I have not researched much about smart appliances or smart meters (I will, though, having covered that genre of product for the past five years or so), but I have done one very smart thing and that is examine and understand my electric bill. In fact, two years ago, I blogged about how "I cut my electric bill in half" (the post's headline) by installing compact fluorescent bulbs and shutting off the the hot tub which we rarely used.
A combination of easy conservation and using more efficient devices did the trick. The proof is in the numbers:from January to April, 2007, our household usage dropped from an embarrassing 1,841 kilowatt hours to a 758. Hey, the kids were home from college and because they don't pay the bills, they were not terribly concerned about conservation.
Better yet, our bill dropped from $307 in January to $127 in April and we've been closer to the lower number and even under it ever since.
So it was with great interest that I listened to the various venture capitalists in the video here debate the merits of smart meters. One spent $2,500 on a smart meter for his new green home and made the following observation: "You get a smart meter and it tells you all this stuff but so what." Indeed!
Some of the information provided by a smart meter can be found on your monthly snail mail electric bill and in understanding which appliances are energy hogs. So before you entertain the idea of installing a smart meter, reap the low-hanging fruit that can be found in the numbers on your electric bill.