Smart meters are in the process of being rolled out by energy providers and suppliers to homes across the country. Smart Meters are a type of advanced gas and electricity meter. They are constant communication with your energy supplier, sending information automatically without you needing to send quarterly readings. Smart energy meters can end estimated billing and have paved the way for a variety of new price plans.
Smart energy meters in themselves can’t tell you much about your home energy usage; to do this, they come with an energy monitor which you can use to check how you are using energy in your home. You can find out more about smart meters here.
By 2020, the government is committed to smart meters being installed in every home. The government (and energy providers) claim that smart meters can make our energy bills cheaper, end estimated billing and encourage us all to use energy more efficiently. But is this true and will that shiny new smart meter be all it is cracked up to be?
Rolling out smart energy meters
The roll out of smart meters across the country is the biggest IT infrastructure project in UK history. It is a project involving the government and the UK energy industry which will affect your home and your money. As it is rolled out across the country, there is no opt-out and it is a project which will cost energy consumers and/ or taxpayers across the country.
Smart meters – Advantages
- More accurate bills, no more estimated billing
- Monitor your energy usage in real time. See where and how your electricity.
- Allow for better energy tariffs to be introduced in the future.
- Better energy unit pricing.
- They encourage more efficient energy usage in the home.
- Feed in tariffs can sell energy back into the grid in a much easier way – great for home with solar panels, etc.
Smart meters – disadvantages
- Security and hacking issues. There are questions with regards to who else can have access to your smart meter’s data. How is your data stored? To manage this consumer data, the government has set up the Data Communication Company (DOC).
- Costs to consumer, energy providers and the taxpayer.
- There are concerns that radio waves from the meter to your monitor may be unsafe.
Is your smart meter really free?
Smart energy meters offer consumers undeniable benefits and the government and energy industry insist that they will save consumers time and money. But there are still questions about the cost, effectiveness and technical feasibility of the roll out.
In a recent documentary, ITV’s Chris Choi had the following to say with regard to the energy industry and government’s claims:
“Their argument is that there is no up-front cost. To me this would be like a restaurant saying its meals are free because it doesn’t charge you as soon as you walk in!”
Chris Choi – ITV/ Tonight
Will you really save money?
Will installing a smart meter save you money? This depends on your homes energy usage, energy supplier and energy tariff. So far, there is no concrete evidence that a smart meter is guaranteed to cut your energy bills. What we do know is that smart energy meters encourage you to track your energy usage on a daily and even hourly basis. Knowing where and how you are using energy helps consumers to reduce their overall energy usage.
What is the current situation and what future for smart meters?
Smart meters have been piloted across large parts of the EU. Other countries such as the USA have rolled out smart meters to millions of customers across various states, there is still some debate on both sides over their effectiveness. There is also a continuing debate in both the EU and USA, as to their effectiveness in changing consumer usage patterns with some studies showing larger consumer changes than others. It still remains to be seen if smart energy meters cut usage on a large enough scale.
In the UK the chances are that you will either already have a smart energy meter installed or will have one installed in the next couple of years. If you engage with the process and the technology which is installed in your home, you have the chance to make good savings on your energy bills, but to do so your energy usage and habits will need to change.