The evolution of smart meters
Around 7 million smart meters have been installed in homes in the UK since they were introduced in 2009, primarily to simplify the billing process.
The government hope that these will help to create a more efficient, low-carbon, and reliable energy grid. They originally stated that every home would have a smart meter installed by 2020, but they have now changed this to say that every home will be offered a smart meter by 2020, giving consumers back the choice.
How do smart meters work?
Smart meters automatically send gas and electricity readings digitally from the customer’s house directly to their energy provider. They do this using radio waves like those used by mobile phones and televisions, meaning an internet connection is not needed to send and receive data.
The customer has an in-home display screen showing how much energy they are using, and the meter is installed for them by an engineer so there is no need for DIY.
What are the benefits of smart meters?
The main benefit of having a smart meter is that the consumer no longer needs to send meter readings to their energy supplier, or let their representatives into their homes, to receive accurate bills. This also saves costs for utility companies not having to employ teams to read the meters.
In addition to this, consumers can track their energy usage using the in-home display screen and see exactly how much energy they are using and how much it is costing them to do so. This can also be monitored via an online account and will display figures in almost real-time.
Most smart meters will allow the customer to see how much energy has been used within the last hour, week, or month, which means that they can see how this differs over time and gain understanding about how they might be able to cut down their energy usage and save money.
It has been estimated that the average household will save around £26 per year by 2020 after having a smart meter installed, and this will rise to a saving of £43 per year by 2030 due to rising energy costs. The display itself is very low energy and only uses around £1 of electricity to run per year.
In addition, data can be gathered about how much energy is being used at which parts of the day which can be used to create more accurate tariffs that will help customers to save money and use energy more efficiently.
This is also good for the utility companies as a better understanding of their customers enables them to develop more targeted products and services.
As there are so many benefits of using smart meters for utility companies, consumers, and the environment, we believe they are a great innovation and adoption will continue to increase rapidly.