A digital meter or ‘smart meter’ is a standard electricity meter.
It can wirelessly send information about your usage to your electricity retailer.
Advantages of having a digital meter
- With digital meters, your energy is measured and recorded every 30 minutes. In the future, newly installed meters will take measurements every five minutes.
- If you have a digital meter with remote communications, there is no longer a need for estimated bills or manual readings.
- Power supply outages can be identified and fixed more quickly with digital meters.
- Electricity retailers can provide online platforms and apps that show your consumption in graphs and charts. This information can help you monitor your usage.
How do you get a digital meter?
Ask your electricity retailer for a digital meter.
Retailers are gradually replacing manually read meters with digital meters over a period of years. If there is nothing wrong with your existing meter, it could be some time before it is replaced. Faulty meters, however, must be replaced with digital ones.
The process depends on your circumstances. In some instances, your meter board may need upgrading.
To install a digital meter, contact your electricity retailer. They will tell you:
- who will install your meter
- the installation date
- whether the installer may need to temporarily turn off your electricity supply
- the associated costs or changes to your energy contract
- if extra electrical work may be needed.
If you need extra electrical work within your home, you will need to contact an electrician. If you need extra electrical work related to your meter and its connection to the electricity network, you will need to contact an Accredited Service Provider (ASP). Read more about installing or altering your electricity service.
Many retailers will install your meter free, or as part of your contract. Shop around for a retailer that best suits your needs, including metering. You can use the NSW Energy Switch service to compare plans from all providers. This is a free and price comparison website run by the NSW Government.
If you receive your bill directly from your electricity provider and you meet the eligibility requirements, you can use the Energy Switch tool to compare your plan with other available plans. If you decide to switch providers, they will initiate the switch process for you.
If you have privacy concerns, you can ask for a digital meter that does not transmit data remotely.
There have been claims that the electromagnetic field emissions (EMFs) from digital meters can cause health problems. Many devices, such as mobile phones, also emit EMFs. There is no established scientific evidence that the low levels of EMFs from digital meters cause any health effects. More information: Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
Do you have to change your meter?
You have the right to refuse the installation of a digital meter. However, if the meter is faulty or has reached the end of its life, it must be replaced.
For more information:
contact your energy retailer about digital meter installation, pricing and bills
the Australian Energy Regulator has a fact sheet on Smart Meters and You.
Page last updated on 12 June 2020