Smart meters are becoming more commonly used across Australia. They are now a standard in Victoria due to a mandatory rollout. Since new federal legislation in December 2017, they are now the default installation for replacement meters for homes in ACT, NSW, SA, QLD and TAS.
For businesses, smart meters can be an excellent tool for tracking and monitoring your energy usage.
About smart meters
A smart meter is a device that digitally measures energy usage. It measures when and how much energy is used on your premises, recording this information every 30 minutes.
That information is then usually accessed remotely and sent to your energy retailer, via your meter provider, generally removing the need for your meter to be read by a meter reader.
There are different models of smart meters, though they each function in much the same way. Smart meters are manufactured and installed according to Australian Standards and must comply with electromagnetic exposure limits developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).
Remotely read smart meters greatly reduce the incidence of estimated billing, allow monthly billing and can allow you to access newer time of use tariffs.
Installation of smart meters
A smart meter can be installed for several reasons:
– when you start a new energy tariff that requires a smart meter,
– your current meter is faulty or at its “end of life” and needs replacing,
– you’re in a new building that has a new connection point,
– or, you request to have one installed.
When switching energy retailers, some tariffs may require you to have a smart meter to access them. If you already have a mechanical or non interval meter and do not want a smart meter installed, you may be able to opt-out, just make sure you hadn’t waived this right when you signed your energy contract.
If your current meter requires replacing, but you don’t want a smart meter, you can request to have the remote communications function disabled. This means your meter will still need manual readings and may result in additional costs.
When you install a smart meter, your energy supply will experience a short disruption. Your energy retailer must give you at least four business days notification of this disruption, which tells you the date your meter is scheduled for replacement, as well as the time and length of any supply interruption.
Cost of a smart meter
If you require the installation of a smart meter, there may be some additional cost involved.
Depending on the retailer’s approach to how they charge for the new meter, it could appear as a lump sum on your next energy bill or as a monthly fee that appears on your bill. Some retailers may also choose to incorporate the cost of the new smart meter with your energy usage charges.
You may also have some additional site specific charges applied, associated with the installation of the meter to your premise.
Ask your energy retailer upfront how they will charge for the smart meter, its installation and if any additional costs that come with the meter, so you don’t get a surprise later on.
There are no regulations on what retailers can charge for the installation of a smart meter, so it may be worth shopping around to find which retailers offer the best price.
A smart meter can provide businesses with numerous benefits.
By providing regular information on how much electricity your business uses, and when, smart meters may help you better understand the energy needs of your business.
You can then use this information to make adjustments to your usage or maybe even find a better energy plan.
Having a smart meter installed may help electricity retailers offer you better products and services, such as energy management apps and easy access to your energy use data.
Smart meters may enable electricity distributors to detect faults and outages more quickly and monitor the quality of your electricity supply. This may assist in locating the problem faster and minimise the number and length of supply outages.
Connections and disconnections may be faster and cheaper with smart meters, as they may be able to be remotely undertaken.
Smart meters provide accurate detailed information about when you are using energy, which can help you identify ways to improve the energy efficiency of your business. This may also make it easier for companies to ensure they are getting the best price for their energy plan.
For more information on the benefits of smart meters, visit our blog on 6 reasons why your smart meter is a smart idea.