Smart meters are residential water meters equipped with a wireless transmitter, allowing them to send usage data to the utility company for water billing. Utilities have several reasons for using smart meters that range from minimising costs associated with reading residential water meters manually each month, to being able to monitor the performance of their infrastructure remotely, and provide bills more accurately based on actual usage rather than an estimate.
The biggest benefit of smart meters is the possibility to provide more accurate bills, which has a direct influence on residential budgeting and planning for water usage in general. It can also help to identify leaks or other problems with the residential water system in order to prevent further damage and extra costs. Furthermore, in areas where residential water meters are read manually, smart meters can reduce the time taken for reading residential water meters which translates into extra cost savings.
Another benefit is that residential customers will be able to monitor their own usage, and if necessary make adjustments in their daily lifestyle habits so as to become more efficient with residential water use. This gives consumers some responsibility over their water usage and indirectly encourages them to become more conscious about residential water conservation.
The biggest problem with smart meters is the concern over privacy, which could be a potential issue if residential customers find their data being sold or used for other purposes without their consent or knowledge. In addition, there have been concerns raised over the possible interference of smart meters with household appliances, which could potentially lead to malfunctions of the appliance.
The main purpose of residential water meters is to bill residential customers for their usage of residential water by measuring the volume of residential water that has passed through it. Most residential water meters are manually read by utility workers, who physically visit each residential customer’s home once per month to read their residential water meter. In areas where residential water meters are read manually, the time taken to physically visit residential customers and read their respective residential meters can be a costly exercise for utility companies. Thus by saving on this time, smart meters have the potential to result in cost savings for utilities over a period of time.