With promises of reduced energy costs and better energy tracking, Smart Meters are a hot topic in the energy industry. But as with all new technology, not everyone is convinced. So, let’s look at the truth about Smart Meters.
What is a Smart Meter?
Compared to regular ones, Smart Meters automatically send meter readings to your energy supplier and – with the In-home Device (IHD) – allow you to track spend in real time.
Are they a new thing?
Well, in the UK our roll-out has just begun, which is one of the reasons for the intense media coverage. However, smart meters are not a new concept. Many countries globally have had Smart Meters for years – like in Brazil or the US. In fact, by the end of 2017, more than half of US electricity customers had a smart meter installed. We are merely following a trend that has been proven to be a success elsewhere. At the moment, many European countries are in the middle of a roll-out – such as Austria, Denmark, France and Spain – whilst Italy, Finland and Sweden have already completed their roll-outs.
Why get one?
The main benefit of a Smart Meter for customers is that it will enable you to save money. By being aware of what you are using, you can stay on top of your usage and address any inefficiencies at your property. Another benefit will be that the dreaded ‘Estimated Bill’ will be a thing of the past, meaning you really will only pay for the energy you use. The result of this is better billing, but also no need to scrabble about under the stairs or in the cupboard for your meter readings. For those who are environmentally conscious, you’ll be pleased to know that by controlling your usage, you will be making a positive difference to the environment.
Why so much bad press?
To start with, the project went over budget, which is never the best way to start. There have also been campaigns relating to health, privacy and reports stating that Smart Meters will make customers pay more on their bills, not less. None of these things can be 100% proven one way or the other, but all can be put into context.
Starting with health, many people believe that having a smart meter in your home exposes you to high levels of radiation – leading to headaches, dizziness and even cancer. Whilst many devices do emit radiation, the risk is relatively low. One thing we can be sure of is that a Smart Meter emits less harmful radiation than a mobile phone which sits in our pocket 24/7.
Having recording devices in our homes can rightfully raise the question; what happens to my data? With comparisons to the Alexa device (and all the bad press that comes with it) the feeling that Smart Meters provide a privacy breach has gathered pace. However,
Smart Meters transmit energy consumption data once a day and contain no more information than a current meter. Data is not individualised and cannot be sold on to third parties without active prior consent by the household. The industry body Smart Energy GB takes a similar line. “Your smart meter stores and transmits simple information on how much energy your home has used. Personal details like your name, address and bank account details are not stored on or transmitted by the meter. Your supplier can’t use any data from your smart meter for sales and marketing purposes unless you give them permission to do so.” While Smart Meters are more accurate, GDPR and privacy policies ensure that your data is always protected. For more information on this, click here.
Some fear that by not having a Smart Meter, their energy supplier will discriminate against them and not offer the cheapest deals. We cannot talk for all suppliers, but at Solarplicity we will ensure this is not the case. We want to champion the Smart Meter idea and we currently offer a discount for all our SMART Fixed customers because we want to incentivise our customers to consider having one. However, at present our next cheapest deal is only £25.50 per year more expensive, and other discounts are available if you are dual fuel.
What does the future look like?
Smart Meters represent the start of a smarter, cleaner energy system in the UK. With one installed at your home, you can create a “Smart Home” to whichever degree suits you. Automatic lighting and device control will soon become the norm. However, for now we should all be pleased that estimated meter readings and inaccurate bills are things that we won’t encounter again.
How do I get a Smart Meter?
If you are not currently a Solarplicity customer, you can get a quote here and then book your free smart meter installation.