Smart Metering’s Coming Impact on Energy Use

May 7, 2018

Wireless smart meters are gaining momentum in replacing conventional electric and gas meters in pioneering cities in North America, Europe, China and India. And, with the multiple benefits presented by smart meters, these cities are likely just the beginning of a long-lasting transformation in city infrastructure.

Street view of a city at night at a crosswalk. Motion blur from headlights and tail lights on both sides of the crosswalk.

Smart meters transmit usage data across networks in real-time to help with everything from driving meter reading efficiency to helping optimize usage by providing consumers with increased transparency. Smart metering also enables energy-saving measures like remote monitoring, which streamlines energy use throughout a locale. Imagine being able to control your business thermostat from anywhere in the world through an app, or as a provider, to have instant access to energy use data across the city with just a few taps on your phone screen. Smart metering can make it possible.

Why low cat LTE is the Best Route for Connecting Smart Cities

Current estimates project that by 2020, more than 8.4 billion devices will be connected through IoT, and the efficiencies associated with low cat LTE including Narrowband IoT (Nb-IoT) and LTE-M are among the main reasons for the anticipated growth.

Low cat LTE (NB-IoT & LTE-M) is a low-bit rate 4G cellular technology engineered to serve those with needs that span a wide coverage range and require penetrating indoor and underground areas with ease and precision – making it ideal for connecting to occasionally hard-to-reach utility closets. Because low catLTE uses relatively little power, its batteries are designed to last in the ballpark of 10 years, reducing the need for routine meter maintenance and the associated financial and logistical difficulties. Plus, since the technology operates on a licensed spectrum, transferred data is secure and metering processes are far less susceptible to data  breaches.

Because this technology offers extended coverage range, extended battery life, the ability to deploy and maintain devices at a much lower cost than previous options, and a significant measure of data security, it is an ideal way to garner connectivity with a very large number of remote devices when reliability is key. Not surprisingly, these advantages will soon lead to it being integrated into large-scale infrastructure programs that power the cities and homes we live in.

The Positive Impact of Smart Meter IoT

How will smart meters save money for consumers AND energy companies?

Compared to traditional meters, smart energy meter benefits include faster outage detection, more insight into energy-use habits, more informed decision-making abilities for utilities and consumers alike, and progress toward a Smart Grid – a broad electricity supply network that reacts to local changes in usage through IoT communication.

Smart Grid solutions potentially include power-saving features like wireless charging for smart cars, energy co-generation from alternate sources like solar and wind, facilities management, home automation, and better security and surveillance through design.  Before wide-spread changes are made in that direction, countries are looking to smart metering to test the viability of IoT connected energy supply.

Powering Up in the UK

Across the UK, consumers and providers alike are optimistic about smart meters since, if implemented correctly, they could make meter-reading obsolete and lead to much fewer billing complaints. They could also open the possibility for off-peak deals like “cut-price electricity at night, or when there is a plentiful supply because wind turbines are working at full capacity”, according to a recent article in the Guardian.

Smart Energy GB, an independent organization calling itself the “voice of the smart meter rollout” in Great Britain, cites several positive trends among current rollouts throughout Wales, Scotland and England. According to their findings and analysis:

  • 79% of people with smart meters would recommend one to others
  • 80% of people with a smart meter have taken at least one step to reduce their energy use
  • 84% of those with a smart meter say they have a better understanding of their energy costs
  • 78% of homes with an in-home display (IHD) check it regularly

Major cities are showing a growing awareness of smart meter technology, but how does it actually save consumers and power providers money?

Cost-Saving Facts on Smart Metering

New data taken from governments around the world using smart meter technology shows promise. In November 2017, ScienceDirect released a report funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council that sheds new light on energy consumption through smart metering.

According to the report the “residential energy sector accounts for 23 [percent] of total energy consumption worldwide, placing it third after industry at 37 [percent] and transportation at 28 [percent].” The results of the study concluded that utilizing an IHD paired with “continuous energy feedback” created higher energy literacy for smart meter users.

The report boasts the following highlights:

  • Energy feedback provided to consumers via smart meters could save5–15% of total energy costs
  • With feedback in place, consumer energy literacy increased from 0.52 to 1.28 (on a 0–4 scale)
  • Gas consumption was reduced: 22.0% overall and 27.2% in high consumers
  • Engagement is high, with 82% of the participants finding the system useful
  • Smart meters can pay back their installation costs in 4 years if the energy savings are 3% or more

This leads to savings both in consumer pockets and in the power company’s infrastructure through fewer service calls, fewer power failures, automated utility management and billing, smarter usage, and a more even distribution and framework.

Telit Provides low cat LTE (NB-IoT and LTE-M) Solutions for Smart Cities

Telit, a pioneer in IoT solutions, is helping to build smarter, greener cities across the globe. Telit’s IoT solutions for smart cities enable government organizations and other power resource partners to create safer, more efficient cities by improving community resources for everyone. For a crash course on how low cat LTE solutions can improve your city – and your bottom line – contact Telit today.

Smart Meterings Coming Impact on Energy Use - Free IoT Project Review