Smart Meters QLD: Why should you get a smart electricity meter?
The smart meter rollout is happening all across Australia, and in Queensland it’s no different. By replacing old, analogue electricity meters with smart meters it’s easier to keep an eye on your energy usage, and better understand your energy bills. Learn more about smart meters in Queensland and have all your questions and concerns about the smart meter rollout answered, by reading more below so you know why it’s the smart choice to switch to a smart meter.
What is a smart meter? What do smart meters look like?
Smart meters, also known as digital meters or advanced meters, are a type of electricity meter that measures your home energy usage every 30 minutes. Unlike traditional electricity meters, which only measure the cumulative energy usage of your home, smart meters make it easier manage your energy usage through:
Allowing you to see your energy consumption in almost real-time
Tracking your solar energy generation and export
Enabling remote connections, disconnections, and readings
What does a smart meter look like?
Smart meters are small, grey, boxes located on the outside of your home or unit. Smart meters have a digital display, which shows information such as the date and time, and total kWh usage. However, the most important piece of information found on your smart meter is your National Metering Identifier, or NMI. This unique 10 or 11-digit number identifies your unique electricity meter, and can be used to learn more about your electricity connection.
National Metering Identifier Every electricity meter in Australia has an NMI, and each one is used to ensure the correct meter and energy data are attached to the right home address and energy account. Your NMI can be found directly on your electricity meter, as well as on your energy bill.
How to read a smart meter
Your actual smart meter itself probably won’t tell you a whole lot about your energy usage. The good thing about smart meters, however, is that most energy providers now offer online portals where you can track your energy usage in almost-real-time. Your energy provider probably has an account management platform, either online and/or on an app, where you can view and track your energy usage with a 1-3 day turnaround.
Are smart meters compulsory in Queensland?
Technically, smart meters are not compulsory in Queensland and if you have a working analogue electricity meter that doesn’t need to be replaced, you don’t need to get a smart meter yet. However, if for whatever reason you need a new meter, you will need to get a smart meter. This includes reasons such as:
- You’re connecting a new build to the energy grid
- Your old meter is faulty and needs to be replaced
- You purchased a solar PV system or other electricity product that requires a smart meter
- You’ve agreed to your energy provider replacing your analogue meter as part of their digital meter rollout
If your energy provider is rolling out digital meters to customers, you should have received a notice by email or in the post notifying you. If you’re not quite ready to give up your analogue meter and it doesn’t need to be replaced yet, you can usually contact your energy provider and request that they don’t yet replace it.
Are smart meters safe?
Yes, smart meters are safe.
When smart meters first came out, like any new technology, there was some concern over the side effects of smart meters. Specifically, there was some concern over the electromagnetic radiation that smart meters use to transmit data to your energy distributor. However, the levels of electromagnetic radiation used and the transmission periods of the meters means that overall, smart meters are safe.
Smart meters rely on low-level radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME), also known as RF EME, to communicate with your energy distributor in short bursts of information. It’s important to remember that the technology behind smart meters is not new and many wireless devices, including mobile phones, use RF EME.
Radiofrequency electromagnetic energy has been the subject of controversy for a while, with many claiming it can cause long-term health issues while others anecdotally claim side effects such as memory loss, dizziness, or mood changes. Despite these claims, there is little scientific data to support the idea that smart meters are dangerous.
According to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), the low power of smart meters, combined with their exterior location and short transmission periods means that overall RF EME exposure is too low to cause adverse side-effects and there is no established evidence that smart meters can cause health issues.
How to get a smart meter in Queensland
Smart meter installation in Queensland is managed and organised with your energy retailer. You will need to contact your energy retailer (the company you pay your electricity bill to), who will then coordinate and organise the installation of your smart meter with a licensed and qualified electrician.
Installing a smart meter in QLD
Getting your smart meter installed on your property is a relatively simple process.
- Contact your energy provider to set up the smart meter installation date.
- The electrician will come to your property on the agreed upon date, remove the old analogue meter, and replace it with your digital meter
The removal and replacement of the old meter with your new smart meter should only take about an hour. During this time you’ll be without power, but it shouldn’t take very long until you’re back up and running with your new smart meter.
When the electrician comes to your home to replace your analogue meter, make sure they have safe and unencumbered access to where the meter is located.
How much do smart meters in Queensland cost?
Most energy providers in Queensland are replacing and installing smart meters for free, at no cost to the energy consumer. However, it’s best to read the fine print and make sure there are no hidden costs elsewhere to offset the installation price.
If there is any concern over safety or access for the installation of your smart meter, your energy provider reserves the right to charge you to fix the issue. This can include hazards such as asbestos removal or other dangers.
Why should I get a smart meter?
Smart meters give you more insight, control, and understanding of your energy usage and bills. This means you will be able to save money, by understanding how and when you use your energy and ways you can reduce your consumption. The benefits of a smart meter include:
More accurate meter readings: Smart meters send the information about your energy usage to your distributor digitally, in 30-minute intervals. These remote readings mean your energy bills will no longer be based on estimated readings and you’ll be charged for your actual monthly consumption.
Monthly billing: Thanks to more frequent, and more accurate, energy readings, you can choose to get your electricity invoice every month rather than quarterly. Now, your energy payments will be smaller, and more frequent, allowing you to better plan and budget your monthly expenses while avoiding the dreaded billshock.
Remote readings: If you need a special reading, or a disconnection/reconnection, your energy distributor can charge you upwards of $100 in fees. With a smart meter, however, these readings, connections, and disconnections can be done remotely with a smaller fee (usually around $12).
Choice in tariff: Smart meters allow you to access a time-of-use tariff, rather than just a flat-rate tariff. With a time-of-use tariff, you’ll be charged more for your energy usage during peak times when there is more pressure on the electricity grid, but charged less when there is less pressure.
Solar panels: If you’re interested in solar energy in QLD, a smart meter is necessary to monitor your solar energy generation, usage, and what you send back to the grid. This means you can see exactly how much you get from your solar feed-in-tariff, allowing you to manage your own energy consumption to earn more with your solar energy.