Smart Meters - A Quick Overview
By year 2020, smart meters are planned to replace 53 million of the traditional analogue gas and electricity meters. They have been presented as the next generation meters that will dramatically change our attitudes to energy consumption, give us more control over energy usage, make it easier to switch suppliers and offer a host of other benefits. To this day, however, fewer than 2 million smart meters have been installed, partly due to the harsh critics from some experts and partly due to the fact that there is quite a lot of confusion about the project.
What Exactly are Smart Meters?
Though their name suggests that they include various ‘smart’ functions and features, this is not the case. In fact, they aren’t really ‘smart’. What they do is measure the consumption of gas and electricity. But unlike the analogue ones, they measure energy usage in a digital form and sent the data to your in-house display. In addition to enabling you to monitor your energy consumption, they also sent data to your supplier.
Are They Obligatory and Who Will Pay for Them?
For now, you don’t have to replace your analogue meter with its smart counterpart. If and when you do decide for the next generation meter, however, you won’t be charged for the meter nor its installation. Just like the traditional meters, the smart ones will be paid for by the energy industry although the actual costs are covered by customers through energy bills.
The Benefits of Smart Meters
The UK Government launched the smart meter programme for the many benefits these are claimed to offer over the existing gas and electricity meters. Though they basically only measure energy consumption and enable you to keep track of it via in-house display, they are expected to help us save money on energy bills. This is because they will not only display how much you are using but will also show the effect of particular energy saving measures and consequently, the most effective ways to reduce energy usage and with it, its cost.
Smart meters are also expected to help reduce energy bills by increasing the competition in the energy market. By making it easier for new suppliers to enter the market on the one hand, and facilitating switching between different companies on the other, suppliers will be forced to offer better deals to retain the existing and win new customers.