Smart meters look set to become the future in household energy supplies, with all UK homeowners able to claim for a free system to be installed before 2020.
These meters allow for digital readings to be sent directly to your gas and electricity operator, leading to more accurate billing results – and further helping to reduce energy costs.
If you’re still relying on estimated readings and are looking to make the switch, here is our guide to all things smart meters and how they can reduce your utility costs in the long term.
How a smart meters work
Using the latest technology in the national communication network, smart meters can automatically inform your gas and electricity supplier of your energy usage every day of the month.
Their wireless connections eliminate the need for estimated billing schemes which had become popular in recent years, meaning intimidating trips to the cellar and having your readings taken are no more.
The smart meter further allows households to monitor their usage and costs, with in-home displays provided alongside every system installation. By 2020, consumers will also be offered tariff schemes by energy suppliers based on their everyday usage.
Smart meter benefits
Smart meters come with a number of benefits to modern-day consumers, from more accurate utility bills to more manageable supplier switching:
Smart meter readers with zero upfront cost
The smart meter scheme means that before 2020, your energy supplier will be responsible for installing the technology into your home. Although the cost is rolled out over your utility bills, this is no change to your traditional meter.
Using the in-home display screens provided with your smart meter, users are able to visibly view their usage and its cost – with some allowing for future targets helping reduce costs to be set.
The smart meter scheme is set to become the linchpin in a smart energy grid throughout the UK, providing the majority of homeowners with efficient energy supplies that leave a smaller carbon footprint.
Fast-switching between suppliers
Following the easy-access nature of the programme, switching energy suppliers with smart meters is to be made effortless. Meter systems have to be installed with universal features so that they are able to operate with the same functionality between differing utility companies.
However, questions have been raised over the proposed installation scheme, concerning both their compatibility and privacy of personal data.
Due to their free installation costs, utility suppliers will be adding premiums onto their billing allowances to cover the initial system expenses. With this being said, many are debating whether energy costs are in fact being reduced in the long term.
Fears over the privacy of consumer data are also being raised, with the compatibility of smart meter systems meaning that energy companies will hold more personal information than ever.
And with the programme entailing major technological advances, it has not come without its setbacks. Originally proposed to be implemented by 2020, this target schedule is looking more and more unlikely - with less progress than expected made since the scheme began in 2013.