Hackernoon logoWhat is Smart Metering? - Safe and Responsible Consumption by@Softengi

What is Smart Metering? - Safe and Responsible Consumption

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@SoftengiSoftengi

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In this article, you can learn more about smart metering and its applications, among which are leak detectors. Why are these sensors important? Let's start with an example.

Have you ever collected birch sap? 

It drips very slowly, however, almost a liter of birch sap can run overnight.

The same thing is with a tap that drips all night, or even for days. Maybe for someone the amount of lost water is insignificant, but constant dampness near the sink can lead to fungal infections. What if it’s not the tap that is leaking, but the pipe under the sink? It is very unlikely that it will be immediately noticed.

Then, when the pipe finally breaks, it can cause serious troubles to neighbours apart from financial expenses. In this article, we will discuss leak sensors, in-home display (IHD), and solar panels to understand how these technologies will make consumption less risky and more responsible.

According to Business Insider Intelligence, smart meters have become the top IoT device among utility companies in the last several years, and considering the value that they bring, it looks reasonable.

The Benefits of Using Smart Metering for Water

1. Determining Accurate Tariffs.
Tap water below 40°C is considered cold. 

However, most utility companies charge their clients for it as if they were using hot water. What counters do we use? Conventional mechanical counters. However, there are already meters with a thermal sensor, which not only transmit meter readings, but also the water temperature. For some reason, they are not widely applied, almost never in older houses. Perhaps, the reason lies in the water temperature.

Utility companies have to provide discounts on warm water if the temperature is below 50°C, applying a cold water tariff if it is necessary. Using less hot water is one of the tips on reducing bills from the US Government. 

2. Preventing Leaks

Now back to the leaking taps and pipes. So, when leaving home they usually say “check the light'. What about water? Why doesn't it need to be checked? Water is just as important as light considering the damage a leak can cause. So, the tap is closed, just dripping a little, probably there is a little damp somewhere. 

Can IoT water meter devices turn off the water themselves? Yes, they can, when setting an object for alarm!

Apart from that, smart meters for water can:

  • separately open the water supply for household appliances, for instance, a washing machine. 
  • turn on the water for plant watering when no one is at home. 
  • inform and prevent any leak on time saving time and many to tenants and landlords

Smart Meters for Electricity

1. Using In-Home Displays to See How Much you Spend

In the modern world, where most operations and processes go digital, problem identification becomes much easier and faster. When paying for electricity, householders have to understand why it costs so much.

How to easily understand how much energy you are using in real-time as well as how much it actually costs, for instance, if you boil a kettle? The answer is In-Home Display.

It is a small electronic screen that shows your energy usage in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and money ($).

It is wirelessly connected to smart meters and updates every few seconds with your electricity usage. As a result, users can track their energy use, optimize spendings, and lead a more environment-friendly lifestyle. In addition to electricity usage visualisation, these displays also show gas consumption.

The data on gas use is continuously being collected and stored for a rather long period, which, as a result, allows to get a clear view of gas consumption for a various period of time, for instance, a day, a week, a month, and even a year. Besides, users can also set a budget. When reached the limit value, the display will immediately inform. Quite a useful alarm if there is a Feed-in Tariff for the first few kW per month.

2. Combining smart meters with solar panels

Energy prices increase every year. However, due to global warming and climate shifts, summer comes earlier. Therefore, in many countries, governments are already offering special solar panel grants to promote the use of solar energy.

Also, some state services even provide a smart export guarantee.

Solar panels are placed on the roof of a house if its construction allows. Other kinds of solar panels can be placed near a house and equipped with special devices that track the sun's movements with special solar trackers.

There are even cone-shaped solar panels with a diameter of about one meter to the cone’s ability to constantly rotate, they continuously generate energy for consumption. Such panels also provide sufficient photocells cooling, which prolongs their service life.

Smart Meters can work with solar panels very effectively! 

Also, they can transmit energy information directly to suppliers. As a result, tenants can switch from consumers of solar energy to their sellers, trading their energy surplus to the government at a 'green tariff'.

Moreover, it is not clear how this energy will be sold after the ‘green’ tariff expires. On the other hand, solar panels have a lifespan of about 20 years. For an average private house, panels pay off in about 3-5 years.

Due to constant technology advancements, the payback period for solar panels may also become shorter, which may lead to significant spreading of solar farms. It will be especially relevant for small settlements. Solar panels also increase ROI on investments in solar energy.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, a smart meter provides valuable information on energy consumption, which allows users to optimize electricity and water usage. They can be an ultimate help in case of any emergency and can also “do their homework” when you are absent: water flowers, use water for a washing machine. 

More than that, with smart meters, consumption becomes not only safe but smart as well. With the in-home display, users can learn how much energy they consume in terms of money. 

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