Upgrading to a smart meter
What is a smart meter ?
A smart meter (also referred to as an advanced meter or ‘type 4’ meter) digitally measures your energy usage. It measures how much electricity you’re using and when you’re using it, sending this information to your energy retailer remotely. This saves the hassle of your meter needing to be manually read by a meter reader.
How is a smart meter different to my current metering technology?
A smart meter digitally measures the electricity flowing through your house at 15-30 minute intervals and reports back to the meter service provider on a daily basis. The older style of accumulation meters measure approximate total electricity used over a longer period of time making it somewhat less accurate. The reliable reading of the smart meter allows people to take control of their energy consumption and reduce their usage, saving costs and the environment.
When do I upgrade my meter?
- If you’re wanting to go green and install a grid powered solar power system, you will need to have a smart meter and compatible switchboard. Having an old, outdated switchboard is not only incompatible with solar power but is also potentially dangerous as older ceramic fuses are unsafe and unreliable. It is important to speak to a knowledgeable electrician if you’re considering a switchboard upgrade in the future.
- If your meter box is significantly outdated, it can pose some serious risks such as burning out or catching fire. If your meter doesn’t have any trip switches or meter isolation links it could be a significant safety issue.
If you think your meter is having any of the previously listed issues, contact one of our licensed electricians for an assessment as soon as possible to avoid any serious safety concerns.
The benefits of upgrading to a smart meter
Whether or not to upgrade your meter is a hot topic right now with horror stories of billing errors and meter faults swamping the web.
It’s important to be educated on the facts and benefits your smart meter can bring before you make an educated decision. While Australians have the right to opt out of smart meter installations (if their current meter isn’t faulty or they aren’t moving to a newly built house), the pro’s of having a smart meter could outweigh the rumoured con’s.
Having a smart meter will:
- Save you money by avoiding the issue of estimated meter readings (which are an inaccurate guess that is used when meters are found to be inaccessible). This has consequently lead to higher bills as the meters can’t be remotely recorded. By having an accurate meter reading you’re saving money of your electricity bill
- Allow for any faults and incorrect readings to be picked up earlier than older style meters would allow as the data is sent straight to the retailer more frequently
- Reduce concern or hassle regarding meter readers accessing your property especially if you’re a pet owner
- Allow for easier management of billing and control with more frequently updated data available. This data provides detailed confidential information on your electricity consumption and energy management
- Enable easier monitoring of electricity supply conditions such as blackouts and faults
Will a smart meter cost you more? The facts and the fiction
Many people claim that converting to a smart meter costs more simply because they are liable to pay for the new smart meter and installation. However according to the Australian energy regulator fact sheet from December 2017 onward, your retailer is now responsible for installing new and replacement meters (however you will still need to discuss with your retailer whether or not they are able to offer a smart meter).
The other main concern people seem to have is the connotation that smart meters are actually costing them more when their bills come back higher after the new installation. There are a few explanations as to why this could be, with the most likely theory being that their previous older meter was under-reading their usage as it is not as accurate as the new smart meter. Another explanation is the possibility of their meter having a fault (if you suspect your smart meter may have a fault, it is now the responsibility of the electricity retailers to monitor and check).
Who can see my electricity usage and personal details if I have a smart meter?
Privacy is a must in this digital age especially when it comes to your electricity usage data. This data is confidential and is only shared between you and the energy supplier as your information is protected under the Federal Privacy Act 1988 (the Act) which regulates the handling of personal information.
Checking your usage has also never been easier, as the data collected from your smart meter will be available through an online site, app or in home display.
Further protecting your privacy are specific safeguards that have been enforced to protect for your information. The first safeguard being that energy distributors and retailers must obtain your consent before disclosing your information to a third party. Another safeguard is the assurance from distributors and retailers that your personal information is secure from any unauthorised use or access as they are liable for any breach in privacy.
So how do I get a smart meter and who will install the meter?
There are a few possible ways to obtain a smart meter through your energy retailer
- If you have a faulty meter your retailer must replace and upgrade
- If you have a new home with a new connection point your retailer is responsible for the new installation
- If you’d simply like a smart meter, you just have to request it from your retailer (however there could be possible delays)
Once you have secured a new smart meter, it is your electricity retailers responsibility to manage the installation process and will be able to provide you with more details. Your electricity retailer will organise the electrician in charge of installing the new meter, so you can kick back, relax and reap the benefits of your new smart meter.