According to market research company NPD, the smart meter market in the US will see increasing growth over the next 10 years, and by 2016, 3 out of 4 electric meters in the US could be smart. This is big news for environmentalists, as smart meters are considered a “greener” form of electricity transmission that opens up opportunities for energy conservation.
Smart meters basically work by integrating digital chips into electric meters that constantly communicate electricity consumption to the utilities. It allows the utility to more accurately bill users for power consumed, and provides them with a faster way to determine if there are problems in the transmission grid.
With the installation of smart meters, users can reduce their electrical bill by avoiding the use of electricity during peak times – which is when electricity is most expensive.
Part of the reason for the push in smart meters can be attributed to $4 billion in funding from the stimulus package. Obama had made it an objective to install 40 million smart meters and 3,000 miles of transmission lines back in 2009. Although most of that funding has been allocated, smart meter growth will still continue, albeit at a slower rate than at its peak in 2011.
The growth in smart meters also allows for the growth of other related services as well. For instance, many new appliances and gadgets will be able to work with smart grids to achieve energy savings (e.g. the Nest Learning Thermostat). California is working on the Green Button Project, which will allow Californians to download and analyze energy consumption data.
The expansion of smart meters and smart “services” could mean consumers will be looking at their consumption habits in a totally new (and energy-conscious) way ten years from now.
What are your thoughts on smart meters? Do you think they will have a sizeable influence on peoples’ energy consumption habits?
Image CC licensed by Portland General Electric