Monday, August 27, 2012

Accessing Smart Meter Raw Data To Help Prove Inaccurate Electricity Billing

Over the last six months, an increasing number of clients have called our office, complaining they had a Smart Meter installed and the electricity bill has more than doubled. In some cases tripled! And what is a common trait with all of these clients, is that nothing else seems to have changed. Change enough that is, to account for this large increase in electricity costs. A cost they are being asked to pay, with little discussion and compassion, offered by the electricity retailer.

In most cases we would have to say the client's electricity usage patterns, are very similar to previous patterns, with the only common change being the installation of Solar PV. And for the Solar PV to be installed, the client has had installed a Smart Meter. This Smart Meter very often having a TIME OF USE [TOU] tariff. Which in most cases is not explained at the time of install, nor fully understood enough by the client even at a later date.  Therefore the client is usually not able to make a case, against the electricity retailer. Trying to prove this new tariff, is not the reason for the increase in electricity costs. Going to all the effort of creating a case for incorrect billing, is a very time consuming process and is something most householders, simply do not have the time for.

It appears after a few quick searches on Google, for 'Smart Meter High Electricity Billing', that there are a considerable growing number of homes around Australia, all with the same issue. The issue of inaccurate electricity billing, after a Smart Meter has been installed. Once you do a search for yourself and read a few reports, you will understand why we say Inaccurate Electricity Billing.

In many cases the electricity retailer says the meter is not at fault and what energy is reported on the bill, has in fact been used by the householder. Now whilst we do not want to discuss in depth here, all of the various reasons as to what may be the cause, where these reasons are highlighted by various media sources and online forums, time and time again. It does raise the question of the quality of the tests, to prove the meters in question are actually billing correctly. Testing often, where no other meter is installed in-line with the meter in doubt. It is the electricity distributor who is responsible for testing and replacing faulty electricity meters. A cost, that no doubt someone is not wanting to pay!

A householder choosing to make the decision to install a HOME ELECTRICITY MONITORING SOLUTION, would at least have the tools to analyse and record electricity usage, further taking steps to reduce usage, before finally battling with the idea, there may be an issue with the electricity billing process.

“Just pay the bill”, with little or no explanation from the electricity retailer is a common scenario. There is an increasing number of householders in Australia, starting to question these supposedly SMART meters!

So what can you do when your electricity bill suddenly takes a hike? We would suggest you take the following steps.

  • Contact your electricity retailer,  noting the electricity retailer's contact name, id, location of call centre, time and date of call. If you can record the phone call, do so.
  • Ask the electricity retailer for a copy of the Smart Meter's raw data. This will be the data the electricity distributor's meter reader obtained by using a 'probe device' from your Smart Meter. Note you will require a copy of the original data as collected by the distributor. The data the electricity retailer may have, may be different in format and compiled from the original electricity distributor's data. This data further should be actual data dump and not in anyway estimated data. This data dump is often termed 'NEM12 data dump'.
  • The ELECTRICITY RETAILER will lodge a request with the ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTOR for the data. Remember the outcome of this exercise is to get the raw data, which can be emailed to you. Under no circumstances agree to a meter test or check reading, until you have the data needed, otherwise this may be offered as the end solution. You may have to pay for a meter test or check reading. Your aim is to get your hands on the Smart Meter's raw data. Details on what to do with this data dump, will be detailed later in another blog post.

If the Smart Meter's raw data is not forthcoming within a reasonable time frame or you feel you are being given the run around, then we suggest you simply lodge a complaint with your STATE'S ENERGY OMBUDSMAN. A complaint will be opened by the Ombudsman and all payments for electricity, could be  placed on hold, until a suitable outcome is obtained.

To highlight this issue of supposedly INACCURATE ELECTRICITY BILLING, one case out there in the public domain, has a householder questioning the accuracy of electricity billing. Where it is reported the electricity retailer has billed the householder many times, all with different amounts based on the same collected electricity data. What is more alarming is the electricity retailers data, is further reported as having the householder using more energy than was actually supplied to the home! Now how can that happen logically! It is all to do with software & maths reading collected data, it seems.

The more you research into Smart Meters & High Electricity Bills, the more you realise something is WRONG here! All backed up by the increasing number of complaints to each State's Energy Ombudsman and those inaccurate home electricity bills, householders are more so suffering from all around Australia. No matter what electricity distributor, or retailer householders are dealing with, this issue is getting bigger! 

To learn about optional independent monitoring and analysis of your electricity usage and / or solar pv system's output, visit our ONLINE ELECTRICITY MONITORING page, where we make the task of getting your data online, very easy.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Electricity Meter Reading Facts For Aussie Homes

Are you concerned about aspects of your electricity meter's reading, or billing?

If you are not sure of who reads your electricity meter, or when your electricity bill can be estimated, then read on.

Listed are some basic facts about electricity meter reading, for all Aussie householders. The following information was sourced from the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW.

For contact information of the ENERGY OMBUDSMAN in your State, visit our website.

  • An ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTOR is responsible for the testing / replacement of your electricity meter.
  • The distributor reads the meter and then forwards the information to the ELECTRICITY RETAILER.
  • According to the Electricity Supply Act 1995 (Section 55) & Gas Supply Act 1996 (Section 56) an electricity distributor has the right to enter a customer's property, to read the meter without prior notice or consent. 
  • The electricity distributor can estimate any period of up to 6 months between readings. Regulation states there must be a reading, at least every six months. The estimated reading must be noted as 'estimated' and clearly shown on the electricity bill.
  •  The householder has the choice of paying the estimated amount, or an amount determined by the electricity retailer. After a customer receives an account based on an estimated reading, a retailer may agree to accept a customer’s reading of their own meter. This will be considered an actual read. 
  • Where access is constantly an issue for the purpose of reading the meter, a request for a 'special reading', can be made. The householder may be charged for this service. This same service can be used in the case of questionable meter readings.
  • The difference a meter can vary for under or over billing, is no more than 2%.
  • Historical billing data can be asked by the householder without charge, for periods of up to 2 years.
Visit our AUSSIE HOME ELECTRICITY webpage to learn more about your home's power supply, metering and billing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

16.5% Off The Electricity Bill Why You Should Always Read The Fine Print

Whilst any discount on electricity charges, is part of the solution for reducing home electricity costs, it is not the end solution! If your quest for lower home electricity bills stops here, you will remain being just a BILL PAYER!

Importantly we want you to understand all their is about home electricity usage, billing and costs. Knowledge is POWER remember, in being able to understand how to reduce the electricity bill and keep those costs minimised!

Many homes having 7%, 10% or 12% discounted electricity rates, do little more in their quest to reduce the electricity bill!

Being aware of the electricity retailers terms and conditions with any discounted electricity offer, be it for home or business, is the first priority. You may discuss with the electricity retailer:

  •     Contract term & early termination fees.
  •     Being able to switch back to the old tariff.
  •     What is the discount off exactly?
  •     Increases to current service charge rates.

It always pays to do the homework 100% of the time and importantly,


Watch the ABC Media Watch Program's video on WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT.

10 Reasons Aussie Householders Install Home Electricity Monitoring

Home electricity monitoring is a great electricity minimisation tool, used by many Aussie householder's, as one of their home electricity reduction methods.

If you too are trying to reduce your home's electricity costs and feel you are not achieving all you can, then why not take a minute to understand why these home electricity monitors, are being used by so many other householders in Australia. Used primarily in their quest to gain control again of rising electricity bills.

There are many reasons Aussie householders install home electricity monitoring, we list here the TOP 10. 

Are you missing out on electricity savings, by not monitoring your home?

  • Your electricity bill is out of control! You have no idea why and want to know FAST!
  • You want to keep an eye on your Solar PV, which can now easily be seen 24/7 easily from within the comfort of your home!
  • Your electricity usage in the home or business, needs to be analysed & monitored
  • You want access to your electricity data, when away from your home.
  • You are looking to perform your own DIY HOME ELECTRICITY AUDIT to learn more
  • You require ELECTRICITY USAGE ALERTS via SMS or the net! See our SOFTWARE page for details
  • Your home is split into two sections, whilst on one electricity meter. For example a rented apartment, where you want to know the tenant's power usage
  • You want to monitor separate circuits, such as air conditioners & pool pumps
  • You want to itemise data for electrical usage awareness, as part of your family electricity reduction program
  • You want to minimise electricity use, to offset the FORECAST ELECTRICITY PRICES

You too can choose to install home electricity monitoring as part of your home electricity reduction solution. Visit our CHOOSING YOUR POWER MONITOR page.

Knowledge is POWER in the search for CHEAPER HOME ELECTRICITY COSTS.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How To Read An Electricity Smart Meter In Australia

A common question from many Aussie householders is, “How do you read the newly installed smart meters?"

Firstly we need to point out that there are many different makes and models of Smart Meter, offered by electricity providers in Australia. 

Secondly these meters are software programmable by the distributor or third party. Thus this results in many variations.

The time of day, peak / shoulder / off-peak / controlled load [hot water] data and generated solar power, is simply stored in the Smart Meter registers. These registers are basically a software location in the meter.

And in most cases you can access some of this data. What data is accessible via a 'Scroll Button' on the front of the smart meter is determined by how the meter is programmed.

We will use as an example a Landis & Gyr Model E350 Type U1200. This meter has been programmed for a TIME OF USE (TOU) tariff. The meter also enabled to monitor the exported power [gross or net feed in tariff] from the SOLAR PV.

To access the data stored in the smart meter's registers you will need to scroll through the registers one by one, using the SCROLL button. Often the LCD screen will move through the same fields of data, every few seconds on auto pilot, meaning you do not have to press anything.

In this example the registers of the Landis & Gyr E350 display the following:

  • 01 - Time
  • 02 - Date
  • 03 - kWh Imported Total Power
  • 04 - kWh Imported Peak Power
  • 06 - kWh Imported Off Peak Power
  • 13 - kWh Total Exported Power
  • 14 - kWh Total Exported Peak Power
  • 16 - kWh Total Exported Off Peak Power

Whilst software registers differ from meter to meter, as in installation to installation, there is a pattern where the first three registers often display the same basic information. In some cases these first three registers often being the only one's accessible via the 'Scroll Button', more so when solar power is not installed.

For example:

  • 01 - d25/08/12
  • 02 - t16:07:02
  • 03 - 50401.5 kWh

Smart Meters have an internal time of day clock and are able to compute the power used, during different time based tariff rates. This information is not always fully accessible via the front panel of the meter. The meter reader accesses the data via a remote handheld device and then uploads this data to the electricity retailer at the end of the day. 

You can get access to this data file, by requesting it from your electricity retailer. There is a lot of data in this data file as in most cases as there is an entry for every half hour over ninety days. And that is 4368 entries! Best to input into a spreadsheet.

If you are one of the many householders around Australia having issues with the reading / billing from these Smart Meters, we would suggest you start logging the data in register 3 once every day. Meaning you know your imported power. 

More information can be found on our website's ELECTRICITY pages. Where we have a form, especially designed to help you keep a record of the data.

To learn about optional independent energy monitoring and analysis of your electricity usage and / or solar pv system's output, visit our ONLINE ELECTRICITY MONITORING page. You will soon realise you can get your data online, very easily.

Updated October 2016 - This blog post brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Identifying Your Electricity Smart Meter In Australia

Questions asked by many of our HOME ELECTRICITY AUDIT clients, often relate to the type or model of Smart Meter installed at their home.

There are many different types of Smart Meter available in Australia. If you want to know more about how to read the Smart Meter, then identifying the meter is crucial. We have come across a list of many of the approved Smart Meters in Australia, hosted on the National Measurement Institute's website.

Visit the NATIONAL MEASUREMENT INSTITUTE'S website, to see the extensive list of approved / cancelled / expired meters, with pictures for easy identification information.

To learn about optional independent monitoring and analysis of your electricity usage and / or solar pv system's output, visit our ONLINE ELECTRICITY MONITORING page, where we make the task of getting your data online, very easy.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monitoring Your Home Electricity Usage Online

Knowing your home electricity usage at all times, is a sure way of tackling electricity cost minimisation head on! More and more Aussie households are installing a HOME ELECTRICITY MONITOR, to track home electricity usage 24/7.

Whilst you cannot get a better Home Electricity Reduction Tool, other than electricity usage and costs 'in your face', so to say. How do you follow, what is happening when you are not at home?

The easy solution is have electricity data uploaded to an ELECTRICITY MONITORING WEB PORTAL automatically, from the monitor. Whilst these web portals may differ in the way they receive data and the acceptable formats, what they do have in common is, the fact you can now see your home's electricity data 24/7, from anywhere via the net. Meaning, it can be analysed on any computer, tablet or mobile phone!

With the added features of power alerts, SMS notifications and detailed analysis, it is a great move forward to see many householders go from being just bill payers, to electricity usage and cost experts, almost overnight.

So what are you going to do about your rising electricity concerns? Are you going to remain being a bill payer, or take the step and join a group of Aussie homes who are learning to make educated savings on electricity prices.

To learn about optional independent monitoring and analysis of your electricity usage and / or solar pv system's output, visit our ONLINE ELECTRICITY MONITORING page, where we make the task of getting your data online, very easy.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sizing A Solar PV System To Accurately Offset Electricity Usage

Sizing a Solar PV System accurately for the purpose of electricity offsetting, is not easy. Whilst there may be a few guessing techniques used by some solar providers, to work out how much power your household is using during the day, a simple accurate solution is to install a HOME ELECTRICITY MONITOR.

In a situation where there is no Gross FIT & the Net FIT is only a few cents return per kW generated, most householders are under the belief that a solar system on the roof, has little benefit. Could this be due to many of the negative media articles? What if you are not aware, by installing a solar system you could be saving big dollars off your electricity bill? So how do you workout what size solar pv system you need, and what are those forecast electricity savings?

Firstly you need to think about the idea of installing a home electricity monitor in your home. A monitor that is not just going to show you how much power your using in the day, when the sun is shining. But a monitor that supplies information, allowing you to cut electricity usage and costs, even before your solar pv system is installed. And you will not be generating power to support waste underneath the roof, as too many households are!

A monitor further makes sure your new solar pv system, is tailored accurately to your home's electricity usage. As offsetting the power you would normally purchase, is where you are going to make money. You will be maximising electricity savings only, whilst not pumping excess electricity back into the grid, where there is little or NO RETURN! This same monitor can further report on the generated power of your solar system and instantly report to notify you of any problems with generated solar output.

To learn more about how you go about tailoring your new solar pv system, to maximise electricity usage reduction and costs, you need to visit Aussie Home Energy's webpage on OFFSETTING YOUR ELECTRICITY COSTS, with a Solar PV System. Where you will find all the information you need to know.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Performing A DIY Home Electricity Audit With Your Current Cost Monitor

OK, so you have already made the move to gain the upperhand on electricity costs, by purchasing a HOME ELECTRICITY MONITOR. Even though you are now being informed of electricity usage and costs in real-time, ask yourself this. “Do you really know how much power each appliance uses and what's the cost of this power per appliance?”

If the answer is NO, then maybe you should think about performing a DIY Electricity Audit of your home. Afterall you have the main tool for this exercise, YES the monitor.

To perform an audit of your home's appliances you will need to record the standby power, the operational power and the electricity costs for all of your appliances. Householders who perform an electricity audit of their home, have a better understanding of where electricity usage occurs and how this relates to electricity costs. Once the task of the home electricity audit has been achieved, the monitor becomes the tool to keep the educated householder on track, with their home electricity minimisation program.

To make this task of performing your DIY HOME ELECTRICITY AUDIT easy, Aussie Home Energy has bundled together everything you need.

The Aussie Home Energy DIY Electricity Audit for householders with a Current Cost monitor includes:

  • Instruction Booklet on how to perform a DIY Electricity Audit.
  • DIY Electricity Audit Forms.
  • DIY Electricity Audit Spreadsheet.
  • Portable Battery Power Supply for room to room auditing. [Compatible with your Current Cost ENVI/R].

You have already invested in the purchase of your electricity monitor and most likely only just scraped the surface of home electricity savings. Ask yourself what else could you be saving? The fact is you will never know, until you perform an electricity audit. 

If you are generating electricity via renewable sources, have you reduced the waste under the roof? There is no point generating power above the roof, to partially support waste underneath it! Afterall is that not eating away at your investment?

So why not visit Aussie Home Energy's website or call their office and get your DIY HOME ELECTRICITY AUDIT started today.
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