What is the best smart meter?
The answer to this question is simple – all smart meters do the same thing, and offer the same features. However, the user interface differs from supplier to supplier. It is also important to make clear that your smart meter is something that you will not interact with. Your smart meter will simply replace your traditional electricity and/or gas meter. It is in fact your In-Home Display that you will interact with – the In-Home Display being the battery-powered gadget with a touchscreen that you’ll use to view your energy consumption in real-time.
Further reading: What is an In-Home Display (IHD)?
The smart meter itself will track the amount of energy you consume, and how you consume it. All smart meters do this. The difference in user experience between smart meters is the In-Home Displays that come with them. These devices come in all shapes and size, and some do have a better user-interface than others, with the most advanced (up-to-date) devices boasting colour touchscreens and sound notifications. However, regardless of the bells and whistles of these devices, all of them provide the same functionality:
– They let you view your energy consumption in real-time
– They let you set alerts based on energy use or CO2 output
– They let you track your account and pay bills on-the-go
– They let you view historic energy records going back as far as 12 months
For most people, then, the question of what the best smart meter is isn’t an important one, since they are all pretty much the same. If you are concerned about user experience, we recommend that you contact your energy supplier and ask for a leaflet about their smart meter and In-Home Display, to see what it looks like and how it works, before agreeing to have one installed.
Smart Meters – What’s the big deal?
The British Government has set a very clear target: By 2020, they want smart meters to have been rolled out across the country, with around 53 million households and businesses benefitting from them. The programme to achieve that rollout is underway right now, and it is called the Smart Metering Implementation Programme.
That Programme is led by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and it is being driven by Ofgem (the industry regulator), consumer groups, and the energy industry.
For the customer, it is energy suppliers who will be providing the smart meters. The Smart Metering Implementation Programme makes it very clear that it is the responsibility of suppliers to supply their customers with smart meters. The smart meter will be provided for free to the customer, however there is a catch; the cost of the smart meter will be absorbed into the customer’s energy bills, and spread across a set period.
The total cost of this? £11 billion, says the Department of Energy and Climate Change. We calculate that translates to £6 per customer per year, or 50 pence a month.