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What Are Smart Meters and How Do They Work?

If you don’t live in a newly-built building, chances are you have more than once received a message from your energy suppliers advising you that they are installing smart meters in your area. They are said to make your life easier and help you save money. But what are smart meters and how do they actually work? 

What are smart meters? 

Smart meters are just a new generation of devices that measure your gas or electricity use. However, they have a few advantages compared to traditional meters:

  • They measure the usage more accurately, which translates into fairer bills and tariffs;
  • They send your readings automatically and wirelessly to your provider, which means no more estimated bills and no more reminders to send your readings; 
  • Since they send regular readings more often, it is easier to understand how you use energy throughout the day and make changes where needed; 
  • Some companies offer better deals to those customers wanting to upgrade their homes to the XXIst century greener technology. 

How do smart meters work? 

Smart meters work differently depending on whether they are smart electricity meters, smart gas meters or smart water meters, but they communicate with each other (and with your provider) through wireless networks: the Home Area Network (HAN) and the Wide Area Network ( WAN). 

Smart gas meters work through HAN

Smart gas meters are battery-powered. They are not usually on, but they wake up every half an hour to do a reading and send it to the electricity meter through HAN (Home Area Network, which communicates with devices within your household).

Smart electricity meters work through WAN

Smart electricity meters are connected to the mains, and they monitor how much electricity you use at all times. Then, they use WAN (similar to a mobile phone network) to send both readings (gas and electricity) to your energy provider. 

Smart water meters

Probably less known than smart electricity meters and smart gas meters, smart water meters are really useful for businesses trying to cut off expenses. To know more about it and see if this is available to you, you should contact your water supplier. Learn who your water supplier is here. 

Can smart meters help you save? 

Even though smart meters are really not mandatory, they are of great help to keep control of your energy usage. You will not be spending less on your energy bills simply because you have a smart meter installed, but it can help you understand:

  • What appliances are less energy-efficient (it could be time to buy a new washing machine if every time you use it your usage skyrockets),
  • What times of the day you are spending more energy at, or
  • How much energy (and money) your appliances spend when on stand-by (and the big difference that turning them off can make).