Elspeth’s smart meter means that she no longer needs to struggle with accessing her prepayment gas and electricity meters to top them up. Elspeth, a local councillor, lives with her husband and two grown-up daughters in a house in Drumchapel, a suburb of Glasgow.
We’ve always had prepayment meters – they’re really useful in managing energy costs and mean that you don’t get any unexpected bills. However, we’ve always found reading them and topping them up to be a pain, so when we first heard about the benefits of smart meters from our energy supplier, we were really keen to get one.
Our gas meter is located outside, on the ground. Before we got our smart meter installed I would have to get down on my hands and knees to read it or to top the meter up – this was particularly difficult as I suffer from a frozen shoulder, which made it tricky to put the card into the meter. Our electricity meter is buried in a cupboard under mountains of things, with tables, chairs and an ironing board stored in front of it. Topping it up meant having to move everything out of the way, and then putting it all back again – not what you need when you’re working full time and often in a hurry.
Now that we have a smart meter I can easily see how much energy we’re using in pounds and pence on the in-home-display, which sits next to the sofa, and I can also top up the credit online, so we never have to access the actual meters anymore.
The display has been particularly useful in encouraging my daughters to be more conscious of the energy we use. They know that they can’t put the heating on if the temperature is 22 degrees or above and I’ve shortened the length of their showers after seeing how much energy they use.
When we had our old meters, I was always forgetting to take the key or card to the shop to get them topped up, and we often ran out of credit at inconvenient times – once I was making a pair of curtains on my sewing machine and the electricity ran out. I really needed to get them finished that night and having to go to the shop to top up wasted precious time. Now, our smart meter warns us when we are close to running out of credit, and I can see at a glance how much we have left. Plus, I can top up from home, whenever I need to.
It’s saved us money too – if the light on the in-home display turns orange then we check all our appliances to see whether they actually need to be on. And being more conscious of our energy use since getting a smart meter has reduced the money we spend on electricity from £80 a month to £60 a month.
I’d recommend that everyone on a prepay meter upgrades to a smart meter – they give you all the best bits of prepay without the hassle, and they can save you a fair amount of money.
To hear from Elspeth herself, click on the video below: