When it comes to electricity and gas, it is easy to inadvertently lose track of how much you are spending; even if you could interpret the various dials and numbers on your meter it would take a determined enthusiast to accurately convert the information so that you know exactly how much you are spending. Furthermore, while most householders understand the importance of energy saving, many do not convert their words into actions to bring down their domestic fuel costs. With smart meter installation, all this could change.
What is a smart meter?
The Government plans that the roll-out of smart meters will be completed by 2020 by which time all UK households will be enjoying the benefits of switching from a conventional meter. A smart meter measures your energy consumption in a similar way to a conventional meter and communicates this data directly to your energy supplier. But it also provides the homeowner with important information about how much energy has been used, the associated cost and the times of day that you have used it.
The in-home display (IHD) enables you to compare your current energy consumption with previous usage so you can be aware of changing costs over time; it also communicates with the meter remotely so you can monitor your energy use without having to look at the meter itself.
What are the benefits of smart meters?
Smart meters offer a number of advantages over conventional meters and these benefits will be available as soon as your new meter is installed.
1. An end to estimated bills: As the smart meter will transmit your energy consumption data directly to your energy supplier, you should not receive estimated bills which at present can be confusing and difficult to budget for.
2. Remote access: Your energy supplier will be able to access your smart meter remotely meaning an end to knocks on the door by the meter reader (and no more emptying of cupboards to enable him to locate the meter in the dark). An occasional safety or accuracy check may be necessary from time to time.
3. Greater flexibility: It will be easier for customers to switch from a credit meter to a prepayment meter (or vice versa). For prepayment customers an increased range of payment methods to include cash, internet payments or mobile apps will make topping up the meter far more straightforward than with a conventional prepayment meter.
4. Greater control: The wealth of data available on the IHD will not only inform how much has been spent on energy but also the times of day when more energy is being consumed, so customers will be able to focus on reducing their usage at peak times. With the ability to see the amount spent in a given period, such as the previous week or month, customers will be able to make accurate comparisons between times, measure increases or decreases in energy usage and budget more realistically. With greater flexibility and control and the ability to see real-time energy usage instead of relying on a bill up to three months later, saving money should become the norm.
5. Changing supplier: Easier switching will be possible from one supplier to another, replacing the protracted process which currently some consumers find off-putting.
6. The future world of the smart meter: With the roll-out of smart meters gathering pace, it won’t be long before consumers across the country are experiencing the benefits and, with further technological advances planned, the face of energy supply and billing will change dramatically, putting the consumer at the heart of the process.