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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 details do smart meters collect?

Details will vary based on the technology but an example is that you will be able to see online usage reports as recent as the previous day. Residential customers will see usage in hourly increments; business customers will see usage in 15-minute increments.

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.

What happens to the old meters?

The old meters are recycled.  Any newer, electronic meters utilities replace (such as solid state meters and OMR – offsite meter read – meters) are refurbished, tested and recycled back into the meter population until smart meters are installed in the area in which they are recycled. The older, electromechanical (dial) meters that are replaced are dismantled and all their components – such as aluminum, copper, glass et cetera – recycled.

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