The Ultimate Guide to Business Energy Smart Meters
As with anything in business, it is always better to know the facts.
Smart meters have been around for some time now and are a fantastic tool that can help your business save time and money when it comes to paying your energy bills.
As business electricity and gas experts, Love Energy Savings are here to tell you everything you need to know about smart metering and how it can benefit your business.
What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is an upgrade to the traditional energy meter that is found in most homes and businesses. Unlike the ‘dumb’ meter, a smart meter measures your energy consumption and then sends a reading automatically to your energy supplier.
As a result, you would no longer be required to send a meter reading manually, nor will you need to estimate your bill.
Smart meters are available for both gas and electricity, with many suppliers offering installation for free as part of a government mandated Smart Metering Implementation Programme. For example, Opus are offering all our Love Energy Savings customers a free gas smart meter when they switch to any of their gas tariffs, at no cost to you.
For more information on each supplier’s individual policy on smart meter installation please visit our supplier pages.
What do I need to know about smart meter installation?
It is the aim of the Government and The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to install smart meters in every home and small business premises by the end of 2020. Installations have already begun, with 810,900 non-domestic smart meters currently in operation (as of December 2015). By 2020, it is hoped that the number of smart meters installed will amount to over 50 million!
According to the DECC, the Smart Metering Implementation Programme will result in the following benefits:
- It will provide a platform for improved customer service as a result of automated meter readings
- It will aid identification of energy-saving opportunities
- It will trigger energy efficiency improvements that can be made to buildings and equipment
- It will create a platform for future smart grid technology
- It will reduce CO2 emissions in line with the UK’s international obligations
Can a smart meter save me money?
In a nutshell, yes.
By using a smart meter, you will no longer be subjected to estimated billing, which has previously been a major cause of supplier/consumer dispute. By accurately measuring the amount of energy entering your property, you can rest assured that your supplier will only charge you for the energy you have actually consumed.
Admittedly, smart meters themselves won’t directly save your business money, but your interpretation of their data can. Monitoring trends in usage is a great way to become more energy efficient. Seeing the monetary effect of leaving that computer on overnight is more likely to incentivise behavioural change than a poster or a nagging staff member. When you can see the money being wasted, it’s a lot more alarming.
Read our blog post for more top tips on how you can reduce your business’s energy bills.
Can a smart meter help me get the best deal from suppliers?
In order to ensure you are on the best possible tariff for your business electricity and gas, you should be reviewing your usage on a regular basis and keeping an eye on the best prices using our free price comparison engine.
By using a smart meter, you have immediate access to your exact usage figures which will help our experienced energy advisors find the best deal specifically tailored to you and your business.
What will happen to my smart meter if I decide to switch suppliers?
While the rollout is still in its early stages, you should contact your prospective supplier before you switch to ensure that full smart functionality is maintained. As the programme progresses, it is unlikely that you will encounter any major issues, as suppliers will be legally obligated to operate meters in smart mode.
If you do experience any issues, our customer support team will always be on hand to help, liaising with suppliers on your behalf, to ensure your switch is easy and hassle-free.
Are there any downsides?
As with any government initiative there will always be critics.
The project as a whole is expected to cost around £11bn, with the cost being absorbed via an increase in gas and electricity bills. This is always going to cause upset amongst consumers, but we must remember the benefits of smart meter usage in terms of long-term bill reduction. More accurate meter readings, better supplier management of consumption demand and improved consumer awareness of usage will all go some way to cushioning the blow and, in the long-term, prices will go down as a result.
Others argue that the new technology places too much power (pun intended!) into the hands of the suppliers. Due to the supplier’s ability to access the meter remotely, some people are worried that energy companies may switch them to pre-payment mode and introduce variable payment tariffs to charge more during peak usage times, without the customer’s consent. Suppliers will also have the ability to disconnect customers, something which may have the potential to disrupt the switching process.
The rollout will also mean that the number of meter readers employed by the suppliers will reduce and while this may lead to lower energy bills (due to the costs saved) it may also result in a reduction of customer service staff being on hand to help with any issues.
Luckily, our customer service team will always be there if you do have any trouble, so please do contact us or give us a call on 0800 9888 375 if you do experience any supplier issues.
In an age where cybercrime is a very real threat, data protection is often a concern to businesses. As long as your smart meter is installed by a reputable supplier, you should not have any issues. The energy firm should only be able to access the data it needs to calculate your bill, after that it’s up to you to control who gets to see what.
Do I have to get a smart meter?
If you are adamant that a smart meter is not for you, you do have the right to decline installation. Your energy supplier may be in contact when your meter is due for replacement, and while you should accept the replacement (not to would be a safety hazard), you do have the right to insist that it be placed on ‘dumb’ mode meaning that all communications would be switched off.
The bottom line
The national smart meter rollout is now in full flow and the march towards Britain’s ‘smart future’ is getting faster whether we like it or not. While the smart meters are not compulsory, the benefits, both for individuals and the UK as a whole, will result in more effective energy management, ultimately resulting in lower prices and increased efficiency.
If you want to learn more about smart meters, or if you want to ensure you are on the best tariff for your business electricity and gas, the experts at Love Energy Savings are always here to help.