What is a smart meter and how do they work?

How do Smart Meters work?

The government wants a smart meter installed in every home and business in the country by 2020. In this article we’ll tackle some of the most common questions & concerns about smart meters, including; what are smart meters? How do smart meters work? How much do they cost? How are they fitted? And are they worth it?

Smart meters explained

Smart meters are designed to replace old, traditional gas & electricity meters. Smart meters communicate directly with your energy supplier, transmitting regular, accurate meter readings. This means no more climbing into your cupboard in order to give your supplier a manual reading. It also puts an end to inaccurate energy bills based on estimated usage.

Smart meters usually come bundled with an in-home device (IHD). Also known as an energy monitor, the IHD has a screen that displays how much gas and electricity you are using in near real-time. Seeing your energy usage and spending can help you adjust your lifestyle and save energy & money.

Smart meter diagram
A typical smart meter set-up for a dual fuel customer.

What does a smart meter look like?

The actual smart meter – the unit that’s usually tucked away in a cupboard or a corner – looks similar to a traditional electricity or gas meter. However when most people mention a ‘smart meter’, they’re actually referring to the in-home device – this is a sleek, small display that sits on a shelf or table top and displays your energy usage. It’s fairly small and discreet – perhaps a little larger and bulkier than an average mobile phone.

What does a smart meter look like?

How much does a smart meter cost?

Nothing! Your smart meter will be installed for free. If you switch over to Eversmart, you will receive a free smart meter fitted by a trained engineer plus a free home safety test. You can find out more about switching to us here and more about our smart meters here.

What are the benefits of having a smart meter?

There are two very big benefits of having a smart meter installed. The first is that your energy bills will no longer be estimated and you will only pay for the actual amount of gas and electricity you use. The second is having visibility of your live usage. The IHD displays your kWh usage and the amount you are spending. This is especially useful if you are a pre-payment customer, as the smart meter will tell you how much credit you have left.

We have listed a few more benefits below:

  • More accurate bills
     
  • No need to submit manual meter readings
     
  • Improved service – As energy suppliers get a better understanding of their customer’s energy usage and habits, they can offer better tariffs.
     
  • Remote topping-up – Pre-payment customers with a smart meter can top-up online or over the phone. No more walking to the shops just to top up your gas and electric!
     
  • Save energy and money – If you can see how much energy you are using and when you are using the most, it’s easier to make smart choices and lifestyle changes that will reduce your usage, bring down your bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
     
  • Helping to create the “smart grid” – The more people that have smart meters, the more energy suppliers can plan ahead and supply energy more efficiently. This saves money for both the suppliers and their customers.
     

Some other frequently asked questions:

How do smart meters transmit data?

Smart meters from Eversmart come with a mobile SIM card that transmits your usage data. It can also receive messages and updates. The SIM is completely free and you do not need to pay a monthly bill or any other fees for using it.

The SIM can roam between several networks, so there’s no need to worry about whether it will get a signal.

Do smart meters need the internet to work?

No. The smart meter uses a SIM card to communicate with the energy supplier. The smart meter also connects wirelessly with the IHD (it doesn’t use your Wi-Fi, as some people believe).

Are they safe?

There have been rumours and conspiracy theories floating around that smart meters are somehow harmful to your health. We can tell you that smart meters are subject to the same safety regulations and rigorous testing as other consumer technology products, as required by UK and EU law.

Smart meters do emit low-level radio frequencies, as do many consumer electrical products. Public Health England (formerly The Health Protection Agency) say that the evidence suggests the radio waves produced by smart meters do not pose a risk to health. The government has published a very detailed report on smart meters & health, which you can read here.

How are smart meters powered?

The smart meter is powered directly by your home’s power supply. Your IHD from Eversmart can be plugged in or powered by batteries. Note that if you turn off the IHD, the smart meter will continue working and transmitting data as usual.

Who will install my smart meter?

Your smart meter will be fitted and tested by a trained engineer.

How long does it take to fit a smart meter?

It usually takes up to one hour per meter (gas and/or electricity). So if you are a dual-fuel customer, it should take no longer than 2 hours.

The video below gives you a brief overview of the installation process:

Note that dual-fuel customers will need two smart meters – one for your gas supply and one for your electricity. Both are free and we will aim to install both in the same visit. You will only need one in-home display.

Can I switch energy suppliers if I have a smart meter?

Yes. Be aware however that if you already have an older 1st-generation smart meter, it may not be compatible with your new supplier. If you are unsure, check with your current supplier before making the switch.

Modern 2nd-generation smart meters can be switched seamlessly between suppliers.

Can I get a smart meter if I pre-pay for my gas or electric?

Yes. A smart meter will help you monitor your usage and allow you to pay remotely. They’re also ideal for people with limited mobility, as traditional meters are often difficult and inconvenient to access.

Can I get a smart meter if I rent my home?

Yes. As a tenant, if you are directly responsible for paying the energy bills, then you have the right to choose your own energy supplier. In most circumstances your energy meter belongs to the energy company, not your landlord. This means that you are free to switch suppliers and get your old meter replaced with a smart meter (Ofgem recommends that you still give your landlord a heads-up before getting a smart meter fitted).

IHD
An Eversmart in-home display (IHD)

How to get a smart meter

Eversmart Energy offer a free smart meter to every new customer. We also offer some of the best value energy tariffs in the country – you could save up to £400 per year by switching to us. You can get a quote in under 2 minutes here.

New technology can charge an electric car in just 8 minutes

electric car

Swiss company ABB have unveiled the ‘world’s fastest’ electric vehicle charger, which can give an electric car 200km of range in just 8 minutes.

The Terra HP fast charger is said to be the fastest in the world, operating at powers of up to 350 kilowatts – around three times faster than Tesla’s Superchargers which put out 120 kilowatts, and almost 6 times more powerful than the CHAdeMO charging technology used by Volkswagen.

ABB demonstrated the new technology in front of world leaders and VIPs at this week’s Hanover Fair.

Consumer concerns

Long charging times and so-called ‘range anxiety’ are two often-cited reasons for the slow adoption of electric cars by the public, along with the relatively high price of new vehicles. The 8 minute charge-time will hopefully help to ease some of these concerns.

ABB fast charger

Worldwide roll-out

ABB have chargers in around 6,500 locations in 60 countries, including the UK. The brand has also been selected by Electrify America, the biggest electric vehicle infrastructure project in the United States.

The new fast chargers are intended for highway rest stops and petrol stations, where short charge times are essential. It’s hoped that putting charging stations along popular routes will boost consumer confidence and encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, Tesla are pushing ahead with their plans to put more chargers in urban areas. The company are busy developing new compact superchargers, which are ideal for cramped, inner-city locations where space is limited.

 

ABB is a “pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally.” The Swiss/Swedish company oprate in more than 100 countries and employ around 135,000 people.

 

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Should I switch to a small energy supplier?

Should I switch to a small energy supplier

For a long time the gas & electricity market has been dominated by the so-called ‘Big 6’ energy firms, leaving consumers with a limited number of options when it came to choosing a supplier. Today, there are over 40 energy providers including many smaller – or ‘independent’ – companies who can offer very competitive prices.

But despite the fact they are considerably cheaper, many people are nervous about switching to a lesser-known supplier – but should you be?

What is an independent energy supplier?

Basically, any company that isn’t one of the Big 6 – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power or SSE– is considered as a ‘small’ or ‘independent’ energy company.

Back in 2014, the energy regulator Ofgem announced plans to open up the electricity market and encourage healthier competition between suppliers. These plans included several proposals that would “level the playing field” and make it easier for independent firms to compete with the big boys – such as greater transparency when it comes to wholesale energy prices.

As a result, dozens of new suppliers entered the market, offering lower prices thanks to smaller overheads and freedom from some of the government obligations placed on the Big 6. Eversmart Energy was one of these companies – offering competitive pricing and refreshingly modern customer service through text and social media. We started supplying in 2016, and two years later we’re still going strong and still proudly independent!

Is it safe to switch to a small supplier?

A recent survey from Citizens Advice revealed that 1 in 3 people don’t feel confident switching energy suppliers. Another study from Money Saving Expert asked people what puts them off from switching – the number one answer was being unsure about using an unfamiliar firm.

Money Saving Expert noted on their blog: “While our poll shows many are wary of smaller suppliers, and feedback on new small suppliers is often limited, previous MSE polls suggest some smaller firms can actually offer a better customer experience than their big-name counterparts.”

Ofgem have also attempted to ease concerns about the stability of some smaller suppliers. If an energy company ceases trading, regulations are in place to make sure you are transferred smoothly over to a new supplier.

Whenever you switch energy suppliers, there’s very little hassle and no interruption to your supply. If you do decide to switch to an independent, you could save up to £300 a year!

How do independent companies keep their prices so low?

Eversmart Energy offer a free Smart Meter to every customer – this allows us to reduce operational costs and pass the savings on to you. Like many independents, we’re smaller and more flexible than some of our bigger competitors, with fewer overheads and lower operational costs.

We also understand that people’s lifestyles are changing, along with the way they like to communicate. If you don’t have the time to speak to us over the phone, we’re happy to communicate via text, social media or Facebook messenger – whatever works for you! We like to think we do things the smart way.

How do I make the switch?

Switching energy suppliers is quick, simple and hassle-free. You can get a quote and find out how much you could save here.

The UK just went three days without using coal power

coal power

The UK has just gone for a record-breaking 3 days without using any electricity from burning coal. The last time that happened was in the 19th century!

The country was runnng on nuclear, gas and renewables for a total of 76 hours, smashing the previous record of 55 hours set just last week, and far exceeding the 24-hour coal-free period from last April.

Demand for energy dropped during the recent period of warm weather, allowing other sources to cover the country’s needs without having to rely on ‘dirty’ power from coal.

According to the National Grid, gas power did most of the heavy lifting during the 3 day period, providing just over 30% of the total power used. Wind power came in second place with 25%, followed by nuclear at 23%. Other sources (including imported energy from Europe and biomass generation) accounted for around 15%. Solar power came in last with 6%.

UK electricty mix

Drop in demand

Coal power did experience a temporary spike in demand during the recent cold snap caused by the ‘beast from the east’. An increase in gas being used for heating reduced the amount available for power generation, causing coal power plants to come online.

Despite this, experts are expecting an overall drop in demand for coal, with the National Grid forecasting lower demand this summer compared to 2017, and two coal plants expected to close later this year.

Industry experts are optimistic that we will hit more renewable energy milestones in the coming year. “Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two,” said Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

Video: What is Fracking?

What is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking” for short) has been big news over the last decade or so. As natural gas reserves are being depleted around the world, this once expensive and complicated energy source is becoming increasing more viable, attractive and profitable.

It’s also a highly controversial technique, with well-documented potential implications to the environment and public health.

The short video below is from the excellent Kurzgesagt Youtube channel. Using animation and simple language, it explains what fracking is, how it works, the risks and the potential benefits. If you’ve ever felt confused by the whole fracking debate, it’s well worth a watch.

What do you think about fracking? Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Leave a comment below!

Renewable energy for beginners

renewable energy

Experts predict that the world will run out of traditional fossil fuels within fifty to one hundred years from now.

Renewable energy sources – such as wind, solar, wave, tidal and geothermal energy – have been steadily growing in popularity around the world for well over a decade, and as resources like coal and gas become more scarce,the world will need to up its renewable capacity.

Have you ever been confused by renewable energy? This excellent short video from National Geographic explains what it is, the advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy, and the challenges the world still needs to overcome in order to let go of our fossil fuel dependency.

The video answers questions such as:

  • What is renewable energy?
  • What are the most common sources of renewable power?
  • What are the benefits of renewable energy?
  • Are there any downsides to renewable energy?

10 simple ways to save energy around the home

energy saving tip

Saving energy doesn’t have to be difficult – following these 10 simple tips will help you cut your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint!

Switch to energy saving light bulbs

They may be a little more expensive, but energy saving bulbs last much longer and will save you money in the long-run. Replacing all of the traditional light bulbs in your home with LED lamps of the same brightness will save you around £35 per year!

Turn off the lights when you leave the room

Lights are responsible for around 7% of the total electricity used in the average home. If you can get into the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room, you can really take a bite out of your energy bill!

Use a washing up bowl

It sounds incredibly simple, but using a bowl when you do the dishes (instead of keeping the hot tap running) can knock around £25 off your annual gas bill and £30 off your water bill, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

Wait until it’s full

Don’t turn on your washing machine or dishwasher until they are nice and full. Doing so will significantly reduce your electricity and water bills.

Turn appliances off at the wall

Putting your electrical appliances on standby mode isn’t the same as turning them off at the wall. Even though they look like they are off, TVs, computers, games consoles etc. will continue draining power in when left on standby. Make a habit of flicking the switch on the socket.

Don’t overfill the kettle

The UK has a nasty habit of boiling too much water when making a cuppa, resulting in £68 million of wasted energy each year. Next time you make a brew, only heat the amount of water you need – or better yet, get a smaller kettle.

Set your fridge to the right temperature

Most fridges have a thermostat – find out where it is and set it to the right temperature. Your fridge should be between 3 and 5°C, and your freezer should be around -18 °C.

Take it easy with the oven

Pre-heating your oven doesn’t take as long as some people think – around 10-15 minutes is just fine. Turning it on earlier just wastes energy. You can also turn the oven off a few minutes before the end of your cooking time (especially if it’s electric).

Take a shower

Showers are far more efficient than baths, in terms of water and gas usage. If everybody in a family of four replaced one bath a week with a quick shower, you could save up to £20 a year on gas bills and £20 on water.

Get a Smart Meter

A smart meter gives you a near real-time view of your energy usage and will help you identify & cut out energy waste. You can get a free smart meter fitted by a trained engineer when you switch to Eversmart – find out more here.

 

Sources

http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/lighting
http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/saving-water
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23175220

A record number of people switched their electricity supplier in February

switching electricity

Over 660,000 people switched electricity suppliers last month, according to industry figures from Energy UK.

This is the highest ever number of people switching in a single month, and represents a 60% increase compared to the same period last year.

2017 also saw the highest number of people switching gas suppliers since 2008, according to the latest figures released by Ofgem.

The unusually cold weather, better informed customers and aggressive advertising by certain energy firms have all been suggested by experts as reasons for the high figures. Around 20% of switches were people moving away from the ‘Big 6’ and opting for a cheaper, independent supplier.

See also: Should I switch to a smaller energy supplier?

“The energy market has never been so competitive, and it’s great to see record numbers of consumers engaging in the market to get a better deal” said chief executive of Energy UK Lawrence Slade.

Customers can save up to £300 per year by switching their gas and electricity to a smaller, more competitive supplier such as Eversmart.

Welcome to our new blog!

Welcome to our new blog

Hello and welcome to the brand new Eversmart Blog!

Over the coming weeks and months you will see this area of our website filling up with useful advice, news from the energy industry, stories from our customers and announcements from our team.

There isn’t much to see yet, but please be sure to check back very soon! You can also keep up-to-date by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We love hearing from our customers – if you have a question to ask our team or a story you would like to tell us about, please let us know in the comments section below or via one of our social media channels.

Have you made the switch yet?

You could save up to £400 a year by switching your gas & electricity to Eversmart. Get a quote here.

About Eversmart Energy

Hi. We’re Eversmart and this is our blog! We're a UK energy supplier with a simple goal - to repair the broken relationship between people and their energy company. We also happen to be one the cheapest energy suppliers in the country!

Take a look around to find out what we’ve been up to here at Eversmart HQ. This is also where we share energy saving tips, industry news and advice on how to manage your account. You can find out more about us on our homepage - eversmartenergy.co.uk.