If you need another sign that we live in a digital society, then look no further than the utility meter that's attached to your house. A new type of electric and gas meter is starting to pop up on homes in Western New York, and that has some people happy, while others are a little worried.

New York State Electric and Gas has recently announced that they plan to install more than 190,000 smart meters in the homes and businesses where they provide electric and gas service in New York State.

What Is A Smart Meter?

According to the US Department of Energy, a Smart Meter works just like a typical utility meter, except that it also provides two-way communication between you, your home or business, and the utility company. This can help the utility know about blackouts and maintain more reliable electrical service.

Millions of smart meters have been installed across the country so far, and officials say it's a way for people to save money.

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According to a report from WGRZ, a spokesperson from NYSEG says that a Smart Meter will essentially read itself every month and transmit the data directly to the utility company. That saves money and provides more accurate bills since it may eliminate the human error that can occur when a meter is physically read by a person.

What About Cost and Privacy?

NYSEG isn't the only local utility going to smart meters. National Grid has been installing smart meters all over the country, including here in the northeast.

Many people around the country have been worried about their privacy, whether they are safe from hackers or from the utility company taking control of their service.

Both National Grid and NYSEG say they will only have the ability to monitor usage, but considering that some utilities can control your smart thermostat, I would be skeptical.

When the time comes for a smart meter to be installed in your home or business, you aren't required to take it. You can opt out and keep your regular meter, but be ready to pay for it, as the utility companies are allowed to charge you a one-time fee and a monthly fee if you do not take a smart meter.

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