smart meters show your energy use, but here's how you can actually save money
There are gaps in UK households’ understanding of their energy usage. Credit: Daisy Daisy/Shutterstock

Soaring energy prices are squeezing homes and businesses across the UK and Europe, prompting leaders to implement support measures such as the UK’s Energy Price Guarantee. Yet it is often unclear to a consumer how much they are spending on energy. For those not on prepayment meters, there is no direct fee each time a light is switched on or a cup of tea is made.

Energy bills also tend to be paid in average monthly sums spread across a year. This protects households from winter price rises when energy use increases. But it also means that the amount households pay for energy is not directly linked to their daily or monthly energy consumption. This separates households from their energy use and the bills they pay.

Smart electricity meters could change how households use energy. They track a household’s energy use and express the cost on an in-home display.

There are now 25.6 million smart meters installed in homes and businesses across the UK. Though the number of installations varies, an additional one million smart meters are installed on average each year.

The UK government believe that smart meters could cut household energy bills by 2–3% on average based on trials from their nationwide smart meter roll-out program. But research cautions against the benefits of smart meters for households.

Not so smart meters

A smart meter can reveal which of a household’s appliances use the most energy. Their proponents argue that they support behavioral change and incite discipline over energy use by raising household energy consciousness. But the effectiveness of a smart meter depends on the decision of an individual not to consume or waste energy.

Research that I co-authored found evidence that there are gaps in UK households’ understanding of their energy usage. In other words, many households exhibit what we call a low level of “energy literacy”.

Heating control systems can be complex, often involving timers and zonal controls that regulate the temperature across different rooms. We found that it was common for people to misunderstand these systems.

Some of the households interviewed admitted that they did not know how their boiler worked or how to adjust its controls. Others had their heating on continuously and simply turned the boiler on and off at the wall. This can lead to over or under heating parts of a house, resulting in wasted energy. It is therefore likely that those who respond to the prompts offered by smart meters will already be conscientious energy users.

However, the move away from physical heating controls may exacerbate the problem. Not all people will be able and willing to engage with smart meters. While there is a lack of research into the extent of energy literacy across different social groups in the UK, digital exclusion may leave some households still unable to control their own heating.

Understanding fuel bills is also a part of energy literacy. Research shows that many households have a limited understanding of their energy bills. In a 2021 survey, just 46.6% of the 2,520 UK adult bill payers questioned were able to identify the correct definitions of six terms commonly used on their energy bills. Without guidance, many households will be unable to use the information provided by their smart meter effectively.

Energy suppliers instead accrue considerable benefits from smart meters. A smart meter delivers information about a home’s energy use to suppliers remotely and reduces the necessity for routine door-to-door meter reads.

Finding a place for smart meters

Smart meters may prove valuable for households on variable fuel tariffs, where the per unit price of energy they pay varies at the discretion of their energy supplier. The cost of energy rises during the hours where energy demand is at its highest and falls during periods of lower total energy use.

If smart meters are able to convey instant and future unit energy prices then consumers can shift energy intensive activities, such as washing clothing, towards cheaper periods including overnight. The National Grid is trialing a scheme which will compensate energy suppliers for offering households discounts on their electricity bills for reducing their energy use during peak times. The scheme applies to homes with smart meters, who receive an alert 24 hours before the test session.

Energy can also be stored in house batteries and in electric cars. Variable tariffs would allow them to be recharged when energy is cheap and used during periods of peak energy use. Initial trials conducted by renewable energy company Octopus Energy revealed that charging batteries using variably priced energy could save households up to £580 per year.

This would also accelerate the transition towards electrified household heating. If enough homes use variably priced energy to recharge storage batteries and use them to satisfy their peak energy demand, the requirement for backup energy sources to bolster electricity generation during periods of high demand is reduced.

Smart meters may be ineffective at encouraging greater energy consciousness. But in the future they may allow households to take advantage of a flexible energy grid built around variable pricing and energy storage. But given the current energy crisis, there is limited opportunity to switch energy tariffs. When the situation changes in the future, it is likely that smart meters will play a larger role in household energy consumption. Provided by The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citation: Smart meters show your energy use, but here’s how you can actually save money (2022, November 23) retrieved 23 November 2022 from https://techxplore.com/news/2022-11-smart-meters-energy-money.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

TECH NEWS RELATED

White Americans who believe White people are poor may be more likely to support welfare policies

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain White Americans who think that White people are poor are more likely to believe that welfare recipients are hardworking, and to support welfare policies, according to new research in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Previous studies on this subject have focused on White Americans’ beliefs ...

View more: White Americans who believe White people are poor may be more likely to support welfare policies

Insider trades on behalf of family are more lucrative than other trades, study finds

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain When people hear the term “insider trading,” they typically think of financial scandals involving Martha Stewart, Ivan Boesky or the movie “Wall Street.” But the term also has far less sinister connotations. “Insiders trade in shares of their firms all the time,” said Jide Wintoki, ...

View more: Insider trades on behalf of family are more lucrative than other trades, study finds

People respond more intuitively to spoken language and more analytically when reading, study finds

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain Opinion poll or survey results could potentially change depending on whether respondents are provided with spoken or written information, new research suggests. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General on “language modality”—the written or spoken form in which language is presented—finds that people ...

View more: People respond more intuitively to spoken language and more analytically when reading, study finds

Study explores crowdfunding and entrepreneurial failure

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain As means to raise capital for a business venture, crowdfunding has come increasingly to the fore since the advent of social media. A good campaign that goes viral can quickly bring adequate funds for an adventurous start-up. Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, ...

View more: Study explores crowdfunding and entrepreneurial failure

White teachers often talk about Black students in racially coded ways

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain When a white Texas middle school teacher told his students in November 2022 that he was “ethnocentric” and thought his race was “superior,” he attempted to explain his position by arguing that he was hardly the only person who held such a view. “Let me ...

View more: White teachers often talk about Black students in racially coded ways

Researchers assess danger that marine heat waves pose to young sea snails

A Kellet’s whelk laying egg capsules. Credit: Steve Lonhart Scientists, fishermen and nature lovers alike worry how sea creatures will fare as the oceans change around them. There’s plenty of evidence that higher temperatures will place stress on marine animals. But just as important is the heat’s effect on ...

View more: Researchers assess danger that marine heat waves pose to young sea snails

Vanishing sands: How sand mining is stripping away earth's beaches

Credit: Duke University Press In Morocco, up to 60 million tons of sand are bulldozed, scraped or shoveled off beaches each year to be used as aggregate in concrete. In Singapore, developers have created 65 square miles of reclaimed land using sand mined primarily from beaches in less affluent ...

View more: Vanishing sands: How sand mining is stripping away earth's beaches

World's simplest animals get their place in the tree of life

The placozoan Trichoplax adherents. Credit: B. Schierwater, et al. The group with the world’s simplest animals—tiny blob-like life forms with no organs and just a few cell types—finally has a fleshed-out family tree built by a research group led by the American Museum of Natural History, St. Francis College, ...

View more: World's simplest animals get their place in the tree of life

Boost Infinite’s New Mobile Service Offers Unlimited Everything for $25

Implications of the latest wave of mega-fires for the European Green Deal

World Cup's 'middle income trap'—why breaking into soccer's elite is so hard to do (as Morocco might soon find out)

China's Belt and Road infrastructure projects could help or hurt oceans and coasts worldwide

Stricter enforcement of licensed premises is more effective than blanket 'lock-out' laws, finds Australian study

Three fears that make people reluctant to act as leaders

Top 9 Ways to Fix Instagram Not Working on Mobile Data

We live in a time of 'late capitalism,' but what does that mean? And what's so late about it?

Survey: Australians care more about cinema sound over screen size

Research explains basics of aerosol formation at the vocal folds

Ad-supported Disney Plus subscription now available, here’s what you get

Ulefone Armor 12S has opened Pre-sales, Starting at $179.99

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News