The smart meter upgrade is a programme set out by the UK Government as a way of helping consumers gain more control over their energy use and spending. It also aims to help meet environmental targets and security of energy supply in the future and we have been one of the first households in the country to make that change.
The programme, which will see smart meters installed in all homes and businesses in Britain by 2020, represents the biggest energy revolution since the 70s, when the entire country switched from coal to natural gas central heating.British Gas is leading the way in upgrading customers to smart meters for free and helping them enjoy smart meter benefits as soon as possible. Watch the ‘what are smart meters” video here:
I changed our British Gas tariff last year and we have effectively been using a “pay as you go” service by submitting meter readers each month using their smartphone app. The Smart Meter means I no longer have to remember to do this.
What are smart meters?
Smart meters replace current gas and electricity meters, and with the addition of a stylish smart energy monitor (that can easily be placed in a kitchen or dining room) you will be able to see how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence.
Readings from your smart meters are automatically sent to British Gas, which means you don’t have to submit your meter readings – or wait for a meter reader to come around – and still receive an accurate bill. British Gas uses the consumption readings to provide you with a full array of clever insights into your consumption, including personalised energy efficiency advice. Read more on britishgas.co.uk/smart
What are the key benefits of smart meters?
- Control and choice: the smart energy monitor shows gas and electricity usage in
pounds and pence, helping you identify energy waste and set a target budget.
- Personalised energy guide: we transform the energy consumption readings we get from your smart meter into a smart energy report to help you understand your energy, including usage over time and cost breakdown, household comparison, and tailored guidance on how to save energy and money.
- Say goodbye to estimated bills: bills are accurate as they are based on actual consumption, which means an end to estimated bills and bill-surprises. Meter readings are automatically recorded by smart meters and sent to British Gas.
We had one of the clip on energy meters prior to installing the smart meter and although it was great for seeing electrify usage, it didn’t give us a monetary usage or any idea of the amount of gas we were using.
We had our Smart Meter installed in August and they swapped over the gas and electricity meters within two hours. The installation itself was pain free, but we did have a problem that would not have been picked up otherwise – our duel fuel oven’s safety shut off valve wasn’t working, so the British Gas engineer labelled it up, called Transco and we were not allowed to use it.
We were not impressed at the time, but in hindsight and with small children in the house we were lucky it was picked up. Thankfully I have all our appliances covered by insurance so it was fixed fairly quickly at no extra expense.
The Smart Energy Monitor sits in our lounge, by the computer, and makes for fascinating viewing. A traffic light system shows you how much energy you are using at a glance, and I have to admit we got a bit complacent over the summer as our energy usage was very low. Now the nights are drawing in and the tumble dryer has come out of hibernation it is a real shocker just seeing how much electricity we actually use.
Over the summer we set the Smart Energy Monitor to show us our Electricity usage but as soon as the heating goes on we will set it to show both gas and electric. It is really easy to understand and it is great to know exactly how much our energy is costing.
The unit itself is touch screen and you can set yourselves an energy budget by entering your type of property, number of rooms and number of occupants. You can then opt for “Slightly Challenging”, “Challenging” or “Very Challenging”. The budget is then saved and will automatically reflect seasonal weather changes for summer and winter usage.
We have chosen “Challenging” and set our Monitor to alert us when we exceed our energy budget for that day. It gives us a gentle alarm and mostly goes off around 10pm in the evening. On a couple of occasions it has gone off around 6pm when we have used the dishwasher / tumble dryer / washing machine more than once.
The Energy Monitor can also be used for contacting British Gas, switching tariffs and even comes with Energy Tips, although I did find these a bit basic e.g. Hang washing outside if it is a dry day and not use the Tumble dryer or ensure you use the right size pan for cooking, but if you are new to running your own home then they are useful.
We have had the Smart Meter since August and so far so good. It has made us and the kids more aware of the energy we are using. The TV now gets switched off if no-one is watching (Kian had a habit of having it on and playing xbox at the same time), lights are switched off when we are not in that room and phone chargers unplugged when not in use.
I am looking forward to seeing how we manage over the winter period.
British Gas is in the process of contacting existing customers to schedule their free upgrade, but anyone can register their interest through an online form by clicking here.
They also have a partnership running with blogging network Mumsnet, in which they have built a microsite and upgraded the homes of 5 community members to smart meters to document their journey. You can read more about their journey here.