Smart Meters

I was just reading that Kingston is about to get 1,500 “smart meters” to monitor electricity, water and gas. There are a number of benefits – from ending the the monthly “estimated” bills (and then charging more/less a few months later when the meter is actually read) to encouraging people to reduce consumption during peak times, as they’ll be charged more for it.

The article mentions that the company makes an in-house display to show the current energy consumption, but it will not be installed in this pilot study. Since it’s all computerized and collected in real-time, why not just have a web page where customers can view their use, along with graphs of their previous day or week or month’s usage? I think this really would help reduce peak usage. If people can visually see that they’re using tons of energy during that period, and getting charged the most for it, then they can do something about it.

Something I thought was interesting is the article mentions that it can be used to find leaks (from increased and constant water use). The main project I work on at work is basically this display stuff, and in fact, one of our case studies is about detecting leaks. Of course, for the smart meters, it would require having either the in-house display, or some online graphs.

It seems the company they’re using, Itron, actually does have a web-based interface. I can’t find the in-house display they talk about. Some of their meters have a display on them, but I don’t see why the city would replace meters when they could just retro-fit them.