Smart Meters: Everything You Need to Know

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For electricity customers in Texas, smart meter installation has become the norm from around 2016. That year itself, Texas has added over 200,000 smart meters, the highest of any state.

The primary reason for Texans preferring smart meters to the traditional system may be the cost savings.

Texas Smart Meters: The Basics

Smart meters utilize the AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) technology to help you cut back on your energy consumption. In simple words, smart meters are more evolved than traditional electric metering systems.

Earlier, electric utility meters would measure the monthly energy usage of a home or business. A professional meter reader used to read the measurement manually on your premise; so, everything was offline.

Smart meters take accurate measurements of the energy consumed in shorter intervals of 15 minutes. They connect to an online network through radio waves and send real-time data to your utility company. So, even a non-professional can access and understand the readings easily.

Another difference between the electromechanical and smart meters is that the AMI system can be activated, disconnected, and reconnected remotely. So, in the case of reconnection, you don’t need to make an appointment to get it turned back on.

Where Can You Get a Smart Meter?

Smart meters are digital, but not every digital meter uses the AMI system.

Installation is not free, but you don’t have to pay the costs at that time. Your Retail Electric Provider (REP) has authorization from the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to recover the extra costs. The electric company will include the surcharge in your monthly energy bills.

If you want a smart metering system installed on your premises, contact the local TDU in your area. The TDU or TSDP (Transmission and Distribution Service Provider) varies with each service area. It is responsible for the lines, poles, and other infrastructure. You report your power outage to your utility.

You can find the local utility details on your electric bill. Here is the contact information for various TDUs in Texas:

AEP Texas Central: (866) 223-8508

AEP Texas North: (866) 223-8508

Oncor Electric Delivery: (888) 313-4747

CenterPoint Energy: (800) 332-7143

Sharyland Utilities: (956) 668-9551

Texas-New Mexico Power: (888) 866-7456

Can You Return Your Smart Meter?

Although there are many benefits of having a smart meter, some customers do not favor them. If you have just moved or are taking an electric connection for the first time, you can refuse to get a smart meter.

But if you already have one installed and would like to replace it with an analog meter, you have to pay an additional fee. Your utility may request you to make a one-time payment or add an extra charge on your bills every month.

How to Read Your Energy Data Using the Smart Meter?

Once you get a smart meter installed, register your account on the Smart Meter Texas (SMT) official website, where the up-to-date energy consumption details are stored.

View or download the data instead of waiting for a meter reader at the end of each month. Also, in case of power outages, the smart meter notifies your TDU.

Depending on the report you request, you may download instantly or wait for an email notification that informs you when it is ready.

In the case of any report-related doubts, you can contact the SMT team via the Contact Us tab on the webpage. Or reach out to your electric provider for guidance.

How Do Smart Meters Help You Save Money?

There is no doubt that smart meters save money for your local Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU), but it can also help you reduce your energy bills.

Analyze your energy spending using the energy data reports, which are available online. Based on your usage, you can set the next month’s spending goals and adjust for potential savings.

Smart meters send high-usage alerts to consumers to signal that their energy bill may be higher than usual.

With load management services and time-of-use pricing (TOU), you get a financial incentive to switch more power-consuming tasks to off-peak hours.

Meaning, with real-time data, it will become easier for you to monitor which times of the day the electricity rates are the cheapest. Some providers offer free electricity in the form of free nights and weekends plans. You can operate energy-intensive appliances like washer-dryers and dishwashers during those times.

Furthermore, you can choose pay as you go or prepaid electricity plans to have more control over your energy usage.

Other benefits include:

  • A two-way, real-time communication system
  • Readings displayed on an easy-to-read monitor at any time of the day
  • Consistent, accurate, and accessible readings on your energy consumption
  • Weekly usage reports and historic smart meter data
  • Notifications about a power outage in your area and the estimated time of restoration
  • Reduced environmental impacts due to virtual information collection and low energy usage
  • Reduced number of blackouts and power grid system-wide failures
  • Remote activation and reconnection of your service, leading to a reliable and uninterrupted power supply

Start Enjoying Reduced Bills with a Smart Meter

Texas electricity rates are different for residential and commercial customers. Also, important factors like the size of your property and the energy usage level, usually for 500, 1,000, and 2,000 kWh (kilowatt-hours), influence your monthly bills.

When choosing the right plan for your needs, analyze your smart meter readings to understand how much energy you consume.

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