Energy prices are at record highs right now, and whilst smart meters cannot solve that problem, they are a part of the longer-term solution of a flexible, cleaner electricity grid. With many of us keeping an eye on how much energy we’re using, we explore whether getting a smart meter can help you save energy and money on your bills.
Smart meters are self-reading electricity and gas meters. They automatically send regular, accurate readings to your energy supplier – and they can also connect with an in-home display (IHD) that will tell you exactly how much energy you’re using.
As Citizen’s Advice make clear, simply having a smart meter installed won’t automatically save you money. However, together with an in-home display, a smart meter will make it easier to be proactive about how you use energy so that you can make savings.
Here are just three ways having a smart meter can help you manage your energy:
1. Understand how much energy you use
Rather than waiting until you receive a monthly statement to see how many units of gas and electricity you’ve used, the IHD you’ll get with your smart meter can show you exactly how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence.
You can also use the IHD to set up budgets for the day, week or month, so that you’ll always know how much you’re spending. There’s a lot that your IHD can tell you about your energy usage. Read our simple guide to find out how to use one.
2. See the impact of changes you make
Once you have a good understanding of how much energy you use normally, you’ll be able to track how any changes you make around the house affect your costs.
For example, you could follow a new energy-saving action for a week or month, then use your IHD to look back at your cumulative energy usage to see what difference it’s made. This could be something like turning the thermostat down one degree; using the tumble dryer less frequently; just boiling the water you need in the kettle; cutting down your showers by one minute; or turning computers, TVs etc. off at the plug rather than leaving on standby.
Read our blog for more ideas about how to save energy at home
3. Get accurate bills
Because smart meters automatically send regular meter readings to your energy supplier, your bill should always be based on actual rather than estimated readings. This means that you’ll only pay for the energy you’ve used. If you’re on a fixed Direct Debit, your supplier will also be able to easily tell if your payments are set too high or too low.
Finally, having a smart meter could give you access to a wider range of energy tariffs, including smart tariffs that may offer lower energy rates at certain times of the day. Good Energy doesn’t currently have new smart tariffs available, but you can check our products page regularly to see what’s on offer.
What our customers say
We’ve now installed smart meters for tens of thousands of Good Energy customers. Here’s how having a smart meter has helped a few of them save energy:
Having a smart meter with the display in a highly visible place makes me aware of how much energy I am using at any given time. I have turned my thermostat down to 19oC in the daytime and 20oC in the cool evenings. I also try to optimise use of my oven, washing machine and other devices. I already have low energy bulbs installed throughout the house.Diane from Richmond
Helps me keep track of my consumption, it’s made me use tumble dryer during lower rate times and set electric underfloor heating to a more specific timer.Andrew from Brighton
I always thought my gas fire was cheaper to run in just one room than turn on the gas central heating, but that’s not true the central heating is cheaper. Which is good that I can change that now.Jeanette from Hampshire
The bigger picture
If you already think your home is energy efficient and that having a smart meter won’t make much difference to you, there are other reasons to consider getting one.
For example, the more buildings fitted with smart meters, the more accurate a picture energy suppliers and the national grid will have about how much energy the country actually uses. This will help match energy supply and demand more closely, and make the grid more efficient. A more efficient grid will be better able to handle an increasing amount of energy from renewable sources, which is needed to combat the climate crisis.
Read more about the environmental benefits of smart meters.
How to get a smart meter
We’re installing smart meters free for our customers, in partnership with specialist meter installers, SMS. If you’d like to get one, you can register your interest. SMS may also be in touch separately when they have available appointments to install smart meters in your area.
Worried about energy bills?
If you’re finding it difficult to afford your energy, contact your energy supplier as they may be able to help set up a payment plan. You can also get independent advice about your energy bills from Citizens Advice.
We also understand that it will take more than smart meters and energy saving tips to support the growing numbers of people who are unable to afford their energy. We have called on the government and the energy regulator Ofgem to do more to make sure energy is affordable. Read our view of what the government can do about the rising cost of energy.