Thursday, 12 January 2012

Time to get smart with our utilities

I’ve a sister that works for the gas board, do you want to meet her?

That was always one of my favourite daft jokes, but perhaps it now needs updating to:

I’ve a sister that works for the gas board, I only let the smart meet her.

Or maybe, just maybe, I should drop it all together.

Anyway, back to why I’m writing this post.

Since being a homeowner - over ten years now - I’ve always been very pedantic with my utility suppliers.  Very anal about getting the best annual deal for my money that I possibly could.

However in recent times I’ve actually concerned myself more with my actual usage, and it seems the government would like us all to get familiar with the amount of electricity and gas we are using as we are using it.

Last winter I treated myself to an Owl micro-home electricity monitor, which was about £25.  I was mindful of rising electricity costs, and I actually wanted to know how much – and where – I was using electrical juice.

It seemed I wasn’t the only one, and I found a few others willing to share electricity saving ideas.  My personal favourite was changing my fish tank from tropical to cold water.  Which was a frugal move, not tight at all.

But now, with the government mandating that all homes will have to install smart meters by 2019, there will be millions able to share real time data and ideas.

British Gas is placing itself at the forefront of this initiative, and has already installed over 400,000 smart meters free of charge across homes and businesses in the UK.

What does a smart meter do?

Essentially it details, in pounds and pence (or in energy units if you prefer) how much energy, gas and electricity, you are using.

If you switch your cooker on the meter will immediately show you how much energy it is using.

Data is also stored, and these meters have useful menus to give you things like your day’s energy consumption.

It also means accurate billing rather than estimates, as these meters automatically send information back to directly British Gas.

How will this help me save money?

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that you could save as much as 10% on your bills.

By knowing how much energy things use, rather than being ignorant to their consumption levels, you are better placed to decide if something is worthy of being on.

You may find some electrical units use as much energy, thus as much money, in standby as when they are operating, digiboxes sometimes fall into this category.

I don’t carry my unit in my pocket, but have it in view casting it a glance every once in a while.  I know when my son has left the – rather expensive – spotlights on in the bathroom for example.

It also helps trouble shoot, so if the unit is recording higher than you think is should be, you can find the unit pulling more power than it was perhaps designed to.

Some wasteful habits I haven’t changed, but at least I am aware of how much they are costing me.

Don’t just take my word for it

This is a sponsored post on behalf of British Gas, who you can also follow on Facebook.