Smart meters - a more efficient use of utilities

smart meters - a more efficient use of utilities

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For decades, residential and commercial energy, water and gas were measured by one-way meters, with billing determined by periodic readings. Despite relative accuracy, these systems are cumbersome and inefficient.

Smart meters change this, improving energy efficiency to shield consumers from the rising cost of electricity and other utilities, including water and natural gas. They record consumption every hour or less, sending information directly back to the company for real-time reporting. Outside of the amount of utility used, smart meters send near-instant power, gas and water outage notifications as well as monitor quality, all with easy-to-read displays showing up-to-date information on intake.

While currently being looked at for all utilities, smart meters will soon replace standard electric meters. Smart energy meters give utility companies and consumers a clear look at energy usage and allow companies to offer lower rates during off-peak times. Because smart meters dramatically reduce the amount of labour required to monitor consumption, they also pose a direct savings, allowing investment in smart grid development concepts and other environmentally-friendly technology. They eliminate estimated bills, allowing households and companies to better budget for utility costs, and provide a realistic way for consumers to utilize energy during off-peak hours.

Due to the reduction in operation cost and improvement in energy efficiency, especially when smart meters are integrated into smart grid development (a network that works with the two-way communication to increase or decrease energy production based on local usage at any given minute), several countries are working to replace traditional meters with smart meters.

Europe: Great Britain plans to have smart meters in all residential properties by 2020 as well as most small businesses, which accounts for 30 million homes and 2 million commercial properties.

US: Six states in the US currently have solid plans to incorporate smart meters for electricity, water and gas, with Texas, Maryland and California currently working on purchasing and installing the new technology.

Canada: Ontario leads the push to have smart meters installed throughout the province, boasting 800,000 residential and commercial properties with updated smart meters.

Japan: Private corporations currently utilize smart meters throughout the country, and Japan’s Energy Conservation Centre is testing smart meters and their effect on energy efficiency.

Australia: Victoria began implementing a plan to update 2.6 million properties with smart meters. As they work towards their goal of integrating these energy efficient meters into the public utility system, Victoria is offering three separate in-home displays tied to the smart meters, eliminating the need to go outside to look at the display.


As climate change and its effects become more apparent, the energy industry and is working to change the current system as quickly as possible to improve energy efficiency and reduce human activity’s impact on the environment. Although some companies and countries are slower to adopt smart meters and similar concepts than others, no one can argue the fact that a massive overhaul of the current systems is imperative. 

Public Transportation Revolution: From CUTE to CHIC

Public Transportation Revolution: From CUTE to CHIC

In an effort to create energy efficient, environmentally clean public transportation systems, Europe has spent the last decade testing fuel cell electric buses that utilize hydrogen fuel cells in lieu of traditional diesel. The Clean Hydrogen in European Cities (CHIC) project is the latest and most exciting development in this sector, but it was preceded by the Clean Urban Transport for Europe (CUTE) and the HyFleet: CUTE, two highly successful programs that have worked to lay the foundation for a revolution in the European public transportation system.

Exploring CHIC’s Origins: CUTE

The original CUTE project started with only a few units, but in just two years it expanded to 27 buses across 8 European cities, including Hamburg, London, Stockholm, Porto, Barcelona, Stuttgart, Luxembourg, Madrid and Amsterdam. Overall, this first incarnation of CUTE ran from 2001 to 2006, and the project was deemed a success, paving the way for the next incarnation: HyFleet. This second project was responsible for 33 new and improved buses with updated internal combustion engines. On a whole, it garnered even more public support for the program, operating in 9 cities around the world.


Creating Clean Coal: Carbon Capture and Storage

Conversations centering on climate change focus heavily on renewable energy sources, with solar and wind energy dominating the priority list of solutions. But there are other options available that work by upgrading current systems to harness the power of coal without heavy carbon dioxide emissions: carbon capture and storage (CCS) and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) systems.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Simply put, CCS is integrated into fossil fuel power plants, capturing carbon dioxide emissions so that they can be transported to a storage site, preventing them from entering into the atmosphere. Perhaps one of the simplest means of utilizing the infrastructure already in place, CCS turns carbon-emission-heavy fuel sources into a clean form of renewable energy, acting as a simpler means of combating climate change.
The first stage of this process involves capturing the CO2 and compressing it for storage. Methods vary, although for coal, CO2 is often captured post-combustion. From here, the emissions are pumped through a pipeline to a storage site deep underground, about 7,000 feet below the surface. In cases where pipelines are impossible, CO2 can also be transported to a storage site via ship...


London Array - paving the way for efficient offshore wind energy farms

World-renowned as the single largest operational offshore wind farm in the world, the London Array officially opened in July, 2013. It was founded and run by three energy companies: E.ON, DONG Energy, and Masdar. Featuring 175 wind turbines, the facility produces 630 megawatts of electricity, powering half a million UK homes every year, which works out to two-thirds of the homes in Kent. The London Array also reduces harmful carbon dioxide emissions by over 900,000 tons annually.

Lauded as an environmentally friendly, cost-effective source of reliable energy for southeast England, the project received its initial green light in 2003 when London Array Ltd obtained a 50-year lease for the 100 km2 location situated an expansive 20 km offshore...


Green City Times: YouTube


Green City Times is a resource on sustainability, urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable mass transportation, energy efficiency and green building. Facts on renewable energy including: hydroelectric (from dams, mills, waves, currents and tides), solar, wind, geothermal, biomass (and biofuel). Also info. on everything from recycling to clean coal...

Facbook: https://www.facebook.com/GCityTimes
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@gcitytimes


Solutions to fossil fuels

As a finite resource, oil, and in turn gas and diesel, is eventually going to run out. For car lovers everywhere, this means that alternatives have to be successful, otherwise it may be a return to the days of horse-drawn carriage for all of us.
Of course, the impact from using, refining and also finding oil and other fossil fuels are vast and have a significant negative impact on the environment. All kinds of pollution stem from fossil fuels, including immediate dangers to the planet, such as, most significantly, the dramatic increase of greenhouse gas emissions. The only way to counter these issues is to find alternatives that allow us to produce cheap, clean and also plentiful energy – so, here are some of the alternatives:

Hydrogen fuel cells

The holy grail of power sources for transportation is H2. Hydrogen power is readily available, if only the car industry can come up with a cost-effective way to use it. The creation of a economically viable hydrogen fuel cell is being applied in some car models and buses, especially in Europe. One major advantage of using H2 in transportation is that its only emissions are water and oxygen.


The distillation or fermenting of crops has been used to make people merrier for millennium now, however it can also be used to create more efficient, greener transportation...

Please see solutions to fossil fuels for the rest of the article.


The United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference 2015

The United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference 2015

World leaders gather every year for the United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) to assess progress in dealing with climate change and negotiate protocols and treaties between countries to further address the plethora of issues. This includes plans for sustainability, funding and implementing renewable energy sources, and updating urban planning ideas and guidelines with energy efficiency and green building in mind; all of which is intended to meet the goal of dramatically reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2015, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will meet again in Le Bourget, a northeastern suburb of Paris, France. Running from November 30th to December 11th, the 2015 meeting will be the 21st yearly session and focus on developing and funding the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and setting carbon pricing.

The GCF will transfer money from developed countries to underdeveloped countries, aiding them in investing in renewable energy, sustainable mass transportation, and green building projects. Perhaps the most contentious topic to be discussed is carbon pricing, where countries will be charged for their carbon dioxide emissions...


27 tips to reduce your carbon footprint

The following is a list of simple, smart tips which can help you reduce your carbon footprint. Help stop global warming, and make a greater impact by following more than just a few.
  • Change your regular light bulbs to LED (light emitting diode) or CFL (compact florescent) light bulbs. LED and CFL's use less energy, contain less toxic ingredients and last a very long time.
  • Try buying your groceries locally; this way you are buying products which are produced using the very least amount of energy. This helps reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Try using rechargeable batteries.
  • Avoid "phantom loads" (electrical equipment that still uses energy even after turned off) by using a power strip.
  • Start recycling newspaper, magazines, plastic, glass and cardboard.
  • Invest in a car with good gas mileage.
  • Try to avoid patio heaters.
  • Start car-pooling from work if possible.
  • Try to avoid peek driving hours to reduce your commute time and gas consumption.
  • Start using a compost bin to recycle the waste from your kitchen and garden.
  • Filter your own water instead of buying a fridge that does it for you.
  • Clean the lint filter of your dryer and furnace. You can save a lot of money as less electricity is wasted with dirty filters.
  • Turn off the tv when not being watched.
  • Use your own mug when you go into a coffee shop, instead of using one of the paper cups they provide.
  • Start using a clothesline to dry your clothes when the weather is appropriate.
  • Only use your dryer and dishwasher when they are full.
  • Plant trees.
  • Open up your windows during the summer and start depending less on air conditioning.
  • Purchase reusable bags to carry your groceries in.
  • Reduce your consumption of red meat, as cows and forest clearing for cow pastures generate significant amounts of CO2.
  • Turn off and unplug any electrical devices when they are not being used.
  • Turn off the lights when leaving a room.
  • Use solar powered lights when you can.
  • Save paper! Use cloth to clean.
  • Use the internet to read the news instead of purchasing a newspaper every day.
  • Invest in a laptop instead of a desktop as they use up less energy.
  • Try to install double-pane windows..
  • Keep your car tires inflated to the recommended pressures to save gas.
  • Try using a programmable thermostat and regulate the heating/ cooling of your home to use less energy.