Smart meters are said to be the future of the utility industry – but how will this new technology make such a difference and how can having one installed benefit your business?
What is a smart meter?
Smart meters are similar to traditional meters in regards to the way they measure the amount of energy you use. However, unlike normal energy meters, smart meters remotely send real-time information about your energy consumption to your supplier. This means you will no longer need to provide meter readings, but won’t run the risk of your consumption being estimated.
Smart meters work by sending communications to your supplier via a SIM, mobile internet connection or WiFi.
Why have smart meters been introduced?
The smart meter rollout across the UK is part of a government initiative to decrease carbon emissions, by reducing the level of energy consumed by homes and businesses nationwide. The government’s aim is to have successfully offered smart meters to all homes and businesses within the UK by 2020.
What are the benefits of having a smart meter?
According to regulator Ofgem, smart meters hold a multitude of benefits, for the consumer, supplier and the environment.
Running a business can often be an extremely time consuming job, as a result, tasks such as providing your supplier with an up-to-date meter reading can often be forgotten. Consequently, suppliers will estimate your energy consumption, which unfortunately often leads to you over or under paying for your energy. Overpaying is obviously an unwanted inconvenience; however, underpaying can be equally financially disastrous for your business, as energy suppliers will eventually notice their mistake and bill you for the money you owe. Smart meters eliminate the issue of inaccurate billing, as your supplier will receive your energy usage information directly from your meter. This will ensure that you are only charged for the energy you actually use.
Additionally, the information that your smart meter produces will allow you to review what energy you consume and take active steps to lower it. This will hopefully reduce the overall amount of energy wasted, as according to the Carbon Trust, businesses waste 20% of the energy they buy.
For customers that generate their own energy (from alternative energy sources) a smart meter will hopefully be able to help them keep track of what energy they are producing and how much they are exporting back to the grid. It will also help ensure they receive the correct payments from the feed-in tariff scheme.
Digital meter readings should also mean that suppliers will require fewer resources for customer services and to read meters. This reduction could potentially lead to a decrease in energy costs for the customer. Another way suppliers may be able to reduce the cost of energy is by only purchasing the amount they actually need to adequately supply their customers. Currently suppliers do not know how much energy customers need; however, smart meters can provide them with precise usage information, which will enable them to more accurately forecast what energy customers will require.
The cost reductions seen by the supplier and the extra information that both the supplier and customer have access to could lead to the introduction of new tariffs, that better suit the needs of your business.
The customer service provided by the supplier should also improve with the introduction of smart meters, as it will be easier for suppliers to monitor their customers’ energy supply. So should be able to spot any problems earlier and deal with them quickly and efficiently.
Concerns surrounding smart meters
There have been some concerns raised about smart meters, regarding privacy and the ability to switch supplier in the future. Some consumers are concerned that if the additional information, provided by the smart meters, is not looked after appropriately or falls into the wrong hands, there could be negative repercussions for the consumer. However, the government has assured that safeguards have been implemented to ensure that your privacy is protected and you will have control over your information and how it is used.
The other concern was in relation to switching, and how complicated it may become once your smart meter has been installed. Currently, smart meters across suppliers do not have identical specifications, this means that switching – and how simple the process is – will depend on who your current supplier is and which supplier you want to switch to. You may find you can simply switch, as the new supplier has the capability to accept your smart meter. However, you may need to have a new meter installed or in some cases revert back to having a normal meter.
As part of the smart meter initiative specifications have been agreed to ensure that in the future all meters will be compatible with each supplier’s communication requirements. This means that if you switch supplier, slight adjustments may need to be made by your new supplier, but overall the switching process will be more straightforward.
How to get a smart meter
Smart meters are usually free, however, each supplier may have different terms and conditions regarding installation. Contact your current supplier to find out more or to request a smart meter.
If you require any further information about smart meters, or would like to source a cheaper deal for your utilities, contact Watt HQ on 0843 9033201 or at www.watt.co.uk.
At Watt HQ we have a team of utility specialists that have saved businesses over £120 million since 2000 we know the ins and outs of every supplier, tariff and contract out there. Our switching process is straightforward and hassle free; with a few key pieces of information we can handle the entire process for you, and as we work alongside a large number of the UK’s leading suppliers we can offer the most current tariffs, at the best rates, that are perfectly suited to your business’s needs.
Author: Elizabeth Ireland
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