There are new companies and products popping up in the latest craze to sell you a smart meter or energy monitor service but do you need to splash the cash or simply get one for free ? We investigate.
What is a smart meter
Having a smart meter in your home allows all your data for your electricity to be transmitted back to your utility company so you can read and analyse your consumption in real time. It also allows you to undertake more in-depth analysis and produce various graphs and tables to perhaps you can investigate how much electric energy your home or business is using and make adjustments to reduce these.
There are also various software tools that allow you to view the data on your own computer or online if you don’t want to use your utility company’s website application.
Depending on who you go with depends on whether you need a new meter installed or simply a device that clips onto your existing meter. Either way the data is transmitted electronically to wherever it has to go and you never have to have your meter read manually again. That means all the data received by your utility company is up to date and your bills are 100% accurate.
What is an energy monitor
An energy monitor is slightly different in that it’s a gadget that’s put into your home and reads your consumption to a device that is generally placed onto a wall so you can see at a glance what electricity you are using. And that’s the major difference between the two applications because an energy monitor doesn’t send you data anywhere else for you to undertake post analysis.
Should you buy or get one for free ?
Both systems are available for free from the various energy providers in the UK. Certainly most will provide you with a free energy monitor which starts you off looking at your consumption and many estimate that just by having this could save around 10% off your bill each year. British Gas has termed their device energy smart which also allows you to input your readings on their website into your online account. All the major 6 energy companies have this service.
The UK government also has various targets so that all homes will need to have a smart meter installed over the coming years and the energy companies are providing these services for free (although they will obviously need to recoup that cost through higher bills because it’s not funded by the government).
A couple of utility companies in the UK already provide free smart meters under some of their tariffs and these are opus energy and first utility (who have also partnered with google power so you can see your consumption data online via your google account). So you could try one of these or wait until the UK wide roll out of the smart meters that every home will get.
You can also jump ahead of the queue and buy your own smart meter that clips onto your existing meter you have. A new company called alertme offer such devices from £69 so the choice is yours when you can get free smart meters and energy monitors in any case.