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Est. 2004

Smart Meters

Happy New Year guys.

You’re my go to experts never short of an opinion. Are smart meters worth having? What are the pros and cons?

We’ve had one for a few years, can’t honestly say there have been any benefits.

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Cheers Trom :+1:

I don’t have one but sometimes think it would be interesting to see how much energy is being used when I think nothing is on. (Things that stay on all the time, TV box, WiFi router, boiler, alarm clock etc.) Problem is I’m not going to turn those things off so then it would be depressing to know what I am using when the house is empty.

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They are kind of fun to be honest. You can see exactly what appliances are drawing which is interesting. Like the dishwasher doesn’t use much energy except when the heating element is on for part of the cycle. The air fryer doesn’t draw 2KW all the time either where as a George Forman will. On mine you can see the gas usage too. Unless you are an energy fanatic they don’t change your habits very much. On mine you can set energy targets and alarms if you go over but I don’t bother with that. Mine report every day so at least the bills are accurate. You also get an idea of the draw when everything is off (mine is about 100W) so you’ll know if you’ve left something on.

Did they sort out the early teething problems with the meters over reading and costing customers too much?

Personally I wouldn’t want one but I can see the use. In my work I have to use some of the ‘E’ gas meters (smart type) to gas rate appliances, something that should be easy, and was easy on the earlier imperial and metric meters. There are many different types and they all have different methods to access the info making one of the two tasks required of them a pain in the arse.

I presume by now they would be the smets2 ones which would allow you to switch providers more easily. Check that with the company installing it.

I guess it depends what you want. I’m quite happy with the old one and taking a meter and sending… And I don’t pay a lot (small flat) to be worried about what each appliance does. But they do give you a good idea of how much you are using, and when.

I always worry about a smart meter sending wrong readings and then not being able to sort it. But I think the chance of that is quite small and equal to anything in life going wrong.

Main benefits are no submitting meter reading, an no estimated usage. You can see how much you use but that only helps if it’s something you want to see.

Main disadvantage is that they can cut your power remotely, which is only worrying due to energy companies’ desire to bill first, ask questions later, so in theory a missed up account could leave you no power. I can’t see them actually doing this but after having to fight off a £700 bill from a 2 month stint with SSE, I wouldn’t be too surprised

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Dunno, I’ve always been a bit dubious as to the benefits of a smart meter from a punters point of view. With so many electrical devices in a house, each potentially kicking in whenever, or varying what power they draw at different times etc, I just couldn’t see how you could infer much from a single energy usage reading at the meter. I mean, did the electric just peak because of the washing machine cycle, fridge/freezer tripping in, my son jumping into some game on his PC, the immersion heater clicking on, an outside light flicking on, or something else again…

You can get a far better idea of energy usage on a device by a main plug meter that’ll give you the exact draw for a single device in isolation. Though granted it’s no use for anything hard-wired (shower, heating, lighting, ovens, integrated appliances etc).

Likewise, once you ‘discover’ your kettle uses a lot of electricity, the dishwasher not so much, and your PC only a little; what are you going to do with that info? Stop drinking tea? Buy paper plates to avoid washing up? Stop working on your PC? Seriously…

I can certainly see the use in trying to identify stuff that hogs a lot of electric in standby, some stuff pulls negligible amounts, some surprisingly large chunk. But, this is easy enough to do with a standalone watt meter for your plug, where your measurement is isolated from everything else going on in the house. I did find my old cinema amp and TV were pulling 70W combined whilst sat in standby! So, yeah I turn these off at the mains now, but they’re certainly too bloody expensive to replace for the sake of a few quid each year.

I did recently read that having a smart meter does open up some smart meter only energy tariffs, which can sometimes be cheaper. The automatic submission of meter readings I can certainly see being handy, our gas meter is outside under a drain cover so a bit of faff to read. These are the only reasons that tempted me to get smart meters. Unfortunately, I was informed we can only have a smart electric meter and can’t have a smart gas meter, as it’s more than 10m away from the electric meter inside the house. :frowning:

I don’t know about checking individual appliances, but a few utility companies I’ve been with showed you (provided you have the smart meter) on their website how much gas/electricity you use each day and how much it’s costing you (like with graphs and other days of the month for easy comparison), which may or may not be useful to you.

I know when I replaced an aging fridge/freezer my lecca bill almost halved and you could see the exact moment it was unplugged due to the constant monitoring of usage.
So handy to know if you switch something off an hour or two you should see a drop if it’s a heavy hitting.

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After the 7 visits to get mine working (British Gas). I won’t be having any in the new house.

When they did eventually work they din’t really provide that much value. If I don’t need it running then it doesn’t run. if I do then it does.

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I have a theory that energy suppliers are being forced to put them into all U.K. homes because when the inevitable switch to ev’s becomes a reality for almost all drivers/riders. They will be able to decide how much tax you pay on that portion of your electricity supply.

To answer your question though, I don’t personally have one and have zero interest in getting one. I find reading my meter once a month extremely easy and monitoring of my energy usage is of little interest to me. I don’t like the pushy’ness of my provider to get one and therefore am more reluctant… childish, I know!

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It’s not often I find myself linking to a Telegraph article but this is an interesting problem.

If you don’t have an account with Telegraph, there is an archived copy of the same article available at

https://archive.is/BMHZn

It’s less about EVs and more to do with being able to charge efficiently and reduce costs. If meter readings are automated, it needs a lot less man hours to process manual readings, especially when people don’t do it online. It also smoothes readings out and allows them to plan capacity of data is more regularly coming in. There was also pressure from.government as it was linked to energy efficiency (real or not debatable)

I’m sure over time there would be other uses for that data but I don’t ever recall seeing any direct link of smart meters to EVs. Remember when smart meters came and were promoted (Smart Energy GB TV ads), EVs were a very niche thing.

At least that’s what I remember when I worked for an energy supplier. That was over 5years ago mind you.