How your smart meter can help you navigate the energy crisis
We’re all worried about the rise in energy bills, but could your smart meter give you a bit of extra help? Let’s find out more.
It’s been the top news story for months. Gas and electricity prices are at record levels due to a perfect storm of factors, including the war in Ukraine and a resurgence in demand after COVID-19. It’s tough for all of us, even with government intervention that fixes the unit price of gas and electricity for six months (recently reduced from two years). However, you can take measures to reduce your energy consumption and, by definition, your bills. Many of them come from your smart meter.
In this article, we’ll look at how your smart meter can help you survive the energy crisis. Some require some action on your part; others will happen automatically. So, let’s go.
Smart meter data helps the national effort
As part of the UK government’s policy to help people through the energy crisis, they have fixed the unit price of gas and electricity. As a result, the average amount a household will pay will be £2,500. While this is much higher than the amount people were paying last year, it’s much lower than they would be paying if the unit price was left to market forces.
To help the government monitor how well the fix is working, it published guidance about how it will collect and use data from household smart meters. Smart meter data will provide insights into who is using what, where and when. It will help it understand whether or not people are taking steps to reduce consumption, as well as evaluate delivery for vulnerable groups.
Previously, collecting this data for insight purposes was not a priority for the authorities. However, the current situation has made it a feasible way to monitor performance.
What smart meter data do they collect?
Suppliers typically collect data from your smart meter at midnight. The nature of the information they can collect depends on the type of smart meter you have. The most useful meters have Consumer Access Devices (CAD), which allow more types of data to be collected.
With a CAD, your smart meter can collect data on:
- Your tariff
- Real-time price
- Real-time power usage for electricity in kW
- Prepayment information (if applicable)
Who can see it?
Your smart meter data is stored carefully and only shared when necessary. However, if there is a good reason (as the government believes there is now), your smart meter data could be seen by:
- Energy suppliers
- Energy market regulators
- Law enforcement
We will have to wait and see who will monitor this data, how much they will see and what they will do with it.
In the meantime, you should use your smart meter to help you make the right decisions around energy consumption.
How smart meters can help you use energy more efficiently
Rather than rely on the government to use our smart meter data to help us consume energy in the right way, we can take action ourselves.
Smart meters are great at showing – in real-time – how much energy you use. You only have to see it spark into life when you switch your kettle on to understand how our everyday life relies on energy. If you’re serious about using less power and minimising your bills when unit prices are high, your smart meter can help you make better decisions.
There is also a discussion in the industry about making ‘time of use’ tariffs for smart meter owners more widespread. It would act as a financial incentive to make smart meter owners spread out their energy use into off-peak hours, reducing strain on the National Grid. For example, on a time of use tariff, running your washing machine in the evening would cost less than using it during the day. If that sounds like a good idea for your household, investigate it with your energy supplier.
Have you got yours yet?
If you haven’t grabbed your smart meter yet, there’s probably never been a better time. Why rely on out-of-date technology when the stakes have never been higher?
Smart meters end estimated bills by automatically sending your usage data to your supplier. You can also see instantly how much energy you’re using, which can nudge you into making better energy choices. Sure, it’s good for the planet, but in times like these, it’s, more importantly, good for your bank balance. Talk to your supplier about booking a smart meter installation today.
We hope the energy situation will stabilise soon, but until then, keep watching your smart meter.