Smart meters are the clever little gadget designed to give us more insight into the amount (and the price) of gas and electricity we use to power our homes.
They work by providing real time updates about the energy being consumed by different appliances, enabling users to track and control their power usage as well as passing this information back to suppliers. The system also provides more clarity about energy consumption; because not all of us are fluent in kilowatt hours and cubic feet the system breaks gas and electricity use down so bill payers can see exactly what’s being spent in pounds and pence.
Essentially this should but a stop to estimated bills. It’s hoped that by increasing bill payers understanding and awareness of their energy usage, smart meters will encourage more competition among companies in the energy market and empower customers to switch suppliers regularly.
Ann Robinson, Head of Consumer Policy at USwitch foresee the introduction of smart meters revolutionising time of use tariffs, empowering customers to use energy when it is cheapest.
£11 billion is to be invested in rolling out smart meters to 30 million UK households by 2020. So far two million devices have been installed, but the scheme has experience several setbacks.
At present, smart meters connect via mobile network and this leaves some house hold, for example those in rural areas, unable to take advantage of the technology. The development of a purpose built network is underway to fix this issue, though it’s completion date has been pushed back twice already and experts say they wouldn’t be surprised if it happened a third time.