Smart metering is a new system of charging different rates during different times of day and reimbursing electricity producers for their contribution to the grid.
Electricity providers are charging residential consumers different rates for different times of day. One important aspect of this system, that it encourages users to use electricity where possible at the cheaper times of day. Many homeowners can adjust times for doing tasks such as, laundry and dish-washer use to late evening. Many of the appliances come equipped with a built-in timer. This allows them to have the time preset for when they will start to run.
A significant advantage for the energy provider is that their cost of power generation is reduced if they shift residential use to times when commercial and industrial needs are lower. To explain this further: Home-owners, industry and commercial out-lets such as stores etc. All tend to have greater need for electricity during the day-time hours. If the provider can set the pricing to encourage off-peak usage, it reduces the amount of peak demand. With the usage spread out more evenly, the need for additional power generation plants can be delayed. This saves money for the provider and hopefully eventually for the consumer as well.
Rates and Times
The rates and times may vary from region to region and company to company. These may also change from winter to summer. Generally speaking, the cheapest time for electricity use will be over night and on week-ends for both winter and summer. The cheapest rate may begin from 7 to 9 P.M. and end at probably 7 A.M. During the winter months the next cheapest time will be late morning to early evening, with the most expensive time being morning and evening. During the summer period the most expensive time will be from late morning to early evening because of the higher drain of energy due to air-conditioning.
You will need to check with your power provider for exact times and rates.
The second and very important aspect of smart meters is that if a consumer produces electricity by means of wind or solar power electricity generation, they are compensated. This is called net-metering. Net metering is set up so that when you use electricity, you pay at the rate for that time of day. When you generate more power than you need for your own use, you can feed it back to the grid at another rate which is higher and set in advance. The energy that is fed back onto the grid is usually compensated for at a much higher rate. The reason for this is that the power company is allowing consideration of the financial outlay the customer has made and the power company can delay their cost of power plant construction.
There is a decided environmental advantage if we can reduce the need for more power plants which are either using uranium or fossil fuels such as coal or oil. All of these fuels have negative environmental consequences. Uranium is radioactive and after the nuclear energy plants are finished with it the by-products have to be stored safely. The burning of fossil fuels contributes to acid rain and other forms of pollution.
There are a few things the individual consumer can do to save on electricity use and thus save money.
--We can be careful to turn off lights and electronic equipment such as computers when they are not being used.
--Plug items that continue to draw electricity while turned off, into a switched plug strip that can be turned off when not being used. Televisions are prime examples.
--Remove battery chargers from the out-let, for cameras, cell-phones etc. When they are not charging the battery. If they are left plugged in they continue to draw power.
--Switch to energy star appliances.
--Replace your high energy consuming incandescent bulbs with very energy efficient
replacement LED light bulbs.
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