I have a smart meter – why am I still being asked for a meter reading?

meter readings

You may have noticed that we’re big fans of smart meters here at Eversmart.

One of the main benefits of having a smart meter is that you don’t have to submit manual meter readings – the meter automatically collects and transmits your usage information for you.

So if that’s the case, why do some customers with smart meters still get asked to submit a manual reading?

There are two main reasons this could happen:

Reason no. 1 – You have just switched to us

Let’s say you’re in the middle of switching to Eversmart from another supplier. You already have a smart meter and you’re going to carry on using it.

Your smart meter should send a closing reading to your old old supplier and an opening reading to Eversmart, right? In theory yes, that’s how it should work. But in reality, the old supplier might not release the meter to Eversmart in time – which is why we still ask for an opening meter reading when you switch.

You will only have to do this once. After the switch is complete, your smart meter will automatically send readings to us, and you’ll never have to send a manual reading again!

Reason no. 2 – You don’t have a Secure smart meter

Smart meters
Eversmart use Secure brand smart meters

Don’t be confused – we’re not saying that your meter is insecure or vulnerable. “Secure” is the name of the company that manufactures our smart meters. If your smart meter was fitted by Eversmart, it will be a Secure model.

Secure is one of the most popular smart meter brands, used by around 80% of energy suppliers – including Eversmart. Their meters are SMETS compliant, they are suitable for both direct debit and prepayment customers, and they are compatible with the popular Pipit 500 in-home display.

This means that Eversmart can only take automatic readings from Secure meters.

If your meter was fitted by a different energy supplier, it may or may not be a Secure meter. If it’s not, you will unfortunately have to provide your own meter readings. But don’t worry – we’ve made the whole process as easy as possible.

How to submit a manual reading

You can submit a manual meter reading any time, day or night, simply by logging in to your online account. Once you’ve logged in, just click or tap on the meter readings tab and enter your readings.

If you’re having trouble logging in: Just send an email to hello@eversmartenergy.co.uk and one of our advisers will help get you up and running.

If you need help reading your meter: We have created this handy guide complete with illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions.

Will this change in the future?

Yes. As the second generation of smart meters (known as SMETS2) are rolled-out, there will be no more incompatibility issues between different suppliers and meters. Eversmart are currently in the testing process and we plan to start installing SMETS2 meters in 2019.

Can I change to a Secure meter?

We may be able to upgrade your smart meter, depending on the type of meter you currently have and which part of the country you live in. Please email hello@eversmartenergy.co.uk for more information.

What is a kilowatt hour? Your questions answered

What is a kilowatt hour?

If you’ve looked at your energy bill lately, you’ve probably come across the term ‘kilowatt hour’. It’s a confusing piece of jargon that trips may people up. In this article, we’ll explain what a kilowatt hour is and answer some other common questions.

What is a kilowatt hour?

Put very simply, a kilowatt hour (or kWh) is a unit of energy. Much like you pay for petrol by the litre or phone calls by the minute, you pay for gas and electricity by the kilowatt hour.

electricity meter
A meter displaying electricity use in kWh. Image source.

When you’re shopping around for gas & electricity, suppliers have to quote their prices in pence per kilowatt hour (Ofgem says so). This makes it easier to compare prices and find a good deal.

For those interested in the technical definition, here it is:

1 kilowatt hour is the amount of energy a 1kW device would use if it was run for one hour – approximately 3.6 megajoules.

For example, a 1 kW heater left running for 1 hour would consume 1 kWh (or 1 unit) of energy.

What is the cost per kilowatt hour?

There isn’t a standard price – it depends on both your energy supplier and the tariff you are currently signed up to.

Unit prices for electricity can range from around 12-18 pence per kWh. Gas is around 3-4 pence per kWh.

Note that you also pay a standing charge with most energy tariffs – you can find more information about standing charges here.

What’s the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt hour?

A kilowatt is a unit of power. The kilowatt (kW) rating of an appliance describes how quickly it uses energy.

A kilowatt hour is a unit of energy. It describes an amount of energy consumed.

Put it this way – if kilowatt was like the speed of a car, a kilowatt hour would be how far it has travelled.

How do I find out how many kWh I use?

Find out my kilowatt hour use

If you are shopping around for a new energy supplier, it’s useful to know how many kWh your home uses in a month. You can get this information from your current provider – either by looking at a paper bill or by checking your online account.

If you can’t find your exact usage, you can still compare prices using something called Typical Domestic Consumption Values – or TDCVs.

TDCVs are calculated by Ofgem using data from typical households, as shown below:

Fuel Usage kWh (annual)
Gas Low 8,000
Medium 12,000
High 17,000
Electricity Low 1,900
Medium 3,100
High 4,600

Source: Ofgem

For example, a small family living in a 3-bedroom house would probably be classed as a ‘medium use’ home. They could expect to use around 12,000 kWh of gas and 3,100 kWh of electricity in a year.

How do I reduce my energy consumption?

Concerned that your kWh use is too high and costing too much? There are two things you can do:

  1. Claim a free smart meter – this will help you monitor your energy use and take control of your spending.
  2. Switch to a cheaper energy supplier. Eversmart Energy offer some of the best value energy tariffs on the market. You can enter you details and get a quote in under two minutes here.

World’s most powerful offshore wind farm officially opens off Aberdeen coast

EOWDC

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) was officially opened this week by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The 11 turbine system was developed by the Swedish company Vattenfall, and is said to be the most powerful in the world.

Scotland is already home to several onshore and offshore windfarms, and despite its relatively small size the country is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy.

The new development has a total generating capacity of 93.2 MW – enough to supply around 70% of the domestic energy demand in nearby Aberdeen, or the equivalent of 80,000 homes.

The project was briefly in the international spotlight back in 2015 when Donald Trump, then a US presidential candidate, attempted to block planning permission for the site claiming it would spoil the view from his Aberdeenshire golf course.

“Groundbreaking Project”

Nicola Sturgeon was joined by over 100 business leaders and dignitaries for the opening ceremony, held on board a NorthLink Ferry in the North Sea.

EOWDC
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Vatennfall CEO & President Magnus Hall for the opening ceremony.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am proud that as part of this groundbreaking project, the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines are now up and running in Scotland.”

“The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will maintain Scotland’s reputation for innovation in low-carbon and renewable energy development and deployment.”

“A single rotation of one of these 8.8mw turbines will generate enough energy to power a home for 24 hours, which truly shows the potential of this technology to strengthen Scotland’s renewable energy-generating capacity in the future.”

The site began producing power in July, ahead of the official opening in September.

Facebook wants to run on 100% renewable power by 2020

Facebook

The technology giant has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 75% and move over to 100% renewable power by the end of the 2020.

Around two billion people are thought to log in to Facebook every day, along with its family of popular apps & products – including WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and Oculus.

Energy use

What many people don’t realise is that behind the scenes there is a huge hidden world of servers and data centres powering these apps. Every time you upload a photo, stream a video or ‘like’ a post, that information has to be stored somewhere – and all of those servers and all that infrastructure require a colossal amount of electricity to keep running around the clock.

In 2017 Facebook consumed just under 1,500 gigawatt hours of electricity – more than some small countries! As well as powering its servers, data centres eat up a lot of energy just to keep cool. And that’s before you factor in the cost of powering offices & other facilities.

Data centre
One of Facebook’s larger, custom designed data centres in Oregon, USA. Source.

Renewable energy targets

The company announced earlier this week that they would reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 75% and power their global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. They plan to use a variety of methods to achieve this goal, such as renewable energy tariffs and direct power purchase agreements with generators. Most of the renewable electricity will come from wind and solar.

At present Facebook runs on 51% clean energy, achieving a goal they set for themselves back in 2015. In 2009 they switched from renting server space from other companies and began designing their own.

 

Top image source

There have never been more suppliers to choose from, says Ofgem

switching energy supplier

There are now 72 active energy suppliers in the UK market, according to a new set of facts & figures released by the energy regulator Ofgem – with small & medium companies making up around one fifth of the market.

  • Ofgem estimates a saving of £375 by switching away from one of the ‘big 6’ suppliers
  • Gas prices are lower in the UK compared to the average European country
  • UK electricity prices are around average
  • 2.1 million electricity customers switched suppliers during the first half of 2018

In 2014, new regulations made it easier for smaller ‘independent’ energy companies to enter the market, providing some much-needed competition for the so-called ‘big 6’ who up until then had dominated the industry. Eversmart Energy launched in 2016 with an aim to educate energy customers who were paying too much, and moving them onto cheaper tariffs.

Since then, record numbers of people have switched suppliers, thanks largely to the internet and greater choice for consumers.

You can see the full set of findings below. Click or tap on the image to view the full-size version.

Ofgem infographic

Infographic by Ofgem

‘Flexible charging’ could make it cheaper to run an electric car

flexible grid

New proposals by Ofgem could cut the cost of running an electric car and allow 60% more vehicles to be charged at once.

The energy regulator Ofgem has put forward a set of proposals that would encourage EV owners to charge their cars outside of peak periods – when demand is lower or when renewable energy is more readily available.

Flexible energy tariffs are already available for domestic electricity customers, where electricity is cheaper at certain times of day. A similar scheme for electric cars could increase capacity by at least 60% without having to build new power stations, says Ofgem. Instead, vehicle owners could take advantage of abundant renewable energy when it’s windy or sunny.

Preparing for the smart grid

electric vehicle
New petrol & diesel vehicles will be phased out and replaced by electric by 2040. Image source.

In the future, electric cars could collectively be used to store excess renewable energy when supply out-strips demand, selling the power back to the grid when needed. Doing so could reduce costs not just for vehicle owners, but electricity customers in general.

“The way we generate, transport and use electricity – and power our cars – is undergoing a radical transformation in Great Britain” says Jonathan Brearley, executive director of systems and networks at Ofgem. “Ofgem will ensure that the energy system is fit for this exciting, cleaner future and at the lowest cost for consumers.”

The National Grid is preparing for a phase of rapid change, as electric vehicles are set to replace petrol & diesel cars by 2040.

Vehicle owners would need a smart meter as well as a smart charger to take advantage of cheaper off-peak energy. For now, the flexible charging system is still in the planning & consultation stage.

Government launches ‘Road to Zero’ strategy to reduce vehicle emissions

hybrid car

The government has laid out plans for ‘at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030’, as part of its new ‘Road to Zero’ strategy announced yesterday.

The strategy explains how the government intends to meet its ultimate goal of banning new petrol & diesel vehicles by 2040. Low emission diesel and hybrid vehicles will play a role in the eventual shift over to fully-electric cars. The government wants the UK to be ‘the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle’.

More charging points

The government wants to see charging points built into all new street lights, new homes and other buildings such as offices. £400 million will be poured into expanding the existing charging infrastructure, putting more charging points in public spaces and service stations.

The strategy also mentions a £40 million fund for developing new charging technologies.

charging points
The government wants to see a massive expansion of the public charging network. Image source.

Financial incentives

The plan admits that electric and low-emission vehicles are still relatively expensive, and outlines a number of financial incentives for people to take up green vehicles – including the extension of the plug-in car grant, possibly as far as 2020.

There will also be a £500 incentive for EV owners to install a charging point in their own home, with similar grants for workplaces.

Hybrid cars will not be banned

BMW i8
Hybrid cars such as the BMW i8 (pictured) will not be banned after 2040

In a move that has been praised by the motor industry, hybrid cars will not be banned after 2040.

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, told the Press Association the government was “starting to listen to the automotive industry’s concerns”.

“The fear was that the government would force the uptake of full electric vehicles – something that the car-buying public have yet to show an interest in… Instead, this news gives the freedom for a more phased uptake of technologies, including part-electric hybrids, as well as the option for alternative power sources to emerge, such as hydrogen.”

Working with the energy industry

The ‘Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce’ will be created to get the energy and automotive industries talking to each other to plan for huge increase in demand for electricity and infrastructure.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “The coming decades are going to be transformative for our motor industry, our national infrastructure and the way we travel. We expect to see more change in the transport sector over the next 10 years than we have in the previous century.”

“The Road to Zero Strategy sets out a clear path for Britain to be a world leader in the zero emission revolution – ensuring that the UK has cleaner air, a better environment and a stronger economy.”

What are the pros and cons of solar panels?

pros and cons of solar panels

If you’re thinking about getting solar panels installed on your rooftop, you’re not alone – there are almost 1 million solar installations in the UK already! To help you decide if solar panels are right for you, our experts have compiled a list of some of the major pros and cons of solar panels.

Note – if you’re looking for even more ways to reduce your living costs, you can save up to £400 per year by switching to Eversmart – we’re one of the UK’s cheapest energy suppliers. Get a quote in under 2 minutes here.

Read on for our top pros and cons of solar panels:

 

Advantages of solar energy

Advantages of solar energy

Save & make money

Let’s be honest – who doesn’t love saving money! A home solar system actually saves and makes money in 3 different ways:

1. Cheaper electricity bills

The more sunlight your panels soak up and turn into electricity, the less you will have to buy from your electricity supplier – which means cheaper energy bills! The exact amount you can save depends on a whole range of factors – such as the number of panels, which part of the country you live in, and your typical energy usage – but the Energy Saving Trust estimate that a typical household in the south of England could save as much £220 per year.

2. The Generation Tariff (formerly the Feed-in Tariff)

The old feed-in tariff, where the government paid you per unit of clean energy you produced, was launched in April 2010 ended in January 2016. The rates were much more generous than they are now, leading to a solar power boom in the early years of this decade.

The new scheme gives you a set amount of money per unit of electricity you produce (in pence per kilowatt hour). The rate you get varies depending on a number of factors – you can find out more on the government’s website.

The Energy Saving Trust estimate that you can make between £115–£160 per year from the generation tariff.

3. The export tariff

What happens to the electricity that you don’t get around to using? You can sell up to half of it back into the grid. The National Grid will give you 4.85p per unit of electricity sold. The EST estimate that you could make up to £105 per year from exporting.

So to summarise – a big installation in the right part of the country in the right conditions could make you up to £485 better off per year.

It’s good for the environment

Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source. It doesn’t produce carbon dioxide or any other harmful greenhouses gasses, and unlike fossil fuels it will never run out (at least not in the next few billion years!)

Experts estimate that you can save around 1.2–1.7 tonnes of carbon from being released into the atmosphere per year.

They are low-maintenance

A typical set of rooftop solar panels will last for around 25 years, making them a great long-term investment. Once installed, they require very little in the way of maintenance other than a quick clean every now and then.

They work in bad weather

It’s a common misconception that solar panels only work where it’s hot & sunny. They work just fine in the UK and they can still generate power even when it’s cloudy. The UK actually has the sixth highest solar capacity in the world!

 

Disadvantages of solar energy

Disadvantages of solar energy

Big up-front cost

Solar panels aren’t cheap – a new system typically costs around £5,000 to £8,000 to install. The good news is that energy saving products such as solar panels qualify for the reduced rate of VAT in UK – 5% instead of the usual 20%.

The system will pay for itself eventually, so to get the best value from your panels you shouldn’t be planning on moving any time soon.

It’s difficult to store energy

Solar panels only produce electricity during daylight hours, and you really have to use it there and then if you don’t want it to disappear back into the grid. You can use batteries to store the excess juice and save it for when you need it, but the battery arrays are expensive.

Technology is improving however and prices may eventually come down, making them a more attractive investment. The Tesla Powerwall is one example of domestic battery storage that could make storing solar energy more feasible in the future, but for now the battery and associated hardware costs just under £6,000.

You house & roof may not be suitable

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, solar panels work best on a south-facing roof. If you roof faces east & west, the effectiveness of your panels will be reduced. Your roof also needs to be big enough to accommodate the panels (things like skylights, chimneys and dorma windows can get in the way) and should ideally have a pitch of around 30-40 degrees. Solar panels may not be a great idea if your roof is often shaded by trees or tall buildings.

You can’t install them yourself

Technically you could install your own DIY solar array if you really wanted to, but it’s not recommended. For starters, you won’t be immediately eligible for the generation tariff. The system would first have to be certified by an MCS-accredited engineer, who may be reluctant to sign-off a system that they didn’t install or supervise.

They might make your home more difficult to sell

According to research from consumer website Which?, two thirds of estate agents said that solar panels make no difference to a home’s value. 16% actually thought they would lower the price of a house, and just 8% thought they would increase property value.

That said, having solar panels can improve your home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the benefits of the generation and export tariffs will be passed on to the new owners.

 

Have you recently had solar panels fitted? Do you think it was worth it? What advice would you give to somebody thinking about getting them? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Ten of the World’s Greenest Football Stadiums

Green football stadiums

The 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia later this month, so what better time to take a look at some of the most eco-friendly, energy efficient football stadiums in the world.

Stadium owners around the globe have been making big steps to cut the environmental impact of these huge energy-hungry buildings, from covering roofs in solar panels to recovering & recycling rainwater. And it’s not just national stadiums and top-flight clubs that are going green – one non-league English team features on our list, with one of the most eco-friendly football grounds in the world!

You can check out the full list in the infographic below. If you would like to re-publish it on your own website or blog, we have included some easy embed codes at the bottom.

(Click or tap on the image for a better view).

Green Football Stadiums - Infographic by Eversmart Energy

Use this infographic on your own website

Simply copy & paste the below code into your website editor.

<img src="https://www.eversmartenergy.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/green-stadiums-infographic.jpg" alt="Green Football Stadiums - Infographic by Eversmart Energy" width="800" height="7779" /> <p>Infographic by <a href="https://www.eversmartenergy.co.uk/">Eversmart Energy</a></p>

Scotland sets new 90% carbon reduction target

Edinburgh

The Scottish government has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050. This exceeds the UK’s overall target of 80%, making it one of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world.

The Climate Change Bill

The Climate Change Bill, which was introduced last week, sets out to cut emissions by 90% compared to 1990 levels. The Scottish government says that the 90% target is “at the very limit of feasibility”, but that they are eager to push the target right up to 100% as soon as realistically possible. At this point the country would achieve “net-zero” emissions – where 100% of the carbon released into the atmosphere is captured or offset.

  • The Scottish government claims that the Climate Change Bill is the toughest and most ambitious in the world
  • Scotland will include a fair share of all international aviation and shipping in its targets
  • The targets will cover all greenhouse gasses – such as methane and nitrogen oxides – not just carbon dioxide
  • As soon as the technology exists to deliver the 100% target, it will be written into law

Scotland’s track-record

Scotland has an impressive track-record when it comes the climate change targets. The country has already reduced emissions by 38% since 1990 – Sweden and Finland are the only industrialised European nations that have done better.

Its unique climate and geology means that Scotland can generate large amounts of renewable energy, particularly from wind and hyrdo. In 2015, renewable sources accounted for over half of Scotland’s electricity consumption.

The Scottish Parliament building

Criticism

Some climate change campaigners have criticised the bill for not being ambitious enough, stating that the 100% target needs to be brought forward in order to meet the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Scottish ministers have pointed out that they took on independent advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change, and that the current target is at the limit of what is feasible right now.

Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said that: “Our climate change bill sets out our commitment to reduce emissions by 100 per cent with ambitious interim targets which strengthen Scotland’s world-leading position on climate change.”

“Our 90 per cent target will be tougher even than the 100 per cent goal set by a handful of other countries, because our legislation will set more demanding, legally-binding, annual targets covering every sector of our economy.”

“By 2030, we will cut emissions by two-thirds and, unlike other nations, we will not use carbon offsetting, where other countries are paid to cut emissions for us, to achieve our goal.”