Electricity Smart Meters in NSW
Smart meters are slowly replacing traditional meters across Australia, including in New South Wales. Smart meters allow you to more accurately read your energy usage, and take better control of your electricity bills. Find out what a smart meter is, how you can get a smart meter in New South Wales, and how you can benefit from switching to a smart meter, by reading more below.
What is a smart meter?
Smart meters are also known as digital or advanced meters. Unlike traditional meters, these read your energy usage in 30-minute intervals to get a more accurate reading of your electricity consumption. With smart meters, you have easier access to more accurate information on your energy usage, any solar generation, and can benefit from remote readings done by your energy distributor.
What does a smart meter look like?
Smart meters are usually small, grey, boxes found on the outside of your home or apartment building. They have a digital display, which can show your total kWh usage, and the date and time. The most important information on your smart meter, however, is the 10 or 11 digit National Metering Identifier (NMI). This unique code identifies your electricity meter, and can be used to see information about your electricity connection. With your NMI, you can get a more accurate electricity cost estimate from energy providers.
How to read a smart meter
Unfortunately, most digital smart meters cannot easily be read manually. Only the meter service provider can download your energy usage data. However, many energy providers offer online energy management platforms where you can view your energy usage by the hour, day, week, or even year. Most of the time, your energy usage will be available on your provider's account management platform within 24-72 hours.
Benefits of having a smart meter in NSW
Smart meters offer a lot of benefits to energy consumers. In addition to being able to more accurately measure a household’s energy consumption, smart meters also allow for more remote electricity management and communication.
- More accurate metering: Smart meters can not only tell how much energy you use but at what time you used it
- Remote meter readings: Unlike traditional meters, smart meters can be read from a remote location. This means you don’t need to worry about estimated energy bills, and any special reading you need done will probably have a smaller distributor fee
- Able to read different data: In addition to electricity consumption, smart meters can also measure renewable energy generation, such as solar power, and tell you how much you’ve generated as well as exported
- Easy disconnection / reconnection: Distributors can remotely disconnect and reconnect power, for example when you move house. Remote disconnections and reconnections also usually come with lower distributor fees than traditional connections where someone has to come to your house.
Smart meter concerns
As with most new technology, when smart meters first came out there was a lot of controversy surrounding them. People were worried about how safe smart meters are, and whether they’d be charged more on their energy bills once one was installed on the property.
Are smart meters safe?
When smart meters came out, there was a lot of controversy about the side effects of smart meters, more specifically about the electromagnetic radiation smart meters use to relay information back to your energy distributor.
Smart meters use low-level radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME) to communicate with your distributor in short bursts of information. RF EME is not only used in smart meters, but in many wireless devices including mobile phones. This RF EME has been the subject of controversy for some time, with many claiming that it might cause long-term health issues, while others claim sensitivity to the radio waves which, anecdotally, cause short-term side effects such as memory loss, dizziness, irritability, and more.
Despite these claims, there is little scientific data to support the idea that smart meters are dangerous in any way. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) states that the combination of low power the smart meters use, along with their exterior location outside of buildings, and that they only transmit for short periods of time, means that overall exposure of RF EME is quite low and that there is no established evidence that smart meters can cause health issues.
Will my electricity cost more with a smart meter?
Since smart meters began being rolled out in Australia, there are anecdotal claims that electricity bills have increased. This is not entirely accurate, and the cause of increasing electricity bills can’t only be attributed to smart meters.
More accurate readings: Since smart meters give more accurate readings, your energy bills will reflect this. You won’t have energy bills based off of estimates, so you will be charged based on your actual consumption.
Change in tariffs: Smart meters allow you to use a time-of-use tariff, rather than a flat-rate tariff. With time-of-use, you’re charged more during times when there is more demand on the energy grid. If you use more energy during these peak hours, your energy bill will reflect this increased cost.
Since smart meters don’t actually affect how much energy you use, they shouldn’t be the sole cause of your electricity bills increasing. If you’re looking to reduce your energy consumption and electricity costs, the data your smart meter provides can help you take control of your energy usage.
Are smart meters compulsory in NSW?
While smart meters are not compulsory yet, more and more electricity providers in New South Wales are rolling out smart meters to replace traditional analogue meters. You can choose to opt out of getting a smart meter, if you want. Most energy providers will give you a notice regarding the replacement of your analogue meter, all you need to do is tell them you don't want a new digital smart meter and you should be opted out.
How to get a smart meter in NSW: The smart meter rollout
Smart meters are now the norm when it comes to new meter installations, meaning if you have a newly built house, you probably have a smart meter. In addition, many energy providers have started rolling out and replacing traditional meters with smart meters for their customers. If you’re not one of the people who already has a smart meter, but you want to benefit from taking better control of your energy usage, you should get in contact with your energy provider and find out if a smart meter is available for you.
When contacting your energy provider for a new smart meter you will need to:
- Organize the installation date and time with your energy provider
- Find out any additional costs involved
- Make sure the installer has safe access to your smart meter
Smart meter installation in New South Wales
Once you've set a smart meter installation date with your energy provider, the actual installation process is very simple. The installer will come to your home, remove your old analogue meter, and replace it with a smart meter. During the installation process, your electricity should only be down for 30 minutes to one hour, and the actual installation process shouldn't be much longer than that.
How much do smart meters in NSW cost? Are smart meters in NSW free?
Most energy providers in New South Wales are now offering free smart meters to replace traditional ones. However, it’s best to read the fine print and ensure you’re not left with additional costs elsewhere to offset the installation price.
If, for whatever reason, there is a problem with safety or access for the installation of your smart meter your energy provider might charge you to fix the problem. This could include asbestos removal, or any other hazard.
Smart meter tariffs: Time of Use
When you get a smart meter, you unlock the ability to choose the type of electricity tariff you want. While traditional meters can only usually be used with single or flat-rate tariffs, smart meters give you the ability to choose a time-of-use (TOU) tariff.
Unlike flat-rate tariffs, which charge you the same usage rates no matter when you use your electricity, TOU tariffs offer different electricity rates depending on when demand on the electricity grid is highest. Time-of-use tariffs are divided into two or more rates, which are usually:
- Peak: When demand on the electricity grid is highest, and thus electricity costs the most. Peak rates typically apply weekday evenings, when most people are home from work.
- Off-peak: When demand on the electricity grid is lowest, and thus electricity costs the least. These typically apply overnight, and during the weekend.
- Shoulder: When demand on the electricity grid is average. Shoulder rates cost less than peak rates, but more than off-peak.
In addition, TOU rates might also differ between seasons. For example, summer peak rates might be between 14:00 and 19:59, while winter peak rates might occur during 17:00 and 20:59.
Best energy providers for smart meters in New South Wales
A smart meter that tells you your energy usage every day does nothing if your energy provider doesn’t easily give you access to the information. Thankfully, more and more providers are giving customers the ability to monitor their energy consumption online or via an app. Here we outline some of the best energy providers in New South Wales for smart meters, whether they have a user-friendly app, online management system, or another smart way to better manage your energy.
Powerclub: Powerclub offers wholesale electricity rates, meaning prices vary with the demand on the grid. With their Powerwatch app, you will be alerted to wholesale price spikes as well as ways to reduce your energy usage at the moment by giving up-to-the-minute information about energy pricing.
Powershop: The Powershop app allows you to not only manage your energy usage, but also to purchase the Powerpacks necessary to pay your energy bill with Powershop. You can view your energy consumption, pay your Powershop bill, and manage your account, all at once.
Amaysim: With its subscription energy service, the Amaysim Energy app lets smart meter users not only see their energy consumption, but also manage their account. Amaysim subscription energy customers can switch to a different sized plan, top-up their energy if they’ve run low, or check past usage.
Amber Electric: As another wholesale energy retailer, the Amber Electric app gives customers live wholesale prices, as well as forecasts for the next 12 hours so you can manage your energy usage. In addition you can see individual solar Feed-in-Tariff rates throughout the day and your daily usage history.
Origin Energy smart meters in NSW
Origin Energy offers smart meter installation to residents in New South Wales. In addition, the Origin Energy app and energy usage management platform allows those in NSW with a smart meter to not only check their past usage, but also see an estimate of their next bill. With the Origin Energy usage app, your smart meter data will appear after two days.
EnergyAustralia smart meters in NSW
EnergyAustralia customers with smart meters in New South Wales can utilize the EnergyAustralia app to not only view and pay bills, manage account details, and view past usage history but also monitor their energy consumption. If you're an EnergyAustralia customer and looking to upgrade to a smart meter, contact the provider to arrange an installation.