Learn the basics of Texas smart meters

November 21, 2019   By Caitlin Cosper

Learn the basics of Texas smart meters

Texas smart meters are becoming more common compared with traditional electric meters. According to the EIA, the Lone Star State added more smart meters in residential homes than any other state in 2016, with more than 200,000 energy consumers installing smart meters in their homes.

Smart meter installations have more than doubled nation-wide since 2010. In 2018 alone, about 86.8 million smart meters were installed in the U.S. Nearly 90 percent of these smart meters  were for residential customers.

So, what exactly are smart meters? How are they different from traditional electric meters? And can they save consumers money? Here’s what you should know.

What is a smart meter?

Traditional electric meters only measure total energy consumption and normally only provide measurements on a monthly basis. These older meters don’t send the measurement anywhere, so they need to be read manually by a professional meter reader. This usually means scheduling an appointment with the utility and waiting for a professional to drive to your home to fix the meter.

Smart meters, on the other hand, have a continuous, two-way communication system and store information in 15-minute intervals on an online network. These meters can send information about your energy usage to the utility company and are a lot easier to read and understand for non-professional meter readers. Smart meters let consumers monitor their electric, gas and water usage.

Also, some smart meters can communicate with your home appliances – as long as the appliances are compatible. For example, a smart meter could be paired with a smart thermostat, allowing the thermostat to change your home’s temperature depending on energy cost throughout the day.

Can smart meters save you money?

There are a few ways consumers can save money using a smart meter. For starters, smart meters make it much easier and quicker for utilities to troubleshoot any consumer issues. Because smart meters share a network with the utility, professionals at the utility can quickly resolve consumer issues remotely, meaning you won’t have to schedule an appointment or wait for the meter reader to arrive at your home.

Also, smart meters can provide insight into energy consumption habits. With smart meters, consumers can easily read and monitor how much energy they are using throughout the day. This allows you to see when you are using the most energy and make adjustments to lower your monthly energy rates.

In a nutshell, here are some of the benefits of installing a smart meter:

  • Consistent and easy-to-read energy usage information.
  • Helps consumers learn about energy usage and adjust their habits.
  • Sends alerts to consumers when their energy bill is going to be higher than usual.
  • Sends alerts to consumers when there are outages in the area.
  • Reduces the number of blackouts and system-wide electricity failures.
  • Allows consumers to quickly start or stop their service.

However, simply installing a smart meter doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll save money. While smart meters definitely provide easy access to energy insights, it’s up to you, the consumer, to adjust your energy habits. Without making adjustments to your habits, your savings will likely be underwhelming.

Texas smart meters on the rise

Texas smart meters have become more prominent, with between 61 and 80 percent of the state owning a smart meter. Washington, DC has the highest smart meter installation rate with 97 percent. In second place is Nevada with 96 percent. Maine, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, California and Vermont all reported more than 80 percent of smart meter installations.

With the increase in popularity, there are a growing number of programs providing access to smart meters for Texans. For example, Entergy Texas announced a program this year with the goal of connecting smart meters with residents in the southeast Texas and Liberty County regions.

Residents in the Lone Star State also have access to a resource called Smart Meter Texas, which stores daily, monthly and 15-minute interval energy data sent by smart meters. This data is safely stored and accessible for customers to view.

To learn more about Texas smart meters, visit the resources below:

Caitlin Cosper is a writer within the energy and power industry. Born in Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia before earning her master’s in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.