Sunday, 30 June 2013

Smart meters are coming to Haslingden and Hyndburn and could save you £65 a year


I recently visited a event in Parliament to find out more about smart meters. Most of you will ask straight away what a smart meter actually is. They’re a new energy meter that is due to replace your existing gas and electricity meter. Some of you will have already had one installed. British Gas has installed 653 in Haslingden and Hyndburn. It’s estimated that they can help you save around £65 a year on your energy bill.

So what do they do, you ask? Smart meters primarily do two things. Firstly they let your energy supplier, British Gas or otherwise, know exactly how much energy you are consuming. This means that you won’t receive estimated bills like you probably do at the moment, and you’ll only be charged for exactly how much energy actually used. Secondly, you’ll be able to see in pounds and pence, how much energy you are using at any one time – putting households in control of what energy they use.


As more and more of them get delivered to homes around the country there will lots of ways that people can benefit even further. New tariffs will come forward offering discounted prices at low demand times, so if you wash your clothes over night rather than at the same time as watching Coronation Street, then you’ll pay less for the energy you use. When you switch supplier it will take no time at all, rather than the current time of around a month. They will also make the energy industry more transparent, something we can all support.

So when will you be getting one? The Government has mandated they be installed in every home by 2020. British Gas has already installed a million around the country or 75% of the total installed. If you’re a British Gas customer you can go here to register your interest in receiving one, bumping your name up the list of when it’ll be installed. But each energy supplier will have its different roll out plan and you’ll need to speak to them about how they’ll be getting you one.

For more info visit this website: http://www.britishgas.co.uk/smartmeters

Why is there a need for smart meters?
• Customers today have a low understanding of how they are using energy , making it difficult to see opportunities for saving energy within their home, and sometimes resulting in ‘bill shock’.
• Today’s standard meters need to be read either by a meter reader or a customer which can be inconvenient
• The majority of gas and electricity bills are estimated, which is confusing for customers
• At the same time:
o Energy prices are rising so household budgets are under pressure
o Significant waste of energy exists – it’s estimated £1 in every £4 spent on energy is being wasted, and £1.3bn is lost across UK households by not switching off gadgets
o Technology developments across most industries mean customers expect to monitor their own information in real time and digitally eg internet banking, smart phones

What is a smart meter?
• Smart meters replace standard gas and electricity meters and come with communication capability
• The smart meters communicate with an In Home Display (IHD) called a ‘smart energy monitor’ to show customers their energy use in pounds and pence as they use it.
• The smart meter also sends information back to the supplier that means an end to estimated bills. It can also receive information from the supplier, for eg changes to a tariff or switching of supplier.

What are the benefits of smart meters to customers?
• See your energy as you use it: Smart meters mean for the first time, customers can see how much gas and electricity they are using as they are using it, allowing them to take control and reduce waste
• No more estimated bills: Smart meters send regular automated readings back to suppliers so bills are no longer estimated
• No more meter readings: as readings are automated
• Personalised Advice: tailored reports show customers where they use their energy and provide personalised advice on how they could reduce consumption
• Improved satisfaction: Net Promoter Scores (a widely accepted customer service measure) are consistently around 40% higher and complaints around half that of standard meter customers. A key reason is that queries about estimated bills is one of the most frequent calls British Gas receives, which no longer exist with smart meters. In the future pre-payment meters will become easier to top up – either online or via mobile phone so some customers may choose prepay as a lifestyle choice.

What are the benefits of smart meters to suppliers?
• Smart meters represent a unique opportunity to understand customers’ energy usage better and therefore improve service and products, for e.g personalised energy reports new tariffs and new propositions, allowing us to build trust. Plus increased competition from ease of switching will further drive these benefits.
• There are also real cost savings for suppliers which in a competitive market, will quickly be passed on to customers. An Oxford Economics report, commissioned by British Gas, estimated over £10bn of savings to the industry between 2012-30.

How much will customers save with a smart meter?
• Oxford Economics report ‘The value of smart metering to Great Britain’ published in September 2012 and commissioned by British Gas, shows customers could reduce consumption by 5% which would result in an average saving of £65 a year off their energy bills as a result of the smart meter rollout.

How much will a smart meter cost?
• Smart meters are being installed as part of a free nationwide upgrade for all residential and small business customers. The cost of smart meters, like standard meters, form part of our business operating costs which are reflected in prices.
• Oxford Economics predicted that there will be £14bn net benefit to the UK as a result of the smart meter roll out.

What do smart meters enable in the future?
• Smart meters are a gateway technology that underpin further benefits such as:
o Time of Use tariffs–tariffs that allows customers to shift usage so suppliers can better spread demand and ensure more responsible power generation, thus reducing cost of energy for customers.
o They also allow for the creation of a smart grid which will allow for smart appliances to automatically be used at the cheapest time of the day.
o Other initiatives to make homes smarter, e.g Remote Heating Control, solar panels & microgeneration.

In what order is British Gas rolling out smart meters across Britain?
• British Gas will be rolling smart meters out on a phased basis. At present we are mainly installing smart meters where the meter life of a standard meter has expired. Instead of replacing them with another standard meter, they will be replaced by a smart meter
• This approach allows the cost of the rollout to be kept to a minimum.
• Customers can now also pre-register for a smart meter at britishgas.co.uk/smartmeters

Why is British Gas installing smart meters now?
• We all know that household budgets are under pressure and energy costs are volatile. With smart meters, customers can for the first time see for themselves what energy they are using, its cost and, crucially, take steps to cut usage and their bills. Smart meters also see improved levels of customer service and an end to estimated bills.
• These are benefits which customers can and so should benefit from now and we believe it is our responsibility to provide these benefits to our customers as soon as possible
• We also know it will be important to gain learnings quickly to ensure the challenges of the programme can be met. A lot of these lessons learned have been shared through our Industry Report and with DECC so have benefitted the industry as a whole.

Can customers who get a smart meter now still change supplier?
• Having a smart meter doesn’t affect your ability to change supplier.
• At present if British Gas customer moves to a different supplier their smart meter will revert to standard mode. If they decide to come back to British Gas we can switch the smart meter back into smart mode.

ENDS
Notes to the editor
1. Smart meters will put an end to estimated bills by sending energy suppliers exact meter readings automatically, meaning customers will only pay for the energy they use. Customers will also be given a smart energy monitorwhich will display, for the first time, how much gas and electricity they are using and its cost in near real time. Smart meters also allow for innovations like Smart Energy Reports which provide personalised advice, giving customers even more insight into how to reduce costs and waste even further.

2. The Government requires all homes and businesses to have a smart meter installed by 2020. British Gas already has the largest number of smart meters in Britain with one million installed in homes and businesses so far.

3. The average British household would save over £65 per year (£65.50) based on the 5% reduction in energy usage calculated by Oxford Economics, given the average annual dual fuel bill of £1,310 according to Ofgem.

About British Gas:
British Gas is the UK's leading energy supplier, and serves around 12 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country's homes – as well as providing energy to one million UK businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Home Services expertise in the country. Find out more at britishgas.co.uk.

Contact Louise Yarrall
PR Manager, British Gas
0800 1077015