In recent years, electric companies across the country have begun implementing a new, supposedly “smarter” way to measure their customers' electricity use: smart meters. These digital meters don't just tell us (and the electric company) how much electricity we're using, but how and when we're using it.
The first step toward sustainability is conservation, and the first step toward conservation is measuring how, when and how much electricity you use. But are these meters an invasion of our privacy as American homeowners? Scott Gordon, Senior VP of Sales for California-based solar energy installer HelioPower, sheds light on the myths and truth about smart meters.
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Dawn: Until I started doing the research, I'd never heard of a smart meter. For the uninitiated, what is a smart meter?
Scott: A smart meter is a digital replacement for your analog electric meter. With an analog meter, somebody has to come out and read it, and it just counts forward—or backward if you are a solar customer—to measure your electricity use.
A smart meter is much more sophisticated. It automatically reports back to the utility how much power a household has used. More importantly, it reports back how the customer used electricity and when they used it, so it reveals patterns of usage over the past 24 hours, 48 hours, 30 days ... any period of time.
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