My Experience With a Smart Meter

I lived in an apartment for years that had a smart meter, and despite the fact that I write about them regularly on this website, I never really paid much attention to them myself. However, I recently moved into a home with a lot more electricity usage. On top of that, I saw this quote in an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week, which I found really fascinating:

While the utility can use the meters to determine outages and track usage without meter readers, most Texas consumers have yet to take advantage of the new technology. Just 14,000 homeowners in Oncor’s territory have signed up for free access to smart meter data, Schein said. Statewide, 30,000 of about 4.5 million customers in deregulated areas have logged onto their accounts via www.SmartMeterTexas.com.

 

For all the coverage Smart Meters get in the media, only about 30,000 customers in the deregulated areas of Texas are actually using them? I found that number to be mind-blowingly small. So after seeing that quote, I decided to log in and check out my smart meter usage. Sure, I also wanted to see what the electricity usage was like in this house with the previous owners, so I could get a grasp on what kind of bills to expect. But now I had a reason to log in and take advantage of what the Smart Meter had to share with me.

So, the process is pretty simple. You visit this website: https://www.smartmetertexas.com and register a new account. It is a pretty easy process, no different than any other registration account online.

The most important piece of info you’ll need to register is your EISD number for your home or apartment and your smart meter number. The EISD # is the unique number that ERCOT and your TDSP use to track your electricity usage and tie it into your bill, and I got mine by logging into my account with my electricity provider and getting it from there. It should also be listed on a customer’s monthly bills. You’ll also need your Smart Meter ID number, which is actually listed right on the electricity meter outside your residence.

Plug all that information in, and you’ll be good to go. After you get your username, you can log in and select the Usage link to view your home’s usage. The information is typically about 2 days behind the actual day, so if you log in on a Monday, you can see your usage information from Saturday. You can select 3 graph types, one for a 15 minute segment breakdowns, one for daily totals that show a side by side summary of usage by day for the past month, and a monthly usage graph that shows the monthly household electricity consumption going back an entire year. I’ve attached screenshots of the respective graphs below:

What I Learned

So, everyone will have their own uses for this information, but here is what I was looking for and learned while I was using this free web portal.First, I wanted to have an idea of daily electricity usage that was “normal” for this home. Since the Smart Meter tracks the household, I got to see the normal usage for the previous owners, including the previous summer when everyone’s usage and bills were high because of the heat and drought. So not only could I plug this usage in with the rates on my own electricity bills and estimate what my bills would look like, I also had a benchmark to know whether or not I was using much more or much less in the same home as some other residents. I thought this was pretty good info in terms of planning and budgeting.

Additionally, after living here for a couple weeks, I could even see how my DAILY usage compared to another set of residents. And because of the 15 minute increments and breakdowns, I can see if I am using more electricity in the morning or evening, etc. Maybe this makes more sense for me to use this info to figure out if I should do my laundry in the evenings, or weekends, things such as that. Am I using more electricity than the previous occupants? Maybe I need to make a concerted effort that all lights and fans aren’t off when I’m in the room, or invest in some energy efficient drapes. Things like that.

While I don’t have an Smart Meter specific applications or tools, like a thermostat or applications on my smart phone, those things do exist and might be something I look into in the future. But for me, the most important thing this web portal and the information did for me was make me aware. It’s easy to just generally try to keep your electricity bills low with conservation, but you really DO look at things differently when you have data in front of you and can see how you compare to other people in the same home. It really does make it more cognizant of your usage.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. It’s a 5 minute registration and then you can start poking around for yourself. It’s a painless process, and I personally found it pretty interesting to view my electricity usage in a different light.

7 thoughts on “My Experience With a Smart Meter

  1. It is no surprise the site is unused. The data is 2(!) days behind. How am I supposed to track my enenrgy usage with a two day delay. I can’t believe I’ve been paying my $3 smart meter fee for years and this is the result. Are you really surprised no one is engaged in their energy use with these kinds of barriers to the data?

    The energy reseller can provide more recent data but from what I can tell only Reliant and TXU offer any kind of access to this data. Thats great when I am locked into a year long contract elsewhere.

    It also appears that you can obtain an ‘in home device’ to display the real time usage. However these products are seemingly unavailable. It seems like only reliant offers a ‘promotion’ allowing you to request one. Why does every smart meter not come with a simple in home display? Why are these not available everywhere?

    • Actually, David, I kind of am surprised it’s that low. Despite it being two days behind, I found it pretty informative and telling, at the very least from the prospect of budgeting and bill expectation. Additionally, I know that yesterday I hooked up some new electronics that will be running daily, so I can check to see what the spike is in my daily usage, which I can attribute to the new equipment in my house. And as much as people like you and myself are huge fans of data and analysis, I also think we’re typically more in the minority in this situation. :) You’d still think that more than 30k people would get use from the data that IS available. I mean, I found it useful, and as much as I’d also really like real-time data, this gave me some additional insights.

      Additionally, there ARE programs and applications that should allow people to view usage in real (or close to real) time. And while only Reliant and TXU are offering ops to get to the data now, more providers are developing their own access and aps to that kind of thing as I type this. It’ll get there.

      As for getting an In Home Display, they’re around. I found several by googling, and I know TDSPs like Centerpoint are making plans to sell them, although currently regulation issues prevent them from doing such. You want to google Zigbee Technology. Actually, Ill just paste you a bunch of links:


      You should be able to find plenty of options from there.

      I hope that helps!

  2. Pingback: Smart Thermostats About To Be Readily Available | Texas Electricity Ratings: The Blog

  3. Want to know why people dont use the site? I never knew they changed my meter to a smart one until today. I have no idea how long this thing has been on my house. Never knew there was a web site for these meters either. If Texas wants customers to use these meters they need to begin an ad campaign to inform the public.

    I love the direction this is going. I imagine a day when I have a a smart outlet too. Then I can use the site to monitor usage by outlet and know what is truly costing me money.

    As is, usefulness is limited. Seeing a history helped you. Little value to me as a long time home owner. I NEED real time data. The pitch promises 15 minute updates. That would be useful. Not 2 day old data. I would have to journal everything I had running on a specific date and time then wait for the data to show up 2 days later. Then do it again repeatedly. Not going to happen.

    I’ll sign up and check it out but don’t hold much hope in it’s ability to pinpoint waste.

  4. I need the Eisd# for the meter for 3102 West Bay Area Blvd #1505, Friendswood, TX 77546

    sometimes the address will pull up as 3102 West Bay Area Blvd #1505, Webster, TX 77546

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