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Smart meters 101

So you’ve decided to install an interval meter in your facility — now what? Making the switch to energy efficient technology obviously means you’re looking to save money, but where do you start?  Tracking your energy usage patterns isn’t hard once you know what to look for. That’s why we’ve made a short list of the steps you can take to get the most out of your switch to smarter facility controls.

Where to get a smart meter:

Join a demand response program – FREE

There’s no downside here. Businesses in deregulated energy markets that choose to enroll in a demand response program (like PowerPay) can qualify for a free smart meter installation. This comes with the ability to track your energy usage with an online dashboard that makes usage data easy to read and understand.

Purchase through your utility company – $150 to $550

Depending on where you are, making green business decisions can come with a big price tag. What’s worse is that installing a smart meter is really only the first step in curbing your energy usage — you have to also do your research to see what the options are for accessing your data from these suppliers.

Smart appliance companies – $160 to $200

You might recognize the name from your household refrigerator or dishwasher — but buying from an appliance company may not be the most cost-efficient choice. While a lot of these meters are designed to be easy to install yourself, you also take the risk of doing it wrong. Even worse, you’d have to ask your contractor buddy for help and deal with never living that down (yes, we’ve all been there.)

What to keep in mind:

Property taxes

While many tax jurisdictions assess standard meters as personal property, certain exemptions might apply to smart meters depending on where you are located. In addition, certain areas allow taxpayers to exclude the cost of the monitoring software from tax assessments.

What not to worry about:

Health risks

There was great concern for the potential health risks of having a piece of technology emitting radio frequencies (how your smart meter talks to utilities) in a place where you spend a lot of time. This was investigated by the California Council on Science and Technology back in 2011. The study showed that compared to cell phones and microwaves, there was such a minimal amount of radio waves emitted that there was literally no reason to be worried about health risks.

Privacy

If hacked, the power grid would be a wealth of information even in the absence of smart meters. Like any other learning-technology, your usage patterns are tracked to better help you save and curb your energy costs. The question to ask when installing a smart meter (much like anything else for your business) is “is this worth the risk?” Your company didn’t hesitate to jump on the email bandwagon, so why not continue to embrace emerging technologies?

A few states’ utilities have already made switching to a smart meter mandatory. If you’re already thinking about upgrading — you’re ahead of the game. As a facility owner you want to keep your processes running smoothly, and advancements in technology and building controls (like smart meters) are some of the best tools for ensuring the longevity of your business.

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