Smart meters help save energy, make meter reading automatic. And you'll have one in your home by 2020...
Smart meters and accompanying in-home displays will help you keep track of the energy you use, and will cut out the need for meter readings. But how do they work and what do they do? And when will they be available? We answer your smart meter questions.
Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters. They collect information about your energy use - electronically at regular intervals.
The benefits of a smart meter are:
- No more meter readings – your energy supplier will receive regular information on energy usage automatically without visiting your home, and without you having to report your own meter reading.
- More accurate bills - your bill will always be based on the exact energy you use, not on an estimate.
- Keep track of the energy you use – smart meters will be accompanied by an in-home display, which will enable you to see how much energy is being used in your home in near real time. It will also enable you to compare your energy use between days and across different time periods.
The introduction of smart meters also offers other potential benefits. They may help you save money by enabling you to use energy at ‘off-peak’ times, when demand for electricity is lower and it is cheaper.
They may also help you to sell energy back to the grid - if you generate your own energy by using solar panels, for example. Energy suppliers may also offer other services to enable you to track your energy usage, for example online accounts or through mobile phone applications.
The government has decided that every home in England, Wales and Scotland should receive smart meters by 2020. Around 26 million homes will be fitted with smart meters over the next 10 years. Many other countries have started using smart meters. But the UK will be the first to roll them out on such a large scale.
The in-home display connected to the smart meter will show you how much energy you are using, enabling you to monitor your usage more easily, change habits and cut down waste. You will be able to see instantly when you're using lots of energy - and how much it's costing you.
It will be easier to identify ways you could make savings. Smart meters and displays have been trialled in countries ranging from Sweden to the US. These trials have shown that smart meters can reduce household energy bills by 5 to 10 per cent.
The full roll out of smart meters by all energy suppliers is likely to start in mid-2012. It will take a number of years for energy suppliers to provide all their customers with smart meters. Some suppliers may be willing to respond to requests for smart meters, while others may work through areas one at a time. British Gas has already started installing smart meters, and other energy suppliers may begin their rollout before 2012.
In the meantime, see how you can save energy around your home.