Smart meters bring savings and reliability to consumers

Smart meters—also known as “advanced meters” or “digital meters” — are here for over 6 million Texas households, and they could revolutionize the way our electric system works.

The new meters replace 50-year-old meter technology. Think of all the ways technology has changed over the past 50 years: in the 1950s, computers were operated by punch-cards, and the state-of-the-art mobile phone—the Mobile System A—weighed 88 pounds.

Smart meters empower customers to take control over their own energy use

Right now, customers with smart meters can use Smart Meter Texas to track their energy use. The free online portal can track electric usage in monthly, daily and fifteen-minute intervals, allowing customers to view and adjust their energy use before getting their monthly bill. With the help of his Smart Meter Texas web portal, one Arlington homeowner was able to save 33 percent on his electric bill for the year.

CenterPoint Energy and Oncor also launched the Biggest Energy Saver contest last year to reward consumers who make the most of their smart meter data to reduce their energy usage and save on their electric bills. With the help of data from his smart meter and the Smart Meter Texas web portal, a Houston resident was able to cut his electricity use by 36 percent. A Pflugerville resident reduced his home’s energy usage by more than 39 percent.

Plus, smart meters give consumers more privacy, since they can be read remotely, and remote connection and disconnection of service lets consumers start or stop service or change Retail Electric Providers (REPs) faster at lower cost.

Smart meters help keep the lights on

Smart meters not only can help you save energy and money, they can also improve reliability. The new meters can automatically notify utilities when power is lost, so that power can be restored more quickly. Smart meters can even detect some problems before they lead to power outages.

Smart meters can also help reduce power demand when the electricity grid is strained by facilitating demand response. During peak times, when grid operators ask for help, utilities can coordinate with some of their customers—homeowners and small businesses—who voluntarily agree to reduce their energy usage. In exchange, an electricity provider may offer a customer a free thermostat or an equivalent incentive for reducing their energy use.

REPs already on board

Reliant Energy offers several plans and products that take advantage of new smart meter technology. For example, the Reliant e-Sense Keep Your Cash Nights & Weekends plan discounts electricity used on weeknights from 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and all weekend long; other time-of-use plans allow customers to receive a lower price during off-peak hours.

TXU Energy plans include “Energy Free Nights,” which eliminates the energy charges from 10 PM to 6 AM, and free web-based information services that help customers better understand how and when they use electricity so they can reduce usage and save money on electricity bills

In short, energy technology is changing for the better, giving us more information to manage the energy we use, while enjoying greater convenience and reliability.

Click here to download “Electric 101: Smart Grid Technology”

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