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article imageGovernment-backed smart meters put GB homeowners in control

By Sam Wright     Oct 16, 2014 in Environment
Starting next year, the Government’s smart meter programme will be rolling out smart gas and electricity meters to all GB homes and small businesses before 2020.
The smart energy scheme is the first step towards a smart gas and electricity grid, which will result in an efficient, secure and low-carbon way of providing energy to Great Britain.
A recent report on smart energy grids in the United States has found that the deployment has improved reliability, increased consumer involvement in electricity management, and provided new streams of information on the way gas and electricity is used by the public.
Smart energy systems give energy suppliers the capacity to locate and isolate faults in the grid, resulting in a more reliable supply and fewer power outages. The systems also make it possible to optimise voltage for more efficient power use, and to monitor grid health to allow for more effective maintenance.
Smart meters are set to give households more control over their day-to-day energy usage, offering greater insight into how much energy is being used at any given time. The ability to check the energy cost, in pounds and pence, of boiling the kettle or doing the laundry is likely to make consumers more conscious of their usage, resulting in lower costs and reduced carbon footprints.
The smart meter programme will also make it easier for consumers to switch energy suppliers, which could save money for less cost-aware households in the long run.
The body charged with leading public engagement and understanding of smart meters, Smart Energy GB, says smart meters will not be storing any personal data unrelated to energy consumption and tariff type. By default, smart meters will only share monthly readings with consumers’ energy suppliers, although households will have the option to send more updates to their supplier in order to take advantage of time-of-use tariffs. Consumers will also have the option to share their energy data with third parties, such as price comparison sites.
While some consumers may be concerned that their smart meter will store bank details or other personal data they would rather not share, this is not the case. By raising awareness and understanding about how smart meters operate, Smart Energy GB hopes to quash these fears. While smart technology has been criticised for the potential threat it poses to privacy, smart meters give consumers control over the data they share.
Consumers hoping to get a smart meter sooner rather than later are advised to contact their energy supplier and request installation information.
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