy and when energy consumption is at its maximum, so you can regulate your usage according to when consumption is free.
Smart meters are more convenient than conventional meters, and they will help you regulate your monthly energy usage so you can cut down your expenses. However, you may have to pay an extra monthly surcharge that will be added to your bill if you get a smart meter installed. Make sure to select the perfect energy plan for your home based on your energy usage, and avoid billing surprises, by visiting HomeEnergyClub.com.