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Published on
January 7th, 2021

Smart Electric Meter: What Is It and Can It Benefit Condo/Apartments?

If you are a property owner or manager in New York City, you’ve probably heard that Con Edison, the city’s power utility, is planning to install almost five million smart electric meters between now and 2022. If you’re not sure what that means for you and your tenants, read on to learn all about this new initiative and the many advantages it brings to New York City residents.

What Is a Smart Electric Meter?

Wireless power meter technology

You are likely already familiar with “smart” devices, such as smartphones and smart TVs. Smart electric meters harness that same technology for power utilities and their customers. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, over 94 million households around the country had smart meters installed in 2019, including both residential and commercial customers.

These new meters can send remote readings to the utility company, rather than having an employee physically read the meters at every property around the city. The information is sent wirelessly using low-energy radiofrequency waves.

What Are the Benefits of a Smart Electric Meter?

Faster and easier

Smart electric meters are designed to make sharing information about energy consumption faster and easier. As well as saving on labor for the utility company, smart meters provide information for electricity users that was never available before.

Customers, as well as the utility provider, have instant online access to electricity consumption data in near real-time. This allows users to modify their usage if they see their energy costs increasing. Con Edison lets account holders set up high-bill alerts, and smart meters do away with estimated bills.

Other advantages include:

  • No need to be home or allow access for meter readers
  • Less complicated connection between solar energy and the grid
  • Easier activation or transfer of electrical service
  • Faster restoration of power after outages
  • Ability for consumers to make more environmentally friendly energy choices
  • More balanced electrical loads for the power utility
  • Lowered need for new power plants
  • Rapid alerts sent to the utility when neighborhoods experience power loss

If you are a landlord who has not yet submetered the property, you may see additional savings on your electric bills. You can use the data from your smart meter to make better decisions about electricity use in your building or to modify your plan with Con Edison to take advantage of discounts and better rates.

Are There Disadvantages to Smart Electric Meters?

Minimal short-term cons

Experts agree there are few disadvantages to using smart electric meters, and most of those are short-term. In New York City, installation is quick, and there is only a brief interruption in electrical service required. To minimize disruption, Con Edison sends a postcard to property owners 45 days prior to installation. Outside meters require nothing further from the building owner. Installation of indoor meters means someone must be there to provide access, and appointments for this type of installation can be scheduled in advance.

While power utilities, including Con Edison, follow standard protocols to protect their customers’ personal data and only collect information related to electricity usage, some people have privacy worries about using smart meters. For now, New York City property owners can opt out of smart meter installation if they don’t want one, although we don’t recommend this. Be aware that Con Edison has the right to install an automated meter-reading device or smart meter if they are unable to obtain access for a physical meter reading on four consecutive bimonthly meter-reading dates.

Some people also have concerns about the radio frequency signals emitted by smart meters. However, the same science used by smart electric meters is employed wherever wireless technology is found, including wifi routers, baby monitors, and cell phones. In fact, smart electric meters use even lower levels of signal strength than these common devices, and the meters have been rigorously studied and found safe by the Federal Communications Commission, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization.

Smart technology is clearly the wave of the future and offers many benefits to users. There’s really no reason for property owners not to embrace this technology. Do you have questions about smart meter installation at your property? Perhaps your smart electric meter installation is the perfect time to also submeter your property. We’re happy to answer your questions and help with your electric meter issues. Call Bolt Electric at 212-434-0098 or reach out online to schedule an appointment.

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