What is a Smart Meter? Do I have to get one?

A smart meter records how much electricity you use and at what time of day you use it. At this time you are not required to have a smart meter.

Unlike older electricity meters, smart meters can record how much electricity you use and what time of day you use it. If you have a smart meter, electricity that you use during peak (busy) times cost more than electricity that you use during off-peak times. This is also called time-of-use (TOU) pricing. Smart meters can help you help you control your electricity use and lower your electricity bill.

The Ontario government's goal is to set-up smart meters for all homes and small businesses in Ontario by 2010.

Right now, if you are a tenant renting an apartment or house, you do not have to switch to a smart meter. You can choose to keep the meter you have right now. Your landlord or your electricity provider cannot shut off your electricity if you do not switch.

It is important to know that the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) rules about smart meters are not in effect yet.

According to this Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing webpage, "When these sections of the RTA do become law, there will be a number of protections in place for tenants who are required to pay for their own electricity due to smart metering (or electricity or other utilities in the case of ratio billing)."

If your electricity costs are included in your rent, and you switch to a smart meter, and you start paying the cost of electricity, your landlord must reduce your rent. If your landlord does not do this, you can file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board.

However, at this time, there are no guidelines or rules about how much this rent reduction must be. You should think very carefully about the amount of the rent reduction that your landlord offers you and compare it to how much your monthly electricity bill might cost.

You can contact your electricity provider for information about your average use, or you can try to estimate your costs using an appliance calculator.

If you are concerned about smart meters and your rights as a tenant, you can contact:

  • Landlord and Tenant Board: 1-888-332-3234 or 416-645-8080 (in Toronto)
  • Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations Tenant Hotline: 416-921-9494 (in Toronto)

You can also contact a legal clinic or housing help centre. To find help in your area, go to Services Near Me.

For More Information

  • Smart Meters - This website has information about smart meters and how you can use them to lower your electricity costs. Produced by the Government of Ontario.
  • Utility Companies in Ontario - A list of utility companies across the province. It also has information on energy retailers, prices comparison charts and consumer protection information.
  • Energy Efficiency Tips and Tools - Tips from HydroOne about lowering your energy use.
Last updated: July 09, 2010