British Gas one of the largest energy suppliers in the UK recently bought a 5.7 million stake in a company called AlertMe, which specialises in energy management systems such as smart meters. A smart meter monitors gas and electricity usage in homes and businesses. They take multiple readings everyday which results in more accurate bills and relinquish the need for estimated billing.
Additional benefits of installing a smart meter include not having to give any readings yourself. The plan is for every home in the UK to be fitted with one by 2020. Currently a company called First Utility is leading the way in smart meters, but British Gas has set a goal of installing 2 million by 2012, which is why it has recently bought part of AlertMe. The total cost of installing these new meters in every home in the UK is thought to be around 7 billion pounds with energy companies picking up most of the bill.
In recent times a lot of negative publicity has been drawn to inaccurate billing with some people being grossly over billed based on poor estimations. The new meters should effectively eradicate this problem.
You can buy smart meters which not only provide readings but also information on how much energy you are using and the cost of it. The government is pushing for all homes to cut CO2 emissions and become more energy efficient. The much publicised backing of smart meters and their benefits follows the highly successful government backed gas boiler scrappage scheme in early 2010. This led many of the top UK energy suppliers to offer their own incentives with British Gas giving further discounts when people bought British gas boilers on top of the government grant. Now it seems attention is being directed towards smart meters with many of the country’s leading energy companies trying to gain a foothold in this emerging sector of the market.
At moment most new meters use a SIM card like the one in your mobile phone, for example, British Gas utilises the GPRS GSM network to send and receive information. The concept of smart technology in the home presents some exciting prospects. For instance we could control household appliances remotely, so you could in theory turn on your oven or washing machine when electricity is cheapest. From an energy standpoint it could be feasible for gas boilers to be heavily integrated with smart and energy meters so that energy is used more efficiently, cutting bills and Co2 emissions at the same time. Smart meters will also lead the way for better tariffs and tailored energy plans which are personalised to individual homes.