Smart Meters have been huge in America with 70 million installed. Here in the UK, we are more cautious about this new piece of technology. Only 8.6 million have been installed so far amid concerns over viruses, big brother privacy invasion concerns and billing problems.
But according to Smart Energy GB, the independent body promoting smart meters, consumers are saving 354kWh per year which amounts to roughly one week of energy saving per year. But what is a smart meter and do you want one in your home?
What are smart meters?
Smart meters are connected meters which are designed to replace gas and electricity meters. The benefit of this is that you don’t need to let an engineer into your home to take your meter readings or waste time filling them in online, the smart meter sends all your meter readings directly to your energy supplier. This then means you will get billed based on how much gas and electricity you are using rather than just an estimate of what you are using. You may still be billed according to your average monthly usage of your annual consumption, but you will still be paying for what energy you are using.
The smart meter is wirelessly connected to a little in-home display which you can position anywhere around your home. This enables you to keep an eye on your energy consumption and track how and when you are using the most energy. Beside the kWh measurements, you can also see how much you are using in pounds and pennies displayed on the little screen.
How do you get a smart meter?
It is not mandatory to have a smart meter in hour home, however, you should be offered one by your energy supplier. The Government wants everyone in England, Scotland and Wales to have been offered one by 2020. If you have not been offered a smart meter and are interested in getting one for your home, you can contact your supplier to hurry them along. Unfortunately, if you are in an area with poor mobile coverage or using a pre-pay meter, you may have a longer wait.
Things to consider about smart meters
There are some scare stores around smart meters including the amount of microwave radiation they produce. However, According to Public Health England, British Gas and Cancer Research UK, the levels of radiation from smart meters are very low – lower than those from mobile phones and tablets.
One definite downside is the possibility of a third party “hacking” your smart meter. There have been no reports of any hacks as of yet, however, there have been a number of attacks on the energy sectors in Turkey, Israel and Finland, leaving homes cold as the computers controlling the water and heating systems were disabled. As a result, countries in Europe are paying particular attention to smart meter security.
When it comes to getting your bills correct, there is no evidence to suggest that smart meters will overcharge you for your energy usage. There have been a few instances of mistakes where customers have been billed incorrectly for their gas and electricity usage, but these customers never paid a penny towards their glitched bills once they were reported.
Are smart meters worth it?
Smart meters may not be for you and they may not save you as much money as switching energy supplier will, but they are handy devices to have around if you are interested in keeping an eye open on when you are spending more on your gas electricity and whether you can make any changes to reduce your energy bills.