Category

Energy Saving

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Get Smart About Smart Meters

smart meter roll out

Disclosure: this post is in partnership with Smart Energy GB

Regular readers may remember that in October last year I wrote about Big Energy Saving Week and ways in which you can reduce your energy consumption and bills.  As part of that post I talked about smart meters, and how they can help keep an eye on your energy consumption.

Smart meters are going to be offered to us all over the next few years, free of charge, so today I wanted to share some more information on smart meters and some research that has been released about how they are being received by those who have already upgraded to using smart meters.

What are smart meters?

A smart meter is just like your normal gas and electricity meter except that they transmit your actual meter readings direct to your supplier allowing them to prepare an accurate bill.  As part of the upgrade you will be offered a smart meter display free of charge from your energy supplier, who has a legal obligation to offer you one.  

The smart meter will sit in your house and shows you in near real time how much energy you are using and how much it is costing you in pounds and pence.

As well as that the good news is you won’t have to deal with any more estimated bills, and there will be no need for you to submit meter readings (especially handy if your meter is in an awkward place!) and you will have no more unexpected callers asking to read the meter.

free smart meter

Do people like them?

Householders who already have them installed have rated their smart meters massively higher than those still using the old analogue technology.  Smart Energy GB surveyed over 10,000 people across the country and it is clear that overwhelmingly, people feel more in control of the energy they use and are saving money by using the smart meter display to monitor and reduce their consumption.

Here are some of the key facts from the survey:

  • More than half (52%) of people with smart meters say their new meter is helping them save money.
  • Eight in ten (80%) of people with a smart meter have taken at least one step to reduce how much energy they use.
  • Eight in ten (79%) of people with a smart meter would recommend them to others.
  • 85% of those using smart meters say they have a better understanding of what they are spending on energy.
  • 81% of people using smart meters are more confident in the accuracy of their bills compared to those with traditional meters (64%).
  • 75% of people with smart meters say that they understand their energy bills, while just 61% of people using traditional meters said the same.
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) of people with a smart meter say that they have the information they need to choose the right energy tariff, far higher than those with traditional meters (57%).

Does having smart meter fitted save me money?

The smart meter itself doesn’t save you money, but by seeing your energy in real time and the actual cost the theory is it should nudge you along to stop wasting energy.  Think how many times you have boiled a kettle only to walk away and then re-boil it a few minutes later when you remember – hopefully the smart meter will make you more aware of how much energy is involved in boiling a kettle (hint – it’s a lot!).

By being a very visible reminder that using energy costs money the technology can help us all be more energy conscious, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Over two million smart meters have already been installed, and you can read about the experiences of real people here.

Where can I get one?

They come at no extra cost, so your supplier will not make any charge for the device when they come to install it.  They are paid for through our standing charge, in the same way that maintenance of analogue meters is paid for now.

Between now and 2020 every home and micro-business in England, Scotland and Wales will be offered the chance to upgrade to a smart meter.  Your energy supplier will get in touch with you when they are installing in your area, but you can preempt this by registering your interest by visiting your suppliers website or giving them a call.

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Save Energy With Big Energy Saving Week

big energy saving week

big energy saving week

Disclosure: this post is in partnership with Smart Energy GB

This week is Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign between the Energy Saving Trust, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Citizens Advice – all about helping people to check they are on the best deal; switching tariff or supplier; and saving energy by taking control of their heating and electricity.

I’m all about saving energy (and money).  I’ve spoken a lot about energy saving in the past – here are my 15 easy (and perhaps unexpected) ways to save energy – from dusting your fridge to adjusting your TV – but what about some of the more obvious ways to save energy?

Something I haven’t covered in the past are smart meters – those handy devices that can help you save energy and money in your home by providing you with your energy use in pounds and pence, in near real time.  I don’t have one yet, but my parents do and it’s really handy just to see exactly what appliances are energy guzzlers, and the difference just turning down your heating by 1°C can make to your energy usage and bills.

free smart meter

Smart meters don’t just tell you your energy usage, but also send automatic meter readings to your utility company, meaning accurate bills, and an end to meter readings and unpredictable estimates, which is brilliant.

If you’re on a prepayment meter then with a smart meter you’ll be able to check your balance, and even top up your meter from your smartphone, online, or on the phone.  When we moved into our house in April, we had prepayment gas and electricity meters which we couldn’t change for a couple of months.  We found it was a pain in the bum having to go to the shop to top up on a regular basis.  We also always ended up buying biscuits or cakes, even if we just popped in to top up the meter, so this would have been a godsend for our wallets and hips!  Our gas meter isn’t in the most accessible place, so it was a hassle having to scramble about on the floor to top it up too.

The good news is that you don’t have to go out and buy a smart meter – by 2020 every household in Great Britain will be offered a free smart meter from their energy company, which they will also install free of charge for you.  Smart Energy GB, the national campaign behind the smart meter roll out, have put together a guide on how you can get a smart meter, with tips on how you might be able to speed up the process.

Of course, it’s not just a case of having a smart meter.  You’ve got to be able to understand how to read it!  Here’s a really handy guide on how to read and understand a smart meter display:

If you can’t see the video you can find it here.

Some Other Top Energy Saving Tips

Beyond my 15 ways to save energy there are some other simple ways to save energy.  My top tips are:

Invest in basic draught proofing for your home – such as draught proofing strips for your doors and windows.  October is a good time to do this, in preparation for winter, and the strips can be picked up cheaply from any DIY store.

Add radiator reflector foil to the walls behind your radiator.  Not only will this reflect heat back into the room, but will reduce heat loss by as much as up to 50%, especially if you’re using it on radiators that are mounted on to external walls.  Again, the foil can be picked up cheaply from any DIY store – the cheapest I’ve seen it is £4.99 a roll – so we’re not talking big bucks!

Switching to LED light bulbs when your existing bulbs run out are another great energy saving tip.  Although more expensive than traditional energy saving bulbs they are cheaper to run.  We’ve recently installed them in our bathroom, and don’t heat up when in use, compared to halogen bulbs, making them safer too.

Rather than switching off your heating when you leave your house, try and get into the habit of switching off your heating about half an hour before you’re due to leave the house.  It takes around half an hour for a house to cool down after switching off the heating, so you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference, and you’ll pocket the savings!

Do you have a smart meter?  Has it changed your behaviour, or helped you to save energy?  Do share in the comments below!