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The term smart meter usually refers to electric meters which keep detailed statistics on usage, but it can be used for gas or water meter as well performing the same job. Additionally, a lot of smart meters can also perform telemetering, in which they interface remotely with the utility. Several nations are using smart meter technology through their utilities, and many manufacturers of meters offer smart meters containing different features.

The number of features available with a smart meter can vary a lot. Availability of telemetering features means that a meter reader does not have to manually collect data by travelling to the location, and meters with these features also many times provide instant reporting of power outages and other issues, which enables the utility to give a quicker response. A utility can also use an energy smart meter network to monitor power for balancing energy requirements during peak demand periods, such as hot summer days in areas where people use air conditioning.

For customers, the meter offers detailed breakdowns of the energy they consume, which enables them to see energy usage patterns. Using this information, people can keep a check on their energy usage to save money and to reduce the overall power demand.

Smart meters can also be linked to smart billing systems. People can join, for instance, a time of use program, which offers an incentive to consume power during off-peak hours by keeping billing low during these hours. With a smart meter, it is possible for the utility to monitor power usage by time and keep different rates for different times. People are also allowed to see their metering information to keep track so that they can adjust energy use dynamically during the billing cycle.

In a lot of nations, smart meters are also part of a larger program of grid modernization. With the increase in population and rise in use of electronic devices, several nations are finding it hard to provide the required amount of energy with their existing grids. The use of more sophisticated meters is a major step towards improving energy services to decrease the chances of power outages and other service interruptions.

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