Electricity and gas meters

Advanced digital meters (smart meters)

Advanced digital meters – also known as smart meters – can record your electricity use every 30 minutes, which means you can see both how much electricity you are using and when you are using it.

Advanced digital meters are now available in South Australia, though not all electricity retailers currently offer contracts to residential customers with smart metering. As advanced digital meters become more common, the number of retailers and retail contract options for customers with smart meters are expected to increase.

The cost of installing and maintaining an advanced digital meter at your home varies between retailers. If you are considering installing an advanced digital meter, think about whether the benefits of the meter will outweigh these costs.

From 1 December 2017, all new and replacement meters installed in homes and small business will be advanced digital meters.

New rules for metering services will commence on 1 December 2017 and are determined by the Australian Energy Market Commission, based on feedback provided by stakeholders including electricity retailers and representative consumer groups. These rules encourage competition in metering services and enable customers and energy business to access additional services provided by advanced digital meters. This means customers will be able to choose from a range of tariff structures and have access to retail packages that rely on more advanced metering.

How advanced digital meters work

Understanding the information your meter gives you can help you manage your electricity use and costs. Using the data collected by your advanced digital meter to track how much electricity you are using will give you a guide to how much your bill will be, which means you can adjust your use to help save money.

As well as data monitoring, an advanced digital meter may allow you to take advantage of flexible pricing, where you are charged different rates for using electricity at different times of day. Shifting some of your electricity use to off-peak periods could help reduce your bills.

Advanced digital meters mean that retailers don’t have to send people to your home to read your meter. If your meter is hard to access, eg inside your home or behind a locked gate, this means you won’t need to negotiate a time for a meter reader to visit your home. This will streamline connections and disconnections and make the process of switching between retailers smoother.

Being able to read your meter remotely also means your retailer can bill you on your actual electricity use rather than estimating your bills, which means you won’t have to worry about over-estimated bills or catch-up bills as a result of an under-estimated reading. Your retailer may also be able to bill you more frequently (eg monthly instead of quarterly), which may make it easier for you to manage your bills – speak to your retailer about whether they can provide this service to you.

Advanced digital meters also allow electricity network operators to monitor the reliability and quality of the electricity supply to homes, which enables them to respond to power outages or poor quality supply issues faster.

Advanced digital meter data privacy

Advanced digital meters can transmit data to your electricity retailer and distributor every 30 minutes. The information is encrypted and sent over secure and private networks. The data does not include your name or address details – only your meter identification number is included, which your retailer uses to link your electricity use to your account.

The information collected by smart meters is considered personal information and is protected by the Australian Privacy Principles. All energy distributors and retailers must comply with these principles and the Privacy Act 1988.

Advanced digital meters and your health

Advanced digital meters are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and have frequencies similar to mobile and cordless phones.

Advanced digital meters must comply with ACMA’s Radio Communications (Electromagnetic Radiation-Human Exposure) Standard 2003. Exposure limits are set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) under this standard to protect everyone against known adverse health effects associated with emissions exposure.

ARPANSA states that the combination of the low transmitter power of advanced digital meters, the meter’s location on the outside of buildings, and the very short time spent transmitting, means that the overall exposure is well below safe exposure limits, even when a number of devices are transmitting simultaneously.

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Page last updated 20 April 2017

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