Smart Meter Pros And Cons And How To Use Them
What are smart meters? Why all of a sudden does everyone seem to be up in arms about smart meters? Will a smart meter save me money? Where can I get a list of smart meter pros and cons?
These are just some of the questions I have seen asked on Google but also some of the questions I have asked myself lately.
As I am writing this we are in the middle of getting a smart meter installation cancelled. Why? You may ask. Well, I will tell you a bit later on once I have listed out some of the smart meter pros and cons and whether the government are right when they say that smart meters will save you money.
Before we get onto smart meter pros and cons though you may be wondering what are smart meters?
What Are Smart Meters?
A smart meter is designed to replace your existing gas and electric meters. They come as a handy LCD display device and this essentially tells not only you but also you energy providers how much gas and electric you are using.
Not only will your smart meter tell you how much energy you are using it will also tell you the cost of the energy you are using.
Put the kettle on to make a cup of tea or coffee and watch as the LCD display tells you how much it is costing to boil that water.
This means that you can keep an eye on the amount of energy you are using and in turn, this will mean you can save money with your smart meter.
Smart meters will send all of this data wirelessly to your energy providers which will we have been told lead to more accurate billing. Smart meters in the future will become an integral piece of a Smart home.
How Do Smart Meters Work?
They are replacing your existing meters and will use wireless signals to collect all of your energy data and send it directly to your energy providers which means you will not have to do any more meter readings and you will also have far more accurate billing from your provider.
You will be given a smart gas meter, a smart electricity meter and what the energy suppliers are calling an IHD which is in-home display although for some reason when writing this article I kept writing in-home device.
The smart electric meter will be attached to your main electricity supply and will give live updates. The gas smart meter will give updates every 30-45 minutes. These 3 devices communicate with each other constantly to give updates on usage and then this information is sent to your supplier.
The only thing you will really notice is the IHD which will be somewhere prominent so you can see it. Usually, this will be in the kitchen.
Will A Smart Meter Save Me Money?
The answer to this question is Yes and No. I know not really helpful is it. This is also coming up a lot in terms of smart meter pros and cons. In the short term, I dont think a smart meter will save you money. For a start, although you dont have to pay anything to get your smart meter and have it installed it is not technically free.
The energy companies will simply offset any cost they incur through the supply and fitment of these devices against your bill. So yes you will pay for it in your monthly bills all be it a small amount.
In the long term with more accurate billing from your provider, it should save you money. Of course, the only way to truly save money with a smart meter comes down to the way you the user read your smart meter and how you interpret that information and act upon it.
Using it correctly is one of the smart meter pros and cons and can make a big difference.
If you already have a frugal mindset then this is perfect for you as you can see exactly where your energy is going and what it is costing live. This means you can make small adjustments to the way you live in order to keep costs down.
When you ask that question will a smart meter save me money? It really will come down to the way you the user use your smart meter. As I said a lot of smart meter pros and cons is decided by you the user.
How To Read A Smart Meter
There are a lot of different ways of reading a smart meter as there is more than one type made by more than one company.
I will go through the basics that you will see on your LCD screen and this will give you the basics on how to read a smart meter.
When reading a smart meter you will see some icons you may recognise at the top of your screen. On the left, you will see the wireless signal strength icon, and on the right, you will traditionally see the battery status and the time of day.
The main round dial is your energy status, This will have an icon for gas or electric and will also show how much you have used and even a budget if you have set one. This is the main dial you will notice when reading your smart meter.
You will then see the cost of your energy usage today. When reading a smart meter you will also have some buttons or arrows at the bottom which will be function buttons and will take you to different screens.
It may take you time to get used to reading a smart meter but each one will come with instructions specifically on reading a smart meter.
Do I Have To Have A Smart Meter?
Simply put no. The UK government are working with the energy providers to roll them out across the whole of the Uk. This will prove difficult with a lot of areas not having a great mobile network.
The government has advised the energy companies to start rolling them out to all households but you can still say no you dont want one. Expect more than one email or call about them though as the energy companies are under pressure to fit them.
If you have an old meter or your meter stops working then it is pretty hard to not get a new smart meter but you are still within your rights to ask for an old-style meter to be replaced like for like.
If your meter is really old then it is likely you will have no choice and have to have one anyway.
Smart Meter Problems
Smart meter problems. Are there any? Well talking to people I know it seems a lot of people don’t really want a smart meter despite the fact it could end up saving them money. Any smart meter pros and cons are simply drowned out by news of problems lately.
So one of the main smart meter problems has been the bad press that they have been getting mainly down to the estimate of the amount of savings to be made by having one.
As I stated above a lot of the savings depend on how you the user interpret them and how you act upon the information the smart meter is giving you.
The other smart meter problems include not getting a great network signal. Most smart meters use mobile networks to relay the information. If the network is poor in the area the smart meter is situated then this can lead to connectivity issues.
There can also be issues with when you change your energy provider. Over half the people who have changed their energy supplier have recorded smart meter problems where the smart meters “Go Dumb”. This is because not all the energy networks are fully up to speed yet and this is likely to be an issue until Smart meters are rolled out fully nationwide.
There also happens to be a rumour going around about these devices leading to cancer due to the signals they send out. I will not comment on that one as it seems a little silly. Onto the Smart meter pros and cons.
Smart Meter Pros And Cons
- Most smart meters cannot be switched to a different provider without there being issues where the meter goes “Dumb”. This could lead to problems if you are frugal and switch energy providers every year (Just like me)
- You are sharing your data with the energy provider. You do have control over what you send but some people are very data-savvy.
- You need to put in some effort to actually see any kind of savings when it comes to saving money.
- Smart meters are still relatively new and as such there can be a whole range of issues and smart meter problems until they are more widely available.
- Once you have a smart meter fitted you cannot go back and change your mind and have an old analogue meter fitted. You will be stuck with a smart meter.
- No more meter readings. One of my meters is behind the Television so it is a bit of a pain to get that reading. No more readings is a great incentive to get a smart meter.
- You receive more accurate bills. There have been a few I have had which I have had to question. No longer as the billing will be way more accurate.
- Prepaid meters. If you have a prepaid meter you can now easily see how much gas or electric you have left and even get a warning when low. Easy to apply a smart meter top up and to see the smart meter top up working.
- No initial payment for a smart meter or installation. This will be included in your future billing.
- Analyse your energy data, Compare against the national average and also this will lead to you being able to spot problems such as a non-functional boiler or a boiler that is not working as well as it should.
Smart Meter Pros And Cons And How To Use Them
So those were the smart meter pros and cons and now I guess it is just down to you to decide whether or not you are going to switch from your old analogue meter to the new smart meters.
Soon everything in our houses will be smart, already we have smart televisions, smart speakers and smart lighting etc so I guess smart meters are the next step in our smart home.
The main thing with me is that after looking at the smart meter pros and cons I feel the pros outweigh the cons and I would rather have a smart meter because I know that I would use it in the correct manner in order to get the most out of it when it comes to being frugal and saving money.
I hope after reading the smart meter pros and cons you can make up your mind as to whether or not you are going to get a smart meter and I would love to hear from some of you as to how you are using them to save money in your household and what your smart meter pros and cons have been.