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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

What makes a smart grid different than today’s grid?

Our electric system is more than 100 years old and although it has served us well, it needs upgrading. The energy industry is poised for a dramatic change. In the face of expanding customer expectations, increasing environmental regulation, and new technology, the traditional approach of building new power plants to meet energy demand can no longer be the only option. We must find ways to improve our service and meet our customers’ energy needs in a smart, lower-carbon way. Renewable generation and energy efficiency must, and will, play a larger role.

And consumers want more information and control, too; they want reliable and affordable energy that’s clean, and this requires a unique balancing act. By deploying digital energy technologies and modernizing our power grid, we can bring the grid into the 21st century, empower consumers to make wiser energy decisions, and help create a cleaner, lower-carbon and more energy-efficient world.

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.

Are advanced meters a fire hazard?

Smart meters do not cause fires: Smart meters cannot combust or ignite. Overheating is typically caused when there are problems with the meter enclosure. These problems can’t always be detected on a visual inspection and customers should have their meter enclosures checked periodically by a licensed electrical inspector.

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