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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.
If you have a smart meter, electricity that you use during peak (busy) times costs more than electricity that you use during other times. This is also called time-of-use (TOU) pricing. Smart meters can help you help you manage your electricity bill, reduce strain on the electricity system, and help the environment.
If you would like to find out about your average electricity use, you can contact your provider for information. You can also use an appliance calculator to estimate your costs.
If you live in a rental unit, you can also save energy by switching to a suite meter. Generally, if your electricity costs are included in your rent, and you switch to a suite meter, your landlord must reduce your rent because you will be paying your own electricity costs. Your landlord must tell you in writing how much your rent will be reduced. If your landlord does not do this, you can file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board. Your landlord must still supply you with heating (electric or otherwise) if you switch to a suite meter.
If your landlord wants to switch to a suite meter, they must get your written consent first, and they must give you information about the suite meter provider’s fees and policies. It is your choice whether or not to pay for your electricity costs this way.
Reducing Your Electricity Bill
In addition to having a Smart Meter, you can take other steps to save money on your electricity bill.
- Use energy when electricity prices are lower (off-peak hours).
- If you can, use Energy Star certified appliances.
- Lower your thermostat by 4 to 5 °C when you’re not home and when you’re sleeping.
- Wash your clothes in cold water and hang clothes to dry.
- Replace old light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
- Turn off appliances, lights and devices when you are not using them.
- Conserve water by fixing leaking faucets and pipes. Don’t leave water running when brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
For more tips on how you can save energy visit the Canada’s Action on Climate Change website.
Your Rights as a Tenant
If you are concerned about smart meters or suite meters and your rights as a tenant, you can contact:
- Landlord and Tenant Board: 1-888-332-3234
- Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations Tenant Hotline (Toronto only): 416-921-9494
You can also contact a legal clinic or housing help centre. To find help, go to Services Near Me and search for "community legal clinics" or housing assistance" in your area.
For More Information
- Smart Meters - This website has information about smart meters and how you can use them to lower your electricity costs. From the Government of Ontario.
- Smart Meter Savings This website explains some of the ways you can save money with smart meters. From Smart Meter Savings.
- 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.
July 22, 2015