What Electricity Meter Do I Have?
Meters are used to record the amount or electricity you use to ensure that your bill is accurate. There are several different types of electricity meter but ultimately you will either have an old (basic) meter or a new smart meter.
Old (basic) meters
Single rate meters
Also know as ‘accumulation’ or ‘Flat Rate’ meters, these only measure a household’s or business’ total electricity consumption and therefore if you have one of these types you will be charged the same rate for electricity, whatever time of day you use it. Single Rate meters either have a cyclometer display, a dial display or a digital display. A technician from your electricity distributor will come to your house to read your meter and will then send that information to your electricity provider so that they can work out your bill.
Time of Use meters
Time of Use, or Interval, meters record the electricity used every 30 minutes, meaning that you have real time information about the energy you use. They also provide the opportunity to sign up to plans that charge you less for using electricity during off peak periods. As with Single Rate meters, a technician has to come to your house but rather than note down the numbers on the display, an optical probe is attached to the communications port on the meter and half-hourly data is downloaded to the meter reader’s device. You will know you have a Time of Use meter if it is electronic and if the display shows the date and time as well as the total kWh.
Smart meters measure and record the amount of electricity consumed every half an hour, just as Time of Use meters do. There are several different types and models but they are all roughly the same size as the old meters, only with a digital display and no dial. If you live in Victoria, you should by now have a smart meter as they are compulsory across the state and the roll-out is coming to an end.
The major advantage of Smart meters is that the information is sent directly to your electricity distributor every 30 minutes (if communications has been installed on the Smart meter) so there is no need for someone to come to your house in person to read your meter. This both saves on costs and ensures that no estimated bills should ever be needed again. They can also be a useful tool to understand your household’s energy consumption, especially if you have an in-home display or access to an online energy management system.
Furthermore, because Smart meters record your electricity usage throughout the day, you would be eligible to benefit from off peak rates if you choose such a plan. Smart meters give you more control over your energy usage, allow your provider to connect and disconnect your electricity remotely (if communications has been installed on the Smart meter), ridding you of one less stress when moving house, and make it easier for the distributor to detect and respond to power outages.
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