When will customers get smart meters?
The Government has mandated that all homes in the country will have smart meters (one for electricity and one for gas) installed by the end of 2019. The Government has stipulated that mass roll-out must begin by 2014.
The whole nation will adopt smart metering in the next few years but some suppliers have already started to upgrade their customers.
British Gas is rolling out smart meters now, because, Bryan Halliday, Smart Homes Commercial Director, says: “we are delivering the benefits of smart metering technology to our customers today, offering them a way to better understand their energy usage and make more informed, cost-saving decisions.”
Like many other appliances meters do get old. The lifetime of a meter is expected to be around 10 years, so if your meter is approaching its “retirement” age you are the perfect candidate for a smart meter upgrade.
British Gas have installed over 500,000 smart meters across homes and businesses in the UK.
Head of Consumer Strategy Fiona McDonagh explains: “the smart journey for British Gas customers starts when one of our agents gets in touch to arrange an appointment at a suitable time for the meter exchange to take place. We like to ensure that our customers know what to expect so we prompt them to read our Smart Meter Customer Charter before the installation”.
How is a smart meter installed?
You will need to be at home for the duration of the appointment. The process is simple and usually doesn’t take longer than an hour and a half. Engineers are trained to be quick and cause minimal disruption to your home and power supply.
1. An engineer arrives at your home on the date you arranged on the phone with your supplier.
2.Your electricity is turned off for approximately 30 minutes while the meters are exchanged.
3. When exchanging gas meters your gas supply will be turned off for up to an hour to give time to the system to be purified.
4. When the engineer has installed your meters the gas and electricity supply is turned back on and some testing takes place.
With a highly trained team of over 1,200 Smart Energy Experts, British Gas is dedicated to ensuring customers’ smart meters are installed quickly and safely. “We recognise that our customers need to be fully informed on the benefits of having a smart meter and how to make the most of the smart energy monitor that comes with it.
So, during the installation visit we take the time to talk to our customers, explain how to be energy efficient in their homes and we show them how to use their smart energy monitor to track consumption and keep on top of their bills. We also leave a brochure and a quick user guide they can refer to after we’ve left” says John Craig, Director of Metering Operations.
Listen to how these customers used their smart meter to save money on their energy bills:
What happens to my data?
Customers across the country will benefit from smart meters above and beyond just getting an accurate bill. Readings from your smart meters are automatically sent to your energy supplier and they represent a valuable source of information that your supplier can in turn use to provide you with a full array of clever insights such as energy efficiency tips to help you save even more money. Data information from a meter also helps to check it is working effectively and safely so that any faults can be diagnosed and corrected.
Home energy management provider AlertMe has recently agreed to provide a Personalised Energy Efficiency Advice Service to British Gas customers in the UK who have new smart meters. The free service is being tested with up to 10,000 homes during the summer and rolled out widely from the autumn. Via the partnership, data from smart meters will be translated into personalised insights for British Gas customers that could help them to save millions on energy bills every year.
Data security is critical for the success of smart meters which is why energy suppliers have made security a priority. British Gas takes it very seriously: “Smart meters use an encryption which is twice as strong as the encryption used by Internet banking.
Smart meters record readings for each half hour of the day and these are sent to us once every 24 hours. If a customer prefers us to collect fewer readings they can just let us know and we will make sure that we only collect one reading to cover a 24 hour period.”
Something you might not know about smart meters…
Whereas traditional meters only record consumption, smart meters will soon be capable of recording electricity generated in your home.
So, if you decide to embrace renewable energies, such as solar panels or wind turbines to generate your energy at home, smart meters give you the opportunity to measure how much you produce, how much you use of you own energy and the surplus that you can sell back to the grid.
And don’t forget that, should you wish to get an electric car, smart meters will make it is easy for you to be on the most convenient tariff so that charging is optimised: time of use tariffs help you charge a vehicle in the most convenient way.