- College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
- Creating Your Excellent Future Using Smart Meters
Creating Your Excellent Future Using Smart Meters
The Department of Engineering Technology at Northern Illinois University is collaborating with the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation to educate people in northern Illinois about the environmental and cost benefits of electrical Smart Meters and of participating in energy efficiency programs.
Consumer Programs to Reduce Electric Bills
Hourly Pricing participants typically saved more than 15 percent off the electricity supply portion of their electric bill compared to fixed-price rates. Hourly Pricing is probably a good option for you if your monthly electric bill is greater than $50 and you are able to shift your electricity use to off-peak times. Electric vehicle owners who charge at home are generally a good fit for the program since hourly prices are typically low during overnight hours. Hourly Pricing programs are available to residential customers in ComEd's territory.
Peak Time Savings
Peak Time Savings participants earn $4 to $12 about three to five times each summer by delaying their use of high-energy appliances and setting their thermostat 4 degrees higher. Peak Time Savings Hours are usually between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the summer. Customers with Smart Meters who enroll in Peak Time Savings earn a credit on their electric bill each time they participate on days with Peak Time Savings Hours. Customers can enroll in this program no matter which company supplies their residential power.
Simple Ways to Save Energy
- Save up to $12 per year for each incandescent bulb you replace with an LED.
- Save 15 to 20 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs by installing a smart thermostat.
- Clean or change your furnace and air conditioning filters regularly to save up to 15 percent on your cooling costs and up to 25 percent on your heating costs. A dirty filter slows down air flow so the system has to work harder to keep you warm or cool.
- Close window shades or blinds on the sunny side of your home in the summer to keep out the hot sun and open them in the winter to bring in warm rays. Keeping the blinds closed on a sunny window on a warm day can reduce the heat gain in the room by around 45 percent.
- Seal air leaks and properly insulate to make your home more comfortable while saving up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.
- Save between $12 and $60 a year by setting your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Save about $60 a year by washing your clothes in cold water.
- Use low-flow faucets and shower heads. Not only will this conserve water, a family of four will save about $100 a year on water heating costs.
- Wrap the water storage tank in a specially-designed "blanket" to keep in the heat. These insulating wraps can save between 7 and 16 percent in water heating costs, and pay for themselves in about a year.
- Turn off all lights, appliances and electronics when not in use. An advanced power strip that switches peripheral electronics on and off automatically when the TV is turned on or off can save $30 to $50 or more per year.
- When buying electrical products, look for the Energy Star label, the U.S. government's symbol of energy efficiency, to save up to 30 percent on related electricity bills.
What are Smart Meters?
Smart Meters are digital electric meters that wirelessly provide secure two-way communication between your electric meter and the utility company. These advanced meters also give you access to more information about your electricity use.
A Smart Meter provides three key benefits:
- More control over your energy use, helping you save money,
- Better service by automatically sending meter readings so the electric company does not have to estimate bills or send a meter reader to your home,
- Quicker response time during power outages and more efficient restoration of power after an outage.
What about radiation?
The frequency and power of the waves given off by a Smart Meter are similar to that of a cell phone or residential Wi-Fi router. Smart Meters send and receive short messages about 1 percent of the time, and the antenna is usually located outside the home. That means the amount of radiofrequency radiation a person is exposed to from a Smart Meter is probably much lower than the amount they are exposed to from a cordless phone or other sources inside the house.