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Real Meters, Way!

It wasn’t that long ago that everybody had cumulative electric meters. Thomas Edison invented cumulative meters at the dawn of electric utility service, way back in 1879. Though improved in the century-plus since, a meter still measured how many kilowatt-hours in total a home took since the meter was installed. Meter readers — remember them — dodging your dog and debris would enter your yard and record the total as of that day. Subtract that total from last month’s number and ta-da, the utility could calculate your monthly bill.

Today’s real time and connected meters are so much more powerful (yea, pun intended).

In a storm, the utility automatically and instantly knows when my house has lost electric service and when it’s been restored. No more not-fun calls to the utility. Indeed, my smart phone can get up-to-the-minute info on who’s out and who’s not and what are the chances the ice cream in my fridge will melt and spoil. 

The rest of the time, my phone can see where my monthly bill is heading and actually how many kilowatts my house is taking now, and now, and now. I really like that feature. Never realized before that the juice we pull from the grid varies so wildly from instant to instant, and really zooms when the air conditioner cycles on, especially if the fridge is cycling on too, at the same time the washer and dryer are washing and drying.

All this info, if nothing else, makes you much more conscious that you’re constantly taking from the grid. And that, depending on what machines and appliances you’re running, how much you’re taking really does vary, and to a large extent is within your control.

No way! That’s what the characters said in the great film “Wayne’s World” when they were astonished about something. The response, that something was indeed true: Way!