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What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are a relatively new technology that’s being rolled out across the UK to replace your home’s conventional energy meter. They tell you the exact of amount of energy you’re using, thereby letting you curb your energy usage accordingly and become more energy efficient. They communicate with your energy supplier, preventing the need for someone to visit your home and read the meter in person.

The UK is still in the process of rolling out smart meters, and nationwide coverage will be available by the end of 2020. Millions of smart meters have already been installed in homes and businesses across the UK. The entire smart meter program is expected to save an estimated £300 million a year—or £5.7 billion over the duration of the entire smart meter initiative.

Essentially, a smart meter is a new type of meter that measures gas and electricity usage. Each meter comes with an In Home Display (IHD) that can be used to read your home’s current energy usage at any time. Smart meters are regulated to confirm that they display accurate readings and information, ensuring that your energy bill is always correct. Although it began as a government requirement, having a smart meter is completely optional for homeowners.

The benefits of a smart meter

Smart meters are incredibly beneficial and will save you a lot of money in the long run. Below are some of the smart meter advantages you can expect.

  • They’re free Yes, perhaps the biggest benefit is that your energy supplier foots the bill and installs a smart meter without charging you for it. Installers are also required to give you helpful tips on how you can begin reducing your energy usage.
  • Real time energy information The IHD displays live energy usage as it’s consumed throughout a household and tracks energy usage during peak hours of the day. Energy statistics can be viewed in pounds and pence, making it easy to see exactly how much you’re spending each time you stream your favourite show on Netflix.
  • Better energy management Being able to see your energy usage as it occurs live can be an effective way to limit your energy consumption consciously. For instance, you can see how much it costs when lights are left on throughout the day, or the energy that’s consumed by a computer even when it’s not in use. Using this information, you can set energy goals and gradually scale your utility bill down until it becomes more manageable.
  • Better savings Conventional gas and electricity meters made it difficult to measure and compare the cost of an energy bill with the amount that was used each day. Now, many energy suppliers offer online tools that work in tandem with a smart meter, allowing homeowners to observe and react to their energy usage in real time.
  • Green energy Research has shown that 79% percent of home and business owners with smart meters were more likely to curb their energy usage thanks to the new meter. For energy suppliers, smart meters allow them to adjust the effectiveness of renewable electricity at any time of day, targeting specific areas that require more energy or limiting energy to certain areas.
  • Easy to switch suppliers Energy suppliers are quickly adopting and installing smart meters across the UK. This is good news for consumers, as you’ll be able to quickly compare prices and services between each provider and then make the appropriate switch that suits you.

With every boiler quote we can talk you through how much you could save with a new energy supplier, as well as a new boiler.

Are there any disadvantages to smart meters?

There are a couple of negative features of smart meters, although overall the pros outweigh the cons.

Some criticism has been drawn because the first wave of smart meters was essentially useless, leaving millions of users stuck (briefly) with unusable technology. This occurred because energy suppliers adopted a new national communications network that wasn’t compatible with the original smart meters.

Others are worried about their privacy, claiming that energy suppliers can use the data they collect from individuals and households and use it for promotions or sell it to third-party companies. However, outside of your energy usage being used to calculate your bill, you get to decide how each supplier uses your data and whether a company can use your data for marketing purposes.

Finally, there are those that say the device just isn’t cost effective. While the long-term benefits are yet to be seen, so far smart meters are proving to be a valuable tool for homeowners.

Why is a smart meter a good investment?

Unless you’d like to continue guessing why your energy bill is so expensive each month, smart meters are an excellent addition to your home. They’re free, they send your energy data automatically to your supplier, and they provide insightful information that can help you make better energy related decisions.

The best part of a smart meter is having accurate energy information to work with (rather than estimating your energy usage from an older meter). This allows you to easily save money on your energy bills and can help increase your energy awareness as well.

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