Smart meters are now being rolled out in pilot programs across the country. These advanced meters are the key to creating a true smart grid in the United States and hold multiple benefits for consumers.

First, a smart meter allows two-way communication with your utility. Instead of telling the utility how much energy you use, consumers can get real-time pricing information to see when electricity demand (and price) is highest. These periods of peak demand are often met by fossil fuel generation, so if you reduce your energy use, you'll not only save some money but you'll also help reduce emissions.

Second, smart meters make it easier for consumers to integrate their own clean-energy generation sources like rooftop solar or micro-scale wind onto the grid. Through two-way communication, your utility can "see" your home as an individual generation unit, and any clean energy you generate but don't need can feed into the overall grid to help meet demand - and you'll get paid for the amount of power you provide!

Check with your local electric utility, your state's public utility commission, or to see what options are available to you.

Follow Matt Berger at @byMattBerger