The energy regulator, the CER, has today published a Decision Paper on the smart metering of gas and electricity that will see the first of them installed in Irish homes and businesses in 2015.
It envisages that all electricity and gas smart meters will be rolled out by 2019.
The CER said Smart Meters will provide significant benefits to energy customers and to the country generally.
It said that trials, published last year by the CER, showed that a national rollout of Smart Meters could lead to a 2.9pc reduction in overall gas consumption, a 2.5pc reduction in overall electricity consumption and an 8.8pc reduction in peak-time electricity consumption.
"A national rollout of Smart Meters will therefore lead to lower customer bills, more customer information and more customer choice. It should also lower Ireland's CO2 emissions and help the environment. The Smart Meter rollout will involve major investments by the network companies over the next few years. The pilot trials showed that, after carefully analysing the costs and benefits involved and using very conservative estimates, Smart Meters will provide a net benefit to customers and the country in excess of E220 million over 20 years (net present value)," the watchdog said.
The CER said Smart Meters can record customers' use of energy over short intervals, for example every 30 minutes. Suppliers can use this to provide customers with detailed information regarding their actual electricity and gas consumption and costs, through Smart Bills. In addition, an In-Home Display screen can be used with Smart Meters, providing customers with more real-time information on their energy consumption.
"All of this information will empower customers to reduce their energy consumption and manage their bills better."