British Gas Smart Meter Challenge: week one in blogs


Following the launch of British Gas’s Smart Meter Challenge last week, participants in the project have reported on their experiences of using an in-home energy display through blogs featured on UK newspaper the Guardian’s website.

The Smart Meter Challenge publicity campaign, which is designed to increase customer engagement with advanced metering, involves four families that will report back weekly on monitoring their energy consumption and adapting their behaviour to make savings.

Turning off more appliances

British Gas: Manju in her kitchen with a smart meterLondon-based Manju Parmar said in her Week One blog:  “I’ve been getting to know my smart energy monitor over the first week, and it has made me really aware of what appliances around the house are on at any one time. Armed with this information, I spent a lot of time switching off lights, plugs and the TV when I wasn’t using it. I was even more conscious of the kettle, making sure I wasn’t overfilling it and just putting enough water in to make one cup of tea.

“Currently I’m not looking at the smart energy monitor throughout the day: I look at it just before midnight to see how I’ve got on that day.

Ms Parmar adds: “The change in how much energy we use at different times was brought home to me at the weekend because we had the family round. The house was full, I was cooking and there were more lights on because more rooms were being used.

“I had noticed in the week that I was spending around £2 a day for gas and electricity, but it was nearer £5 at the weekend – more than double!”

Young family tries to cut costs

British Gas: Dariusz Bogal with a laptop in his living roomOne of the other participants Dariusz Bogal, who lives with his wife and 18-month-old daughter, noted in his blog that: “I’ve been really enjoying getting to know the smart energy monitor.

“I really like the function that tells you how much electricity per hour you’re using. We do look at the amount of money we’re using but seeing the red, amber and green lights is a very good and quick way of learning about our usage. My wife and I have been concentrating on trying to keep the monitor green.

He adds: “We use around £1.21 per day. We do have days when we use less – around £1 – and we can see what days we use more. At the moment, it’s when we’re doing a lot of cooking. So we’ve been thinking how to reduce usage there: are we using the right pans? Are we putting on the oven a long time before we need to put the food in to cook?”

What is the challenge?

Every week, each of the four households will record their experiences. The challenges aim to test:
  • attitudes towards energy use and how people think about energy consumption in the context of other activities and spend
  • where and how people use gas and electricity, and how having smart meters helps them have more control
  • the impact of a ‘digital detox’; switching off all entertainment and communication devices, to see what difference this makes on energy use and family life.

British Gas hopes to generate consumer interest by sharing updates on the challenge on its website and on Twitter under #smartmeterchallenge.