Let’s face it, understanding how much gas and electricity you are using – and most importantly how much it is all costing you – isn’t an easy process. Usually you have to climb up on a ladder or go down into the cellar to find the latest meter readings, submit them to your energy company, only to get a nasty shock when you get a bill for hundreds of pounds a few days later.
Thankfully the days of having to read your own meter are nearing an end. The Government has signalled its intention for all homes to have smart meters installed by 2019 and some energy companies, like British Gas, are getting ahead of the game and installing them in people’s homes right now. Billed as the biggest infrastructure programme since the 1970s when we switched from coal to natural gas as our main fuel, smart meters will fundamentally change the relationship we have with our energy provider by putting us in control of our usage.
As part its vision for a Smart Energy Future, British Gas commissioned Oxford Economics to investigate the value of smart metering to Britain. It found that, while the national roll out will cost £11.5 billion, the benefits of smart meters could total £25.3 billion – a gain for the country of nearly £14 billion. For more information, see the infographic (right) for a visual summary of the money that could be saved by switching from analogue to smart meters.
As with a conventional meter, there is no upfront cost for the user. You simply pay for the meters (one for gas and one for electricity) through your energy bills, just as you do right now. However, the key is that smart meters allow you to monitor usage in real time much more effectively via a handheld device known as a smart energy monitor. With a smart energy monitor you can see how much energy you are using at any given moment in time – even how much it costs you to boil a kettle if you so wish!
You can also set daily, weekly or monthly budgets depending on the kind of user you are and receive ‘traffic light’ based information to help you plan your usage – ie. red lights show if you are exceeding your limits, amber if you are close to the limit and green if you are below the limit. It’s even possible to bring up the actual meter readings on the smart energy monitor’s display to save you ever having to visit the meter in the cellar or that cupboard at the top of the stairs. Importanly smart meter readings are sent back wirelssly to British Gas which means no more estimated bills. You’re only paying for the electricity and gas you use, making it easier to budget.
So how do you get a smart meter? When your home is ready for an upgrade, British Gas will contact you and their highly trained Smart Energy Experts will change your meters, explain how to use your Smart Energy Monitor and even show you how to save on your bills by providing Energy Efficiency advice. If you want to pre-register for a smart meter you can do so by entering your details here.
Want to know more about smart meters? Then click here.