Power Meters And Their Role In Your Monthly Power Bills

Date Jul 13, 2021
Blog category Power
By Staff Writer


We all pay our power bills monthly, but do you know what goes on in our power meters? Whether you have a smart meter or a traditional meter, learning how to read it keeps you more in charge of your power usage.


What is an electricity meter?

A power meter is used to keep track of how much power a place is using. You need your meter information to find out how you are connected to the network. This, plus your power usage information is one way to help you decide which pricing plan works best for you and your household.

There are two kinds of meters: analog meters and smart meters.

Analog meter

Analog meters require a meter reader to go to your place and record your electricity usage since the last time it was read. Power retailers usually estimate your consumption every second month to reduce meter reading costs.

This type of meter can't record the power you have used during different pricing times, which means you can't take advantage of peak, shoulder, and off-peak pricing of most energy retailers. You will have to pay the same amount throughout the day regardless of the time you were using your electricity.

Today, smart meters are starting to replace analogs since it's more up-to-date and easier to use for both consumers and retailers.

Read: Switching Power Providers In NZ? Read This Guide

Smart meter

Most Kiwis today have smart meters on their properties. Smart meters record the amount of electricity consumers use at half-hourly intervals. Unlike analog meters that need to be checked in person by a meter reader, smart meters are fitted with a wireless communication device. Information from said meters is sent each night.

How do smart meters work?

Smart meters can transfer your data back to your retailer in two different ways.

  1. By using GPRS

Using the same network as your mobile phones, a smart meter sends "handshakes" throughout the day and usually an end-of-day meter reading to your retailer. These "handshakes" are a way for smart meters to confirm that they're still working.

  1. By using radio

Smart meters also use radio to transfer your data from meter to meter, then to an aggregation point, which you can typically find mounted on a power pole. Once the data has reached the aggregation point, it's passed on to the retailer.

If you're worried about your privacy and security, your data is always encrypted when it's in transit on networks. Your personal information is secured.

Read: How to Easily Lower Your Power Bill

Why are analog meters being replaced by smart meters today?

Well, having smart meters offer a lot of benefits to both consumers and retailers. 

  • It provides real-time, accurate information about your power consumption during peak, off-peak, and shoulder periods.
  • You get to save money on your monthly bills since you can maximize your electricity use at cheaper times of the day.
  • It gives easy access to consumers and retailers, and connections, disconnections, and final readings can be quickly conducted.

There are different kinds of models of electricity meters that can be installed at your property. You may check with your retailer what type of meter you have and if you want to change it.

Smart meters and analog meters are usually installed in the same place (on an exterior wall of your property). Some retailers provide online tools that let you identify if you have a smart meter. All you need to provide is your address.


Your meter and electricity bills

Having a smart meter gives you a more accurate electricity bill. Analog meters need to be read every three or four months by your retailer and provide an estimate for your bills. 

Some retailers provide online forecasts of what your current electricity bill will look like using the data from your smart meter. This gives you the advantage to plan and budget for your utilities since you'll have an idea how much you're likely going to pay for electricity.

If you have your appliances turned off to reduce peak loads on the network, your smart meter makes sure you're charged the right amount and discount.

It's also important to note that most retailers are introducing time-of-use tariffs, where the cost of electricity differs depending on the time of the day. This gives consumers the chance to reduce their electricity bills by changing the time they use power from peak to off-peak times.

Read: How To Avoid Getting Overcharged On Your Power Bill

Should I switch to a smart meter?

No, switching to a smart meter is not necessary. Your retailer is responsible for providing an accurate meter in your home, but they're not required to install a smart meter. However, you can ask your provider if they offer a smart meter. After all, most retailers today prefer their customers to have smart meters since it gives them regular information on power usage and helps them provide more accurate billing for their customers.

Do you need a meter?

A meter is essential so your electricity retailer can tell how much they should charge you on your monthly power bills. Retailers can also use the data gathered from your meters to help you find electricity plans that suit your needs. According to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, a smart meter is a great solution that could help improve the use of electricity in New Zealand households. By improving electricity use, carbon dioxide emissions can also be reduced, which is great for the environment.

Aside from knowing how to read your meter, you can also save money on your monthly power bills by being on the right plan and provider! 

Discover your best options based on your needs and location. Score some amazing power deals from leading NZ providers today, right here at CompareBear!