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The smart meters are coming: what you need to know now

Berlin / Düsseldorf – In the coming years, many German households will be converted to smart meters. The smart meter shows energy consumption throughout the day and stores data. This should help to save electricity. But the investment costs are high.

News / Electricity

Picture: Energy meter in the apartment Image: © Cigdem / Adobe Stock / Text: dpa / tmn

1. Who gets a smart meter?

“Initially, only two groups of energy consumers will be affected this year,” explains Andreas Feicht, Vice President of the Association of Municipal Enterprises in Berlin. “These are households or, more likely, industrial and commercial customers consuming more than 10,000 kilowatt hours per year.” On the other hand, consumers get the device that operates electricity generating plants with more than seven kilowatts nominal power, for example, solar systems. But: Because gateways are not yet certified, the installation of the first models is not expected until mid-2017.

More households will be equipped with waves in the coming years: From 2020, users with a consumption of 6,000 to 10,000 kilowatt hours will be required to install them. According to the Energy Saving Initiative, this is equivalent to the average power consumption of a household with five or more members in a one- or two-family house, where electricity is also used to heat the water. Consumers with lower values can also be equipped with smart meters, but on a voluntary basis.

2. What benefits do the devices offer?

“They are the entry into a completely new measurement infrastructure,” explains Feicht. Instead of only calculating the annual consumption figure, digital technology measures electricity consumption every 15 minutes. This results in 96 individual values over the day. “This allows consumers to see where specific consumption peaks are occurring,” explains the energy expert. “For example, if your consumption is always increasing dramatically when the washing machine is running, it may be an older, less energy-efficient appliance, so consumers can respond to such things.”

3. Can money be saved with the smart meter?

With a smart meter alone, you can save no money yet. However, he should motivate consumers to save electricity by better visualization of electricity consumption. However, consumers need to know how to use the visualized data to save energy. And that has to do with motivation: you have to consciously reduce its power consumption. Whether the additional costs associated with the installation of a smart meter can even be compensated for must be shown.

4. Why should one even buy a smart meter maybe even voluntarily?

In the future, the question of costs could be followed by another answer. “The technology has great future prospects and is an important component of a smart home,” says Feicht. “It enables intelligent energy management.” For example, since a smart meter can communicate with the gateway, in future it will be possible to offer flexible electricity tariffs and automatically switch on household electrical appliances when the electricity is particularly cheap. Heat pumps or electric cars can also be charged more cheaply at optimal electricity purchase times. “The energy providers are currently working hard on corresponding offers and variable rates,” explains Feicht. However, the prerequisite would be that consumers agree to provide data.

5. Who builds the smart meter?

Installation is carried out by the measuring point operators. “These are usually the local network operators,” explains Corinna Kodim of the owner protection association Haus & Grund Germany. “But there are also independent providers who offer the collection and management of energy as a service.” The companies come by themselves to homeowners and administrators. Tenants do not have to be active. “But you can not refuse the installation of the smart meters – even though they incur additional costs.”

6. What are the costs to consumers?

There is a legal limit. “Currently, it is at the consumers concerned with more than 10,000 to 20,000 kilowatt hours consumption at 130 euros per year,” explains Kodim. Households with a consumption of between 6,000 and 10,000 kilowatt hours, which will be upgraded from 2020, should not have to pay more than 100 euros a year. But there are further costs to be expected.

“The places of the old discarded electricity meters are not suitable for the new technology,” explains Kodim. To attach the smart meter to the counter, an adapter is needed, because the old brackets of conventional Ferraris meters do not fit. “It can be assumed that entire meter cabinets need to be replaced, which can result in costs of several thousand euros, which are borne first by the homeowner,” explains the expert. “If apartments are rented, they can pass on the costs to the tenants via the modernization charge.”