With smart meters gradually being rolled out across Europe, households are expected to gain full control over their electricity consumption, helping the fight against global warming and putting more renewable energy onto the electricity grid.
There is no standard definition of smart metering, but it usually refers to using advanced meters in conjunction with communication systems to allow customers to monitor their energy consumption in real time.
In its simplest form, a smart meter electronically measures how much energy is being used and how much it costs, and then communicates it to the energy supplier and the customer.
Most current experience centres around using smart meters for electricity, but they can also be used to measure natural gas consumption. Manufacturing smart gas meters is, however, more complicated and expensive.
The foundations for rolling out smart meters in Europe were laid down in a 2006 EU directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services (ESD; see EurActiv LinksDossier). The directive required member states to ensure that consumers of energy and water are provided with individual meters and accurate billing, including time-of-use information.
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