The above picture is the display that communicates with your smart meters that are located in cupboards often outside your property. This display doesn't have to be used, in fact I only plugged it in for this photo! The smart meters continue doing their thing regardless. This display will show you what you are using at any given time and how much you are spending which is really useful when you are being careful with budgeting or want to be mindful of using too much from an environmental viewpoint. The dial you can see is showing 2 green filled squares for my current usage. When you've got the washing machine, dishwasher, oven, hot water all going that whizzes up round & goes into red - a bit like your speedo in your car!
As the energy industry attempts to make itself cleaner, more modern, smart meters support this modernisation. As Britain moves toward a smart grid, utilising new technologies and new ways to deliver energy, smart meters will sit at the centre of this. Two way communication between millions of our homes and the energy grid will allow smarter, real-time responses to energy demand. This will mean suppliers can change how much they produce in line with actual need, a proper supply & demand philosophy.
Gone are the days of estimated bills and meter readings, these showed as "E" on your bill next to the kwh units. Smart meters automatically inform your supplier of what you are using so that you don't need to take manual readings or have engineers round to check meters. It means you are just paying for your usage and nothing else. As in previous journals, I wrote about how you are sometimes in debit & sometimes in credit when choosing to pay in monthly instalments - great for your budgeting as this means you don't have huge bills to pay for in the Winter months and small ones in the Summer months - although you can do this by choosing to pay in arrears instead with most suppliers.
Smart meters are helping the UK to reduce our carbon emissions because they are part of a smarter overall energy system. They will help integrate renewable power such as solar, wind, hydro and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The industry is working hard to decarbonise the whole energy system so we will reduce our carbon footprint.
5. Smart home features such as controlling your heating from your phone need smart meters to be connected. A bit like your older fashioned TV that just accepts a signal through an arial, smart TV's allow us to connect to the internet & a wide array of tv options like Apple TV. The smartness of the meter will allow it to connect throughout your home for better efficiencies.
6. Smart charging for electric vehicles can already benefit from your new meter & tariff as they know when the prices are lowest and when the supply at the grid is at its greatest overnight.
7. What about data collection & security or risk from hackers? Your energy data is transmitted straight to your supplier using a dedicated secure wireless network, lowering the risk of a smart meter hack. The infrastructure that handles your smart meter data is provided by The Data Communications Company which is regulated by Ofgem. The data collected by the meter is your usage only, none of your personal details. Health wise the Public Health England have concluded from their extensive research, that exposure to the radio waves produced by smart meters is likely to be much lower than that from other everyday devices such as mobile phones and wifi equipment. Links to more info at the end.
8. If you are in a rented property and you pay your own bills directly to the supplier you are free to choose who you want to supply you. It is wise to check with your landlord with regards exchanging the old meter for a new smart meter however as this effectively changes the property.
9. Smart meters are free to the customer and costs will be recouped through our bills over time, as it will form part of the suppliers operational costs. If you had one of the first generation smart meters there is a chance you will get another upgrade to the next one by 2024. These early versions weren't great at being compatible with all suppliers so the new SMET2 version is universal. As Maya Angelou said "Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better"
10 Prepayment meters are still very much in use, particularly in rented properties Knowing how much energy you have left on your meter is crucial as you need to top up in advance, so the display will show how much credit you have left. Smart technology means you can top-up your balance from your phone or your computer whenever you need to. No more having to traipse down to a pay point in the rain!
And the last point, number 11, is you don't actually have to have one! They are not mandatory you are welcome to keep your old fashioned meter for the foreseeable.
What will be a probability is not having full access to new tariffs as they become more geared up the smart functionalities of supply & demand.
For example there is a possibility that super cheap overnight charging of electric vehicles might even be free when supply far exceeds demand. We'll wait and see...
Thank you for reading
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