Questions and answers on electricity meters (incl. smart meters)
1. What's the difference between smart meters and other electricity meters?
- Mechanical disc spins as electricity is consumed
- Small dials or digital monitor displays electricity used
- No other functionalities
- Electricity usage is measured digitally; no moving parts
- Digital monitor displays electricity usage
- Capacity to transmit information wirelessly
- Other functionalities available
Measurement Canada does not differentiate smart meters from any other traditional electricity meters. This is because all electricity meters including smart meters use the same basic measuring component, which is approved and inspected by Measurement Canada. The other functionalities of smart meters may include automatic meter reading, power outage identification, and time stamping of the energy used for rate allocation (e.g. time-of-use, block pricing). These additional functionalities are the responsibility of the provincial energy authorities.
2. Are smart meters tested for accuracy?
All electricity meters including smart meters must meet strict requirements related to accuracy. Measurement Canada is responsible for the approval, verification, inspection and sealing of the measurement components of all electricity meters. Meters are regularly removed from service for the purpose of having their accuracy tested as part of various inspections, or as a result of a complaint made to Measurement Canada.
If you are in doubt about the accuracy of your smart meter, or of any electricity or natural gas meter, please see Can I count on my meter?
3. What are electricity meter seals?
Inspected electricity meters are sealed with nylon line or metal wire and tag to discourage against meter tampering. A seal locks the meter's case to the meter and must be broken or cut in order to access the meter. Tampering with a meter or breaking a seal without authorization is an offence under the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act.
4. Do electricity meter seals expire?
All electricity meters installed by utilities in Canada have a predetermined expiry period. This period can range from 6 to 12 years (depending on the type of meter) and begins when the meter is first inspected. It is possible under various circumstances for the meter to be re-inspected and the expiry period extended.
5. What happens when my electricity meter seal expires?
When the existing meter seal expires it will be replaced before the end of the year by another tested and inspected meter. The type of meter installed is the utility's decision, but it must be approved for use in Canada. Sometimes utilities proactively replace meters before they expire. This is not required by Measurement Canada and is the utility's decision. If you are concerned about the expiration of your meter, please contact your local utility.
6. Why is my electricity meter being removed from service?
By law, electricity and natural gas meters must sometimes be removed from service to:
- conduct mandatory re-inspections;
- replace a defective or broken meter;
- test a meter when there is a complaint related to its accuracy;
- test meters to monitor the marketplace compliance with the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act; or
- keep the meter in good repair.
Utilities may also request to replace a meter with another model for purposes not required under the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and Regulations. Such meter removals may be subject to policies or regulations of other organizations such as provincial energy boards.
7. Can I refuse to have my meter removed from service?
It is an offence to prevent or refuse the removal from service of a meter for reasons specified in the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act. If your meter is being removed for another reason, you should contact your utility or service provider.
8. Will there be a difference in my billing when I switch to a smart meter?
The billing invoice from your service provider must display the total delivered amount of electricity in approved units of measure, as well as meter registration information. Measurement Canada has the authority to ensure that amounts declared have been delivered to the consumer.
9. Why are my electricity bills higher than others'?
Many variables affect the amount of energy you use, making it very difficult to compare your usage with someone else's. Take into consideration the season, the size of your household, your appliances, and the efficiency of your home.
10. What can I do if I suspect a problem with my meter or bill?
If you suspect that your meter may not be measuring accurately, you may file a complaint with Measurement Canada to have your meter tested for accuracy. If you have a complaint about your electricity bills, you may also contact your provincial or territorial ombudsman or your service provider as Measurement Canada does not have authority over this.
11. Can I have my meter inspected for its accuracy?
Measurement Canada investigates all complaints of suspected inaccurate measurement. If you suspect your meter is not measuring accurately you may file a complaint but you should always attempt to resolve the matter with the utility first.
12. I filed a complaint about my meter. When can I expect the results?
After Measurement Canada receives your Statement of Complaint (PDF, 87 KB) and other relevant info, you and your supplier will receive a notice indicating the time, date and place of the test. When the investigation is completed, the inspector will send you a report of the findings. Depending on the location and type of meter, the total length of an investigation is typically between four and eight weeks.
Issues have been reported with the use of Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. If you are using these browsers, the form can still be downloaded by saving it to your computer.
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13. My supplier is going to charge me a late fee because I am refusing to pay my bill until I get my investigation results. What should I do?
Payment arrangements are between you and your supplier. You may choose to pay your bill to avoid late payment charges or losing your service connection. If there is a problem with the meter, you may be eligible to receive a rebate or adjustment to your account based on Measurement Canada's findings.
14. Do radio frequencies from smart meters affect my health?
Health concerns regarding radio frequency (RF) energy exposure are addressed by Health Canada. They have developed guidelines for safe human exposure to RF energy. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's branch responsible for approving RF equipment and performing compliance tests has adopted these guidelines as the standard for RF exposure compliance of radiocommunication equipment. For information about the health effects of smart meters from RF exposure, please see Health Canada's website.
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