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How to benefit from smart meters?

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Just4Fun

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We have just had new smart meters fitted. The "old" meters now removed had not been there more than a few years, and they were already capable of remote meter readings. I'm not sure how the new neters are better.

One of the meters is in a small "cottage" we have 150 m from the main house, down by the lake. We have never used the cottage and the old meter had never registered as much as 1 kWh. So fitting that was a complete waste.

Anyway, looking around on the internet I found some people are connecting these meters to their home computer network and getting their real-time electricity usage data to use it in some sort of monitoring/control systems. It sounds geeky enough that I might find it interesting to write software for that, but I am struggling to think what the benefit might be. Any suggestions? We are not on any variable rate tariff or anything like that, so that is one possibility that does not currently (pardon the pun) apply to us, and beyond that I am stuck for ideas.
 

Alpha-Dave

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I don’t have a smart meter as the downsides seem worse than the upsides, at least for the first few generations; my utility company sent literature that proudly said that 80% of their customers were happy with their smart meter. That meant that 20% were not. That seems crazy to me, this is something you have forever, not a restaurant that you can choose a different one.

Anyway, the best use-case is that there are many things in your house that you think you know the power consumption of due to ratings, specs etc. that might not be accurate or might have changed over time. The best example of this is my in-laws replaced their 20 year old chest freezer with a new one, and knocked ~1/3 off their electricity bill! So there is a use-case for smart meters, but it’s not worth it for most people.
 

Ollie78

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Sounds like a fun diversion and it might be interesting to track your precise usage.

Other than that, there is no benefit to the customer that I can see.
My theory is that they want smart meters everywhere to precisely monitor usage in order to try and get better deals on wholesale gas and electricity to maximise profit.

Ollie
 

eribaMotters

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Smart meters do not mean you use less energy, it's just that they [should] allow you to monitor how you are using it and make adjustments if you can or want to.
The present problem is whilst the readings the meters to the supplier is correct, the same information they send to your small room display cannot be used as the software does not match up and the resultant costs you see are incorrect. A fix has been in development for over a year on this but I believe new meters are going to be needed. ll this is according to EDF my supplier.

Colin
 

RichardG

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Apart from giving you an insight into how you are using your electricity and what your background usage is, they don't offer much really for a normal household. However, they are a stepping stone for the future. Firstly they can monitor how much electricity you are exporting and secondly they can measure your energy use and bill you at 30 minute intervals. A few innovative companies, e.g. Octopus Energy, offer an agile tariff which changes the price you pay for electricity every 30 minutes, so at say 5.30pm you may be paying 40p kWh whilst at 2am you may be paying 2p kWh. Of course at the moment you think so what, well if you have solar and or a rechargeable battery you can shift your energy usage and significantly reduce your costs. At the moment this technology is relatively expensive but in 5 years time it will start becoming more common.

I've taken the plunge and will soon have 8kW of solar panels and a 13.5kW battery, this will allow be to operate mostly off grid for 8 months of the year and run the house on 5p per kWh the rest if the year. I'll be able to sell the surplus solar energy during the summer back to the grid which will pay for winter uagage plus a small profit. Of course the figures will change and every household is different. It is difficult to say how much you'll save and how long it will take to repay as you need to do the calculations for your household. You also have to factor in the peace of mind of being complete immune to power cuts.
 

Sachakins

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I had both gAs and electric "smart" meters installed about 30 months back. They are SMET2 meters so should have been fine. I opted for them as got great tariff deal.

Nothing but trouble. In house display replaced three times, still couldn't get them to read correctly. To this day it cannot display gas usage.

Had so many problems with Shell who installed them losing communication with the readings. Was constantly asked to supply online readings, tel readings etc, bills all over the place.

Switched suppliers twice since, still can't get gas reading on in house display. Actually given up on it ever been right, it now languishing at the back of the junk drawer.

Smart meters purely there for benefit of companies, to get multiple readings. Smart meters absolutely of no use or benefit to the user.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Smart meters do not mean you use less energy, it's just that they [should] allow you to monitor how you are using it and make adjustments if you can or want to.
I complained to the ASA about the smart meter adverts being misleading, I was told that they wouldn't reply to complaints individually as they had had so many. They have now at least amended the ads to say action by user required (or something like that).
 

okeydokey

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I said no to smart meters countless times then (British Gas?) came up with an idea they pay me £50 to have smart meters installed - ok so I took the money and they installed a smart electric meter but couldn't do the gas meter as they couldn't "see" each other/connect for reading. So I have small gadget that if I bother to charge shows me how much electric I am using or have used - they still have to read the meters (or I do it for them) until they install another Mark 2? 3? meter and thats not happening soon as they have targets to install new not come back to finish the job. As previous poster said no point at all for the consumer totally contrary to the misleading adverts
 

Phil Pascoe

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My theory is that they want smart meters everywhere to precisely monitor usage in order to try and get better deals on wholesale gas and electricity to maximise profit.
I suspect the ultimate aim is infinitely variable charging (like Octopus Agile now). The Country could do without a major power station if they could get rid of the breakfast time and teatime spikes in usage.
 

RichardG

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Smart meters do not mean you use less energy, it's just that they [should] allow you to monitor how you are using it and make adjustments if you can or want to.
The present problem is whilst the readings the meters to the supplier is correct, the same information they send to your small room display cannot be used as the software does not match up and the resultant costs you see are incorrect. A fix has been in development for over a year on this but I believe new meters are going to be needed. ll this is according to EDF my supplier.

Colin
That's more down to your energy supplier than the smart meter. I'm with Octopus and after contacting support the correct tariff / cost is downloaded to the meter, took less than 2 hours for me. The issue is that many suppliers don't download the updated tariff when it changes, so the meter and hence the IHD (in home display) is out of date. However, the IHD is a bit of a novelty really, the benefit comes from looking at your history of usage with a 30 minute granularity, you can do this via the IHD but it's much more useful on a PC/iPad. You may well have one of the first generation meters which are problematic, the newer smets2 meters are OK. From my experience the only Energy supplier who had got their head around the technology is Octopus.

With the data you can then do lots of what ifs and compare the various tariffs to see if they work for you. This includes economy 7 type tariffs, Electric Vehicle tariff, Agile tariffs etc.

If you're really adventurous you can link the real time usage with your home. So you can control the larger energy guzzlers. For most the Immersion heater is the the only one worth controlling (unless you have a battery and an electric car). In my case if the solar is exceeding the house usage, exporting the maximum I'm allowed to the grid, battery is charging then any surplus gets dumped into the hot water tank. Eventually that will go into the car if it's at home.
 

RichardG

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We have just had new smart meters fitted. The "old" meters now removed had not been there more than a few years, and they were already capable of remote meter readings. I'm not sure how the new neters are better.

One of the meters is in a small "cottage" we have 150 m from the main house, down by the lake. We have never used the cottage and the old meter had never registered as much as 1 kWh. So fitting that was a complete waste.

Anyway, looking around on the internet I found some people are connecting these meters to their home computer network and getting their real-time electricity usage data to use it in some sort of monitoring/control systems. It sounds geeky enough that I might find it interesting to write software for that, but I am struggling to think what the benefit might be. Any suggestions? We are not on any variable rate tariff or anything like that, so that is one possibility that does not currently (pardon the pun) apply to us, and beyond that I am stuck for ideas.
Sign up with Octopus if you really want to play, they have an API....
 

Fitzroy

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Interesting thread. I too have resisted the push for one of these devices, it seems there is lots of negative experience bubbling up which aligns with my expectation. I can see that if options like the Octopus Agile were more common then with a meter it would enable me to save money by adjusting my usage pattern (ie e7 on steroids). I doubt however I would play the game as I've too many other things to be dealing with. Ideally the system is linked to a smart home /system which would automatically utilise your periodic appliances at the best time, or charge a house battery with cheap electricity to use later. Plenty of promise but still seems far enough away that I'll resist for a while longer yet.
 

pe2dave

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The present problem is whilst the readings the meters to the supplier is correct, the same information they send to your small room display cannot be used as the software does not match up and the resultant costs you see are incorrect. A fix has been in development for over a year on this but I believe new meters are going to be needed. ll this is according to EDF my supplier.

Colin
Is this the 'second generation' meters that have been in the offing for ages? Or yet another revision?
 

Just4Fun

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I don't know that they supply Finland. :)
Even my longest extension lead might struggle to reach from the UK ;)
It would of course be nice to have an API to work against. I don't yet know if there is such a thing here but it is no great problem if not. The info I have found on the net suggests having to parse some regularly posted data packets, which should be easy enough. I have done lots of that sort of thing for work.

I am aware that not everyone wants a smart meter. I don't have any opinion about that and I don't even know if we had a choice about getting them. Having got them though I am curious if I can do anything with them.

I have in the past created Arduino-based controllers to switch on devices such as fridge & freezer based on the current wholesale electricity price. That was when we were on a tariff that marked up the wholesale price by a %age. Now we are on a fixed-rate tariff so that is not needed. It probably didn't repay the time I put into developing it anyway, it was just an interesting project.
 

D_W

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I suspect the ultimate aim is infinitely variable charging (like Octopus Agile now). The Country could do without a major power station if they could get rid of the breakfast time and teatime spikes in usage.
The above is the aim, to charge exorbitant peak rates later and modify behavior. We have flat rates and smart meters now, no option to not get them. What I don't like us they have no visual indication of current use whereas the old analog meter had a large spinning disc that was easy to discern.

The second purpose is to get use patterns from individuals as well as groups and use those for planning. i get constant emails about unusual use patterns because my wife runs the oven and dryer at night at the same time.
 

Spectric

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A fix has been in development for over a year on this but I believe new meters are going to be needed.
Don't hold your breath, look what a mess track and trace has been and I believe this is the result of skills shortages across most industries, back in the nineties we had a very capable software development sector but like everything else it was cheaper elsewhere so we waved it goodbye.

The one big issue we always end up with is compatability, we just cannot readily adopt a standard so that all meters use the same protocols, we are seeing it in the EV charging sector where there are multiple systems and connectors and look back in history and you can find many examples.

Smart meters are like smart phones, they are not smart in the absolute sense but in relation to there owners.
 

hog&bodge

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Nope not having one. just more junk to be disposed of, you have first generation, now second generation
& soon to come third generation.
Do not think people will be taking them to their local tip to be recycled.
Why do we need to be told to turn lights of we are not using.
Have yet to have my mind changed over smart meters.
 

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