We asked three families about their experiences with smart meters
Over the next four years, more than 26 million homes in Britain will be offered smart meters, which measure gas and electricity use in near real time, and display their cost on a portable in-home display. Three households today tell how smart meters have made a difference to their lives – helping them to reduce the amount of energy they waste and save money as a result.
Energy suppliers are offering every household the option to have one installed, at no extra cost – replacing the traditional gas and electricity meters we currently have.
Smart meters send automatic readings to your supplier, putting an end to estimated bills.
But, most importantly, they give you the information needed to take control of your energy use. Seeing the cost of the gas and electricity you’re using can help you identify areas of wastage and save money. But what’s it really like to have one?
Here we speak to the Smiths, the Ruslings and the Johnsons to find out…
Jonathan Smith, 28, lives with his wife, Aimee, and their one-year- old son, Maxwell, in a two-bedroom end-of- terrace house.
New home came with smart technology
“When we bought our new-build sustainable home in October 2014, it came with a number of environmentally friendly features, including smart meters.
“From the moment we moved in we were impressed that we were able to see so much information about our energy consumption on the display unit, and it allowed us to make immediate changes to reduce it.
“Then, just a few months after we moved into the house, my wife had our son, and we wondered if our usage would increase while she was at home looking after him.
“Fortunately, because we had become more energy conscious, we were able to keep the bills low.
“These days, we’re still aware of how much gas and electricity we’re using. We keep the display unit in the kitchen, so that whenever we walk past it we’re reminded that appliances left on standby are still using up energy.
“Aimee and I do try to be more careful now not to waste gas and electricity.
“Having a smart meter has made a difference to the way we live, and it’s good knowing that we’re adopting good habits that will benefit the planet while saving ourselves money too.”
Money saved: £15 per month
Saving spent on: Nappies
Bryce Rusling, 68, a retired company director lives with his wife, Jenny, in a four-bedroom detached house.
“When we first had them installed we used to constantly monitor our energy usage on the display unit, but as time has gone on, we have found that there are additional advantages.
“The biggest benefit I find with our smart meters is that they constantly report back to our supplier about our energy usage. I can simply log on online to obtain all that information.
“Having those figures so readily available has made it much easier for me to compare prices between suppliers, driving down the cost year after year.
“In addition, we don’t have to worry about strangers coming into our homes to do meter readings.
“We now pay £83 per month for gas and electricity for a detached house, which I think is very good.
“I’m sure we wouldn’t have been able to reduce the cost by quite so much if we hadn’t had the smart meter installed.”
Money Saved: £300-£400 per year
Saving Spent on: Home improvements
Graham Johnson, 56, a finance professional, lives in a four-bedroom terraced house with his wife, Michaela, and daughters Anastazia, 12 and Katerina, 8.
The whole family are now much more conscious about their energy usage
“It’s only been four months since we had our smart meters installed by our new energy company, but we’ve already seen the benefits in our first utility bill,” says Graham.
“Being able to see on the display unit just how much, in pounds and pence, your energy is costing you really does focus your mind.
“It reminds you to turn off appliances that shouldn’t be on, which in turn helps you to conserve energy.
“It’s amazing to see the difference between our energy output first thing in the morning, when we only have the fridge-freezer turned on, compared to later when the kettle, TV, hair dryer, toaster and shower can all be on at the same time. The average cost quickly zooms from pennies to 34p per hour.
“It really does make you think.”
Graham adds: “Our smart meter has taught us all about how we use gas and electricity, and being more aware of how easy it is to waste energy has allowed us to save between £30-£40 in the first quarter alone.
“My eldest daughter is really interested in saving energy, and has been surprised that using devices costs as much as it does.
“I make a point of explaining it all to her, and I think that if the younger generation is educated on the importance of not wasting gas and electricity, once smart meters go into all of the homes, it could have a massive long-term effect on both national and global energy conservation.
“We all know that we don’t have a never-ending supply of energy, and seeing how much gas and electricity a home can go through each day makes you realise just how much could be saved if everyone made that extra effort, which must help our future generations.”
Money saved: £30-£40 per quarter
Saving spent on: A family trip to the theatre
The future is smart
Smart meters are the new generation gas and electricity meters. They show how much gas and electricity you’re using, and how much it’s costing you in pounds and pence. They also send automatic meter readings to your energy supplier. In addition, smart meters will benefit prepay customers by offering easy top-up options via phone or tablet.
To find out how you can get a smart meter visit smartenergyGB.org