The most common benefits of smart meters for UK consumers

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With the rollout of smart meters gaining momentum across the UK as part of the government’s efforts to modernise energy networks and billing systems, what benefits are consumers realising from the smart devices?

A new guide released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) highlights the most common benefits recorded by consumers from the 25.2 million smart meters deployed across the UK as of June 2021.

Energy monitoring and management, and accurate accounting and energy billing are the most common benefits of smart meters amongst some 19 public sector organisations surveyed by the BEIS.

By having access to real-time data regarding energy consumption, consumers are able to consume and budget electricity accordingly.

Solihull Council’s Schools Energy Manager, said: “Smart meters have had a huge impact on how we measure, monitor and record consumption, cost, and CO2 emissions in our schools. We’re helping schools to use smart meters to their full potential, to identify high consumption and eliminate waste.

“There are various benefits of smart meters, these include using the true consumption for billing purposes, instead of estimated readings. This means bills are accurate and schools can see more clearly how they are using energy and take steps to minimise waste where possible.”

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council installed smart meters in all of their local schools.

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Bedford Borough Council said data visibility in enabling the council to improve energy savings in schools is a significant benefit. Data from smart meters are being used to optimise heating and lighting systems in Bedford, according to the BEIS statement. LED upgrades in June 2017 showed an average annual saving of 50% (£15,000/$20,000 per year) in 2018 and 2019.

West Berkshire Council is using smart meter data to compare historical energy usage patterns with current trends. For instance, smart meter data showed a 10-fold increase in consumption compared with the previous year, resulting in the council implementing more energy efficiency measures.

Using data from smart meters, utilities are also able to accurately bill customers and avoid an increase in non-revenue electricity.

In addition, smart metering is helping utilities to avoid inaccurate estimates in energy demand on their networks, which can lead to pressure on the network, increased costs, and the use of more fossil fuels to meet demand.

Utilities are using smart meters to know how much their consumers consume and in turn generate or buy electricity accordingly, according to the BEIS’s guide.

Reported smart meter benefits – BEIS

According to the BEIS, smart meters make the “energy system cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient,” and enable consumers to play a role in the energy transition by optimising onsite energy assets including solar and energy storage.

Bedford Borough Council is currently leveraging smart meters to enhance the operation of 8 solar arrays of which 3 are installed at schools.

Croydon Health Services says it is now able to plan and budget its energy expenses through consumption forecasts developed using data from smart meters.

The BEIS says smart meters are enabling the energy transition through the use of energy flexibility, a development that will help the UK achieve its 2050 net-zero goal.

The guide states that energy companies are now able to use cases such as demand response and Time of Use energy pricing to enhance customer offerings while maintaining grid reliability. Moreover, utilities are able to respond to outages quickly, identify inefficiencies and equipment faults and to increase environmental awareness.

According to the Data Communications Company, which is responsible for the development and operation of a network providing connectivity to smart meters in the UK: “Thanks to the continued efforts of the whole sector, Britain’s smart meter network continues to grow fast, and now securely connects 16 million meters nationwide.

“Millions of homes are linked to the network, which is helping transform our country’s energy system by digitising it – ready for the low-carbon economy we need if we’re to achieve our Net Zero target. Smart meters connected to the DCC network are helping to avoid 462,011 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.”

 Find out more about BEIS’ smart meters guide.