Electric utilities are advancing in their programs to swap out old inefficient power meters with new 2 way devices. With new metering capabilities homeowners will have powerful options in energy usage and management. The big buzz now trending is time-of-use, or dynamic electricity pricing. Most homeowners today pay a one-size-fits-all price for electricity (the kilowatt hour is the unit of measure) and have no incentive to alter their consumption in response to price fluctuations.

 Today, with new integrated systems, homeowners are getting a text message from their smart meter, telling them to hit #99 on their smartphone to turn on the dishwasher at just the right time.
The goal of smart meters is twofold. Two way meters can communicate with the utility and provide real-time demand data. Secondly, the process of smart metering will allow homeowners to manage when they use electricity and leverage special promotions that utilities will offer. Daytime electricity generation is the most expensive but if utilities can reduce daytime generation and move it to evening or late night there is a lot of money to be saved and eventually passed on to homeowners.

On August 9th, the Pennsylvania. Public Utility Commission authorized PECO, the Philadelphia area provider, to install 1.6 million smart meters. In PA consumers cannot opt out of the program. This is not true however, in all states.

Smart meters have been around for 10 years and newer technology is fueling the trend. A few years back there were health and safety concerns but the industry seems to have worked out those problems. Privacy advocates also caution on "too much info" being sent to the power company.  Currently there is an estimated 10 million homes that have some type of metering technology installed. Some states that are rolling out the programs are getting push back from homeowners (Article from Texas) who say they are being forced to use the new meters against their will.  Contact your local Public Utility Commission to convey your concerns. Let's say you pay 7.9 cents for a Kilowatt (1,000 watts of electricity). Utilities will offer you 20% savings if you use electricity after 8 pm or even more after 11 pm when generation costs the least. Your smart meter will communicate just how much you use and when you use it. In many states that had energy deregulation, competing energy suppliers may entice new customers with "free electricity every Wednesday for two months".  It won't be long before you see offers form banks and credit card companies offering similar deals to sign up for a new service.

With rapidly advancing technology in the home automation industry, fueled by WiFi networks, your smart phone will communicate with your smart meter and tell you the optimal time to turn on the dishwasher or do the wash!

Stay tuned, this is going to be fun. Visit your electric utility's website and that of your state public utility commission.