Smart meters: Can they cut hundreds of dollars off your energy bill?

Victorian households have had electricity smart meters for a decade or more now. Has that benefitted anyone? And should the rest of Australia follow suit? What can ordinary Aussies get out of a full national roll-out?

Victoria’s 100 per cent electricity smart meters take-up resulted from a state government mandate. That put the state well ahead of the national curve. Even 10 years later, the national take-up is only 35 per cent. That is a number much smaller than the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) would like. Does it matter? According to the AEMC, yes.

The AEMC says further roll-outs of smart meters across the eastern seaboard will deliver benefits to providers and customers alike. Following a directions paper released two years ago, the commission last week issued a suite of reforms.

These reforms, says the AEMC, include a 100 per cent rollout to households by 2030. This “would provide net benefits to the value of $507 million for national electricity market regions.” That includes NSW, Queensland, the ACT and South Australia.

Business benefits of smart meters

Energy providers and retailers benefit in a number of ways through the use of smart meters. Some of those benefits are obvious. The ability to obtain meter readings remotely, for instance. No need to send out a meter reader. Perhaps not such great news for meter readers, but a saving for the retailer.

On a grander scale, the smart meters open up the possibility of developing software that can remotely control individual appliances. That may sound like something from the realm of Big Brother, but the intentions are good, according to Wes Ballantine. The chief executive of smart meter company Intellihub, says meter connectivity will help with the demand for control features.

It will do so by turning on and off appliances to match periods of rising and falling demand. For example, smart meters can control when the hot water heating is turned on and off, to match periods of demand on the power network.

That may sound somewhat invasive, but Mr Ballantine says customers won’t even know. “As a customer, the main thing you want is that when you get in the shower to have a shower, you have hot water. You don’t really care when that water was heated,” he says.

Less ‘personally’, smart meter technology will allow providers to instantly identify outages, possible supply problems and surge risks.

Customer benefits

Ask a Victorian about how a smart meter has benefited them, and the chances they’ll answer, “I don’t know.” That perhaps indicates that as successful as the mandatory roll-out was, the PR side was less so.

In fact, smart meters can help households manage their electricity consumption down, right down to an appliance level. Energy Victoria’s website says: “You can see your usage in almost real-time using web portals and in-home displays. This means you can have more control over your daily energy use.”

As a Victorian myself, I was not aware of that. With the current cost-of-living pressures and ongoing threat of human-driven climate change, it’s good to know smart meters can help.

It appears that electricity smart meters live up to their name, providing justification for the AEMC’s ambitious 2030 roll-out target. What’s required once smart meters are installed, is that retailers and customers alike actually use them smartly.

Does your house have an electricity smart meter? Have you taken advantage of any of its features? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: An El Niño looms over our electricity system, we must plan for the worst

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. They are not infallible. One was installed at my place in April and my bill tripled (we are only 2 people who use minimal energy, no heating in winter). When I lodged a complaint, I was told my meter was a priority for the technicians. I put off getting my 10kW solar system with batteries for 3 months waiting for that technician. When he came the electricity company refused to allow him to change the meter because according to them nothing is ever wrong with them. Three days later I had my new solar system installed and it has managed to produce so much energy it cancels out the excess the meter records. I lost over $1,000 waiting for someone to check it and if I had not spent thousands on solar to fix their problem, I would not be facing even higher bills. If the assumption is that they are flawless, my experience is that they are not.

  2. In South Australia, Smart Meter installation, maintenance and repair is handled by an external contractor, not directly associated with your energy supplier. You can report problems to your energy supplier, but they will not believe you directly, and you will have to contact a licensed electrician to investigate and report the issue. After that, your supplier will arrange the contractor – and you will likely have to wait weeks.

    The electrician is at your cost – no reimbursement.

    This is what you get when your government sells access to public utilities to multiple overseas companies, who don’t own the infrastructure, but control the on-selling of power to consumers.

  3. I have similar experience to Julie. I had new smart metre installed in Feb 2023, and have been far from happy. Firstly, they couldn’t give me a bill, the excuse was ‘there’s something wrong’. But they couldn’t say what. I’ve had 2 bills since then, bill considerably higher, & my solar read in amount has hugely dropped. They tried to say there was a fault with my solar system, but I paid for an electrician to check, & all was working perfectly. 2 of those months, I was away from home, yet bill did not change. I have no faith in the so called smart meter being correct.

  4. Anything that has the stamp of politicians and bureaucrats reeks of inefficiency from the start. I certainly won’t have anything to do with external controls of our power. Go totally off grid if possible and get rid of big brother and their stuff ups.

  5. It seems that the answer to the question posed in the heading of this article is “maybe they can but the evidence here suggests that smart meters don’t save you hundreds of dollars. I might be cynical but unless the author can identify to us a philanthropic electricity supplier, my suspicion is that any organisation which would invest hundreds of millions of dollars into replacing functioning meters would do so only to reap a financial reward for itself as a result.

  6. There are hundreds’ of thousands of these metres, they work fine. Of course there will be the odd problem here and there. In my town 30,000 people have them, ours is 6 years old now, perfect. Never heard anyone here with problems. You can see usage to the half hour, get the actual usage now and makes it easy to compare different providers. You give your usage to a comparison site and it lets you know which deals are best for your usage pattern. Our bill now is around $81.00 average per month, two people, electric cooktop and oven.

    And for all the “they can control you” fools, if they want to control you, they can already, it’s electricity, it can be turned off with a flick of a switch.

  7. What a lot of drivel. The only one that benefits from a smart meter is the provider. They care little about maintenance issues except when the readings stop then they estimate usage and don’t fix the meter. I have had one now along with solar for nearly 10 years and yet to see any savings or information on how a smart meter benefits me. Its fine for the industry to say that they can control your appliances remotely, but how will they know if you are using it at the time, and in the case of hot water what impact that will be. Thinking in a conspiracy mode this remote ability will also allow them to manipulate your bill forcing your usage into higher rate periods. Yes it is Big Brother!

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