Are smart meters really that smart?

They're everywhere

TV advertisers have clearly decided that cartoon characters are the best way to make dry subjects more appealing. Which is why the Flintstones are trying to get us to switch banks, and why an animated double-act called Gaz and Leccy have been chosen to persuade us to replace our old gas and electricity meters with ‘smart’ digital ones.

But what exactly IS a smart meter? And why is the government so keen on us upgrading our energy meters? In many ways, a smart meter is like any electricity or gas meter, in that it measures how much energy you’re using. The difference is that they do it digitally, and let you see precisely how much energy you're using, and how much it's costing, in pounds and pence, using a portable display screen. Plus, the data a smart meter measures gets sent wirelessly to your energy company via a secure national communication network, rather than you having to read the meter yourself and send them the information.

No more manual readings

Because smart meters send your actual energy usage to your supplier, they certainly make life easier. Let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a faff having to read the meter every month. And if your energy provider is in the habit of sending someone round to read your meter, what are the chances that they ring your bell when you’re in the middle of something, in the bath, or at a crucial moment of your favourite TV show? Whereas, you can leave a smart meter to do its thing, while you get on with your life. Another good thing is that smart meters mean no more estimated bills. Why guess how much gas and electricity you’re using?

More than just convenience

So far, so useful. But why have the government made a commitment to get every household in Britain to have a smart meter by 2020? The answer is that smart meters are part of a desire to meet the challenges of global warming. It’s not just the government that believes smart meters can make a difference on this front – it’s a view shared by many environmental groups and campaigners. They all agree that being able to more accurately monitor our energy use and what it costs us will, in the long term, drive us to make changes in how we use energy and basically use less of it.

It makes sense really. There’s something about seeing the number of kilowatts you’re using increase when you put the kettle on, that reminds you how much impact your lifestyle has on your daily energy use. And it’s quite satisfying turning off unnecessary lights in the house and seeing your energy use go down before your eyes.

In fact, reducing the amount of energy you use gives you a double sense of satisfaction. First, there’s the nice feeling of doing something good to help the planet. Second, you know that your actions are also saving you money- it’s win win.

Ultimately, this is what we at First Utility think makes smart meters so smart – that they’re a smart choice for anyone wanting to be a bit greener and save themselves some money. Which is all of us, isn’t it?

First Utility’s smart meters are installed by tech giants Siemens, and we believe they’re a great way to help our customers be more in control of their energy use and spend, something we’re passionate about. The meter itself, and the fitting of it, is all completely without charge. If you’re interested in getting a smart meter, you can register your interest here.

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