Get smart and cut your energy bills

Ever wondered if your energy bill is accurate as it should be? If so, you might want to switch to a smart meter.

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Almost 80% of consumers with smart meters think their bills are correct, compared with 59% of people with a traditional meter, according to Smart Energy GB. 

What’s more, 84% of customers would recommend a switch to a new-style meter.

New generation

Smart meters are the next generation of energy meters – and the national installation roll-out to every home in the country has begun.

The government experts utility firms to install the new meters (one for electricity and one for gas, as required) in every household in Great Britain by the end of 2020, so your energy supplier might already have been in touch.

Around two million homes are already using smart meters.

There is no upfront cost. Instead, consumers pay for the meter and its maintenance through their energy bills, as they do with standard meters.

Wireless communications

Smart meters, as their name suggests, are cleverer than old-fashioned meters.

They link customers and suppliers using wireless technology, a bit like a smart phone – and the big attraction of smart meters is accurate billing.

The meter can calculate, down to a penny, the cost of your energy consumption, effectively kissing goodbye to estimated bills.

So you pay only for the energy you use. And you don’t have to wait in for someone to read the meter, either.

Display function

The other advantage of smart meters is the in-house display unit, which shows you how much you are spending on energy, in real time, in pounds and pence.

The clever little gadget can have a big impact on your bills. For example, you might resist turning up the heating or putting on the tumble dryer if you can actually see the bill mounting up.

It’s perhaps no surprise that nearly seven in ten (69%) people with a smart meter are more conscious of their energy use and nearly eight in ten (79%) have taken steps to cut down their energy consumption.

Critical reception

Smart meters are not without their critics. Many people question the feasibility of the government target of fitting smart meters for each type of fuel in 30 million households over the next five years.

The meter can calculate, down to a penny, the cost of your energy consumption, effectively kissing goodbye to estimated bills

There is also some disquiet about the consumer-funded cost of the £11 billion programme.

And there are concerns about data protection, but it should be noted that personal data, such as your name, address or financial details, are never stored on or transmitted by the meter. It only transmits information about how much energy you use.

When will I get my smart meter(s)?

If you supplier has not already contacted you about arranging an appointment to fit a smart meter, you can find out more about is planned schedule from its website, or you can visit Smart Energy GB.

It’s worth remembering, however, that smart meters are not compulsory. If you prefer to stick with your old fashioned meter, you can simply say no.

When it comes to switching energy supplier to get a better deal, smart meters shouldn’t cause any problems or delays.

Simply tell your chosen new supplier that you have a working smart meter or meters from your current supplier, and they should sort out the rest.

Our top six energy-saving tips:

1 Turn it off. We waste a lot of energy by leaving electrical appliances on standby when they aren't in use. The average house could save about £85 a year by switching off at the plug.

2 Turn it down. Many rooms are overheated. If you can turn the thermostat down by one degree you could save £65 a year.

3 Keep it cool. Washing clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40 could knock £9 a year off your bills. Make sure that washing machines and dishwashers contain a full load and to use eco programmes where possible.

4 Buy efficient. Home appliances come with an energy-efficiency rating, usually from A to D, with new items having a grade of A rating. You could save up to £90 a year by choosing the most efficient.

5 Choose shower power. Take a shower instead of a bath and you'll use less hot water. If you install a water-efficient head to your shower, you could save about £75 a year on energy, plus a further £90 on your water bill if you have a meter.

6 Let there be new light bulbs! Replace old light bulbs with energy saving ones and you could save about £3 a year, or £55 over the life of the bulb.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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