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"Smart" Electric Meters - Anyone have one?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Medman, Mar 27, 2009.

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  1. Medman

    Medman Feeling the Heat

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    Since installing my EKO 25 and switching from woodstove in living room with electric heat in bedrooms, I have been able to reduce my electric bill by about half. My last two billing periods, 29 and 31 days, showed consumption less than 900 kW. Now my electric utility is introducing "smart meters" which track consumption based on the time of use. I'm wondering if any of you have these meters and how they affected your billing.
    Most of my consumption is at night/on weekends for clothes drying, lighting, cooking etc. I heat DHW with the sidearm, so no electricity is used for DHW.

    Any thoughts?

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  2. James Gautsch

    James Gautsch Member

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    Hello Big Brother! Welcome to our house.
  3. Medman

    Medman Feeling the Heat

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    According to the news release, customers can save on average about $4.00 per month, based on studies conducted in three cities in the province. However, it will cost $4.00 per month more in service charges for the residential customer to pay for the smart meter. I don't think I will realize a savings here, because I already use about half of the average amount of electricity. I know that this is good for the grid and will help reduce consumption by making people more aware of their usage, but it has no benefit for those of us who have been reducing our usage all along. In the end, I will be paying more per month. Perhaps the utility should recognize those of us who have already significantly reduced our consumption.
  4. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    That's rather crazy.

    They do dual metering here, for customers with electric-based heat (resistive heaters or heat pumps) and electric water heaters. The heat/DHW is on one meter, and the rest of the house on another. They give a discount for the heat rate, with the caveat that they can shut it off for up to four hours at a time, if they need to reduce the load on the grid. They have rarely exercised that privilege, from what I hear, plus they will only do that for customers who have a woodstove, pellet stove, or such, so it's a rather good deal.

    Since a number of folks use electric backup to their wood system (boiler, furnace, stove, etc.), that is something to check with your local utility about. There's no added cost here, other than paying an electrician for the initial wiring of a second (small) panel.

    They do also have off-peak rates, but the difference is tiny when compared to on-peak, so it doesn't make much sense to go out of the way to take advantage of it.

    Joe
  5. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I'd give your utility co a call and see what exactly their rate schedule is, then estimate when you use your power to get an idea if the new scheme is helping/hurting you. Trouble is, big brother...er...the utility co...can probably change the rates/times to suit any whim or pattern they see developing, then you may pinched. The problem with the scheme is they must assume your 'peak demand' is arbitrary usage like maybe you have a couple dozen 100 watt lightbulbs running just for the heck of it and wouldn't mind shutting them off. But when it comes to basic needs like heat in the middle of winter or AC in the sweltering summer, there is not a lot you can do to moderate the 'need' for those.
  6. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    If PSNH were worried about their grid, they would offer a substantial rate differential for off-peak usage. That's what utilities do in areas where the grid is under stress due to peak usage. Since they don't do that, and since I can't seem to recall us having any load-related grid failures being reported in the news, here, I'm just going to assume that PSNH knows their grid better than you do, and that they consider it up to the task at hand.

    If some future developments change that, I'm sure they will make their customers aware, and offer incentives to use off-peak power.

    Joe
  7. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Factual? Like the fact that New Hampshire gets virtually no power from windmills? The American Wind Energy Association lists NH has having 25.4MW of operating wind farms. That's about a quarter of a percent of the power that we use here...

    Joe
  8. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    NH and ME both export a large amount of electricity, there is not much need or call for reduced power usage in either state. CMP (central maine power) sends out flyers each sumer encouraging us to "fire up that electric grill" and not a thing about cutting back on our power usage even on those days when MA and south is warning everyone to save power to reduce brownouts. Giving us a reduced rate for smart meters up here would just be about big brother, just like the president want us all to do. (the smart grid)
  9. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    A reduction in voltage on the line. That can be caused by insufficient supply to meet the demand, as is common in places like CA. Or it can be caused by stretching of lines or other damage that occurs due to weather, cars crashing into poles, and whatnot, as well as by equipment failures (distribution transformers and the like).

    Another cause can be power synchronicity problems - every generating station needs to be producing power that is at the same frequency, and the same phase, as every other station (within a margin of error). If you feed out-of-phase power into the grid, the resulting composite waveform is going to involve interference, which will cause higher or lower net voltages, depending upon where the phases line up (you can see the extremes of this when you use two opposing phases to get 220V, even though each phase only has 120V, or if you put a volt meter on two same-phase points and read zero differential). Phase irregularity is the real reason that connecting a generator to a non-isolated circuit is bad for the grid, and why grid-tie inverters used by folks producing small-scale power for net metering are so expensive.

    Any more questions?

    Exactly. Encouraging off-peak usage makes a lot of sense in areas where the grid is under-supplied. In areas where they have a massive surplus of power, it makes no sense at all. Hence, why PSNH, CMP, and other providers in areas like that offer little if any incentive to off-peak users.

    Joe
  10. ulooknatme

    ulooknatme New Member

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    I've had the computerized meter for 10 years now. If used properly it can save you some bucks. It works on a time sch and the sch changes for winter and summer. During the winter, from 9pm till 7am I pay 10.8 cents 1000kw. From 7am to 11am and 2pm till 5pm it goes up to 12.7 cents. All other times are peak which is 14.6 cents. Friday night at 9 till monday morning at 7 is off peak...10.8 cents. my dryer is electric so we do all the laundry on week-ends. Looking at my bill I used 541kwh off peak...128kwh intermediate and 257kwh peak. hope this helps!
  11. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Plan on paying more, especially when our (USA) lovely national government gets carbon tax laws passed. There goes the tax cut for the middle-class.

    While I understand the benefit for leveling the power demand, mainly in bringing down the peaks, I fully expect the time-dependent power rates, while allowing you to manage you loads (laundry/dishwasher/cloths dryer..maybe even some baths) to lower your electric cost, your cost will still be higher that it is today. Yes, the cost will be lower than if you put your discretionary on-line during the peak load-cost periods, but don't expect to have any new money to spend on recreation.

    As for big brother, he's getting bigger faster than ever these days. Where is the civil liberties union when we need them?
  12. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

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  13. Medman

    Medman Feeling the Heat

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    Rate schedule to be determined at this point. Dual meter setup is not an option, and utility control of loads was phased out here years ago. Right now there is a "penalty" charge for using more than 1000 kW during the billing period - rate increases for each kW used over 1000 in increments of 500 kW. In the trial cities, rates were established for peak, mid-peak, and off-peak hours, weekends, holidays, etc. and varied by season, number of daylight hours, degree days and a myriad of other factors which make getting a true cost nearly impossible.
    I have already done a lot to reduce my consumption here, and not just for cost savings but also to be more earth-friendly. I intend to go further this summer by installing solar collectors to heat my DHW. I thinking that there should be some recognition by the utility for residential customers, like me, who are reducing consumption on a large scale. If photovoltaic was more affordable and reliable here I would be investing in PV too. I don't have enough land (by local ordinance) to put in a windmill either. If I did, it would already be up and running, since I live right next to the largest wind farm in Canada (at time of writing).
  14. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Including in areas where the grid doesn't overload, because it is more than adequate to supply the full load of the connected end-users?

    What sense does that make?

    Wow. Does anyone without electric heat actually manage that? I live in an old farmhouse with an electric stove and electric dryer, and I'd still be hard pressed to use more than 450kWh in a month...

    Joe
  15. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Sure. Anybody that lives where it is 90+ degrees in the summer. I know it is a shock, but there is life outside the Northeast. :lol:
  16. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Medman lists his location as "Northern Ontario."

    Joe
  17. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I know. But the question was "does anybody".
  18. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    One special case where a time of use meter can be quite valuable is with grid tied solar. In many parts of California, the best time to generate power with Solar is also the highest cost power, so anyone who is selling to the grid during these periods gets paid the high rate during the day and tends to buy the power back in the evening when the rates are lower. It really helps the payback for the solar equipment.

    Unfortunately I cant take advantage of it in NH as the utility charges an extra fee for time of use metering and it offsets what little power I could sell back to the grid. Still nice to see the meter spinning backwards.
  19. Medman

    Medman Feeling the Heat

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    Before installing the EKO, I was using 1900 to 2100 KWh per month in winter at a total average cost including delivery of about 10 cents per kWh.
    Bills average $200+ in winter using woodstove and elec. heat, clothes dryer etc.,-half that in summer due to no AC and using the clothesline. Some of my neighbours with similar-sized houses and no wood, just electric heat (either baseboard or forced air) are seeing bills in the $600 range this year.

    The utility has indicated that the delivery charge here is going to increase in the future (soon) to pay for the transition away from coal generation (about 20% of total generation) to new nuclear, wind, and solar development. Hydroelectric generation is still the main source of electricity here, and also why most people here refer to electricity as 'hydro' as in "How long has the hydro been off at your house?"
  20. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    My house is all electric, and I use about over 1000KWH per month average. I have a geothermal heat pump for heat and air conditioning. In the off months: April-early June and late Sept to mid Nov, I must use more in the range of 800 KWH. I can't control my wife's use, but I hang laundry outside whenever possible and use high efficiency lamps in most fixtures.

    What we need is more capacity, now about a few new nuclear and a few natural gas on domestic supplies power plants?

    The time-of-day pricing is fine with me, so long at the government keeps its hands out of it. Let the market work.
  21. Chris B

    Chris B Member

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    Hi.There was a article printed in the Toronto Star not to long ago. That stated if a smart meter was installed in your home, you would have to reduce your hydro consumption by 40% to break even. 40% I don't know how we are going to do that, we already take measures to reduce our consumption. So guess what our electrical bill is going to go up.
    The government should seriously be looking at helping home owners. That want to install DHW systems on there roof tops with some financial intensives. Or other smaller hydro producing systems that would help the production.
    There are some 4 million roof tops that face the sky in Ontario alone. What if only 25% would install some kind of DHW system, what kind of dent would that put into the hydro demand.
  22. woodmeister

    woodmeister New Member

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    The largest utility in this area is in the process of installing 5000 smart meters as a pilot program. They are doing commercial and residential installs. Off peak rates and the ability to reduce load during peak usage is their reasoning for this. When you look at what these things are capable of if fully utilized it really points to big brother and the eye in the sky.
  23. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Don't know about Canada, but with our current "green" federal government we'll all be paying a lot more for energy, and it will not be due to supply and demand, it will be because of the ongoing impossible regulatory environment for nuclear power generation and development of domestic natural gas and oil. But here in the US we are all now getting the "big middle class" income tax cut. That may offset about 1% of the governmental driven (over-managed) increase in the cost of power and everything else. So, like the smart meter, forget about saving money, just hope you can save your life.
  24. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Big brother, yes, knowledge is strength and control... now we can be told when we can and can't use and big brother will know.

    Again, I'm all in favor of the ability to shift discretionary loads to off peak times, and lower rates is an incentive. But, with talk recently in California (an with Pelosi that's just a step short of USA) of government control of thermostats.. we're big brother big time. Smart meters a win-win possibility , but our current USA government will find a way to use it to control you and me.
  25. Chris B

    Chris B Member

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    The government here wants to spend billions here in nuclear electricity. It is supposed to be the environmental friendly way to generate electricity what a load of @#@$^%$t. If the people only know how long a half life of a spent fuel rod is you might think twice. If they would only invest some of that money to significantly help out the little guy to off set his consumption.
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