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Technological advances in our energy grid and home meters now allow Americans to waste less energy overall, and more tightly control the energy they use at home and work. Smart grid is the application of information technology, tools and techniques that can make the grid run more efficiently. The current electric grid is highly inefficient and is being modernized to make energy go further.

Smart meters are digital meters that replace the old analog meters used in homes to record electrical usage. Digital meters can tell you when, where and how you're using the most energy, and what it's costing you.

Together, smart grid and smart meters can help solve America's energy concerns through more efficient use of the resources we already have. Read on to learn more.

Key Facts

  • As of May 2012, 36 million smart meters have been installed across the country
  • Decreases brownouts, blackouts, and surges by smoothing the flow of power
  • Eliminates the practice of estimated bills, which means no more surprises on your electric bill
  • Promises to increase the efficiency of today’s system by around 9% by 2030, saving more than 400 billion kilowatt-hours each year

Q&A

How much progress has the smart grid made in the U.S.? How many smart meters have been installed?

A map of smart meter installations by state provided by the Institute for Electric Efficiency illustrates progress. As of May 2012, 36 million smart meters have been installed across the country. By 2015, approximately 65 million smart meters are expected to be installed—that’s more than half of all U.S. households.

How can the smart grid save me money?

The idea of the smart grid and the ability to communicate real time electrical market data to consumers will allow people to choose when to use electricity based on the smart grid rates. There is a lot involved in the electrical market and power pricing. Basically electricity is more expensive during higher demand times, usually mid week, mid day to evening. During the times if high demand electricity rates go up exponentially. This is due in part to the lack of generation capability and availability.

With the smart grid the communication of real time electricity rates to the consumer will be possible. This will allow people to choose not to use as much power during peak times to avoid high costs; this will overall reduce the demand. Smart grid compatible appliances or grid friendly appliances will be able to turn off and on automatically based on the cost of electricity at any given moment in time.

What are smart meters?

Smart meters, a common form of smart grid technology, are digital meters that replace the old analog meters used in homes to record electrical usage. Digital meters can transmit energy consumption information back to the utility on a much more frequent schedule than analog meters, which require a meter reader to transmit information.

Electric energy use will be recorded every hour at your home and every 15 minutes at your business. Natural gas information will be available on a daily basis. Smart meters will enable you to monitor your consumption more precisely so you can make more informed energy choices.

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