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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 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.

Is the appearance of a smart meter any different from that of my old analog meter?

While very similar to the existing electric meters, there is one big difference in the appearance of the new smart electric meter: an easy-to-read digital display instead of the spinning wheel or dial that many customers have today.  For those customers, this will be the only obvious difference between the appearance of the old and the new meter. 

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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