As the world around us becomes increasingly digital, we're becoming more and more dependent on reliable forms of energy. But, at what financial cost? Estimated bills are hardly accurate, and utility companies have to spend money on labour to read meters manually. There's also the impact of the demand for energy on the environment.
Smart metres are gaining popularity because of their ability to meet the needs of consumers and businesses who want to use real-time energy data to control costs, reduce their environmental footprint, and use energy more efficiently. In fact, a report by Research and Markets forecasts a 9% growth in the global smart metre market by 2026.
This means that smart meters will soon become the norm in many areas, and therefore, the need for smart metering applications in smart cities has never been so vital. This article explores how smart metres work and the growing need for smart metering applications. You’ll also learn about the types of smart metering applications and how you can benefit from them
Smart metering is the use of modern metering devices to monitor the consumption of resources. These metering devices are usually called smart metres. And, they utilize IoT technology to enable connection to the internet and other devices.
When most people think of smart metres, they think of energy or electricity metres. However, while they are popularly used for monitoring electricity consumption, smart metres have other use cases. In smart cities, they can also be used to monitor water and gas consumption.
Thus, smart metres installed in smart cities and homes record data related to electricity, water and gas consumption. These data or readings are automatically transmitted to utility companies at intervals for accurate billing.
The data are also analysed and processed into valuable information to efficiently supply and prevent waste of resources. Smart metres also have an in-home display monitor where individuals can access information about their resources consumption.
Smart metres have been around for several years now, but they’re growing in popularity as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes increasingly commonplace in our daily lives. In fact, recent surveys reveal that most energy companies are planning to implement smart metering solutions in every household within the next decade.
Although smart metres were initially sought by utility companies to help reduce the cost of manual metre reads, other factors such as the need to reduce billings and the demand for green tech are now contributing to the growing need for smart metres. It is estimated that by 2028, 59% of the world is expected to be utilising smart electricity metres, with continuous investment in grid intelligence and edge computing technology.
So, if you’re interested in investing in this growing industry, now’s the time to do it. Continue reading to learn more about smart metering and smart solutions so you can make an informed decision about whether to jump on this opportunity.
Although the growing need for smart electricity metres is more apparent, as previously mentioned, smart metres have other use cases. Here are the three types of smart metering applications used in smart cities.
In general, most of us don’t think too much about our electricity usage; we simply pay a certain amount every month, and that’s it. But what if there was a way to better visualize your energy consumption? What if you could see exactly how much power you’re using every day and how much money you were spending on energy bills as a result?
Electric utility companies worldwide are upgrading electricity metres with smart technology that can report metre readings wirelessly. This enables you to track your electricity consumption, and makes it easier for companies to keep tabs on electricity supply and identify potential issues.
As water costs rise and water shortages become more prevalent, municipalities are looking for ways to cut down on wasted water. Smart water metres have risen in popularity as a way for people to track their water consumption and cut down on leaks and wasted water.
Cities can also use smart metres to estimate future needs and more efficiently manage resources by knowing what’s coming next in terms of demand. Furthermore, metres can be integrated with sensors to collect data on water quality, pressure and temperature.
Natural gas will remain a major source of fuel for decades to come. However, there’s a waste problem and its impact on the environment. Like the other types of smart metres, smart gas metres allow the monitoring of gas consumption by power companies and consumers. And, with IoT tech, it can be connected to other smart devices to automate tasks that manage gas usage and prevent waste.
Smart metres offer several benefits to utility companies and consumers, some of which are outlined below.
Smart metres enable automated metre reading and transmission to utility companies. So, there’s no need for manual metre reading and submission to the utility company. Neither do you have to deal with a utility staff coming to your home monthly to read the meter.
With a smart metering application, you can see exactly how much electricity, water or gas you’re consuming. And not just the resources units, but also the associated costs. With this, you can adjust habits or replace appliances costing you so much.
Utility companies often estimate bills when readings are not manually recorded. But, with smart metres automatically sending your consumption readings, utility companies are able to bill you for the exact unit of electricity, water or gas you use.
With smart metres enabling real-time monitoring, you would be able to notice sudden spikes caused by faulty appliances quickly. This helps avoid harmful events that may occur and enable you to fix the problem quickly and safely.
Smart metres encourage consumers to change behaviours that affect the environment. For instance, with the information provided by smart metres on the in-house display, you’re more inclined to opt for more energy-efficient appliances and utilize resources outside peak hours.
The cost of utilities often depends on whether it’s used during peak or off-peak hours – usually cheaper off-peak. Smart metres provide information on time of use pricing, which you can leverage to reduce the cost of utilities.
The real-time usage information and pricing information provided by smart metres enable you to use energy more efficiently and reduce consumption. With a smart metre, you’ll be able to decide when it’s more efficient to use what appliance.
With all of the benefits outlined above, evidently new cities need smart metres to become smart and sustainable. In addition to an easier billing process, smart metres help cities ensure the efficient use of utilities and the reduction in the cost of utilities, which improves residents’ satisfaction.
Smart metering application can be used to offer residents incentives to use utilities more efficiently. For instance, offering cheaper pricing at off-peak hours to encourage residents to use power-consuming appliances outside peak hours, thereby reducing the strain on the grid.
Smart metres also enable utility companies to estimate the state of utilities, and if and where work needs to be done. It helps to quickly detect and respond to problems, such as outages, busted pipes, and gas leakages.
Overall, with a smart metering application, smart cities can monitor each smart metre in every building in the city to manage its utilities better. This mean access to real-time data that can be utilized to understand the flow of resources and forecast future demands.
Without the ability to connect to the internet and other smart applications, a device cannot be considered smart. Hence, IoT makes smart applications smart by enabling them to connect with each other and share data/information over the internet.
IoT provides a two-way secure communication system for transmitting data between smart applications. Beyond the transmission ability, IoT also enables smart applications to send and receive commands based on analysed data.
As previously explained, smart metres collect and transmit data on electricity, water, and gas consumption to utility companies and consumers. Here’s the role IoT plays to make this possible.
On their own, metres can read and record data, but are unable to connect to the internet to transmit the data. IoT enables the transmission of the data over LoRaWAN to an online server or visualization platform, where the data is processed and utilized.
Furthermore, IoT makes it possible for smart metres to be connected with other smart devices to automate tasks. With IoT, you can control appliances like refrigerators and air conditioning units, as well as lighting and heating.
For instance, a smart metre can communicate an increase in electricity consumption to room sensors to adjust the lighting in a room or turn off the air-conditioner automatically when there’s no one in the room.
Here’s another example. Imagine that you’re at work, and you get an alert from your smart water metre about the water usage in your bathroom at home. What do you do? With IoT, you can remotely turn off the tap, or the mains supply in the case of a leaky pipe.
A unified operations centre, also known as a command-and-control centre, provides a centralised view of the data received from smart metres. It enables different teams in a utility company to gain real-time access to data and take necessary actions quickly, thereby improving operational efficiency.
For instance, if the collected data indicates there’s been a power outage at a location, a unified operation centre will enable the engineering or technical team to access the data directly and take action to fix the cause of the outage promptly.
Similarly, a unified operation centre enables consumers to access smart metre data anywhere and anytime. For instance, it’s impossible to carry the smart metre in-house display everywhere you go. And you can access the unified operation centre on your mobile phone from anywhere.
Smart metering utilizes IoT technology to enable consumers and utility companies access real-time data on electricity, water, and gas consumption. These data are then used for billing purposes, to reduce costs and prevent waste of resources.
Essentially, smart metering contributes to improved, efficient, and sustainable living. Hence, the need for smart metering applications in smart cities will keep growing. Smart cities across the globe will continue to leverage smart metres with IoT tech to gather insightful data that help improve the efficient use of electricity, water and gas.
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