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Ian, County Durham

Ian Roberts in his kitchen

Ian’s smart meter has inspired him to replace many of his energy inefficient household appliances and revolutionise his cooking and cleaning habits – so much so that he’s already saving over 40 per cent on his energy bills. Ian lives in a semi-detached three-bed house with his wife and their terror of a West Highland Terrier, Archie. 

I had my smart meter installed in August 2015. The installation process was very straightforward and all done within one hour.

I’m an IT technician so I’m on my computer a lot, and I check how much energy I’m using through an online portal. The dashboard is always open in the background and I probably check it ten times a day. When I saw spikes appearing on the graph that shows my energy usage I wanted to know exactly what was causing them. Once I’d worked out which appliances were the culprits (namely the kettle, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, oven and hob), I then set about making changes where possible.  

My wife is an author so both of us work from home, and we noticed that the kettle, which gets boiled up to around 20 times a day, was causing a clear spike in our usage graph each time. After doing a bit of research I invested in a thermal hot water boiler and dispenser – not only have we got rid of those spikes, we also have hot water waiting for us when we get out of bed! 

The vacuum cleaner was the next appliance to be replaced with an energy efficient alternative. When I looked into it, our old one used 2200 watts, and would be banned under current EU regulations. The hoover we have now only uses 485 watts and you can’t even tell when we’ve used it from looking at our energy usage graph. It also has far better suction!  

I also bought an air fryer, which cooks everything we used to do in the oven but uses 2600 less watts. We actually haven’t turned on the oven since having the smart meter installed last August! 

In addition to replacing some of our gadgets, we’ve also changed the way we use other appliances in order to use less energy and save money. With the dishwasher, I discovered that a 30-minute quick cycle used hardly any electricity in comparison to a full two-hour cycle, and was just as efficient, so we always use this setting now. 

I also realised we were spending quite a bit of money heating rooms neither one of us (nor the dog!) were using. I invested in some bluetooth radiator valves, which I’ve timed to come on when people are actually in the rooms. I can also turn radiators on/off and adjust the temperature from my smartphone, so we’re no longer wasting money and energy heating empty rooms. 

In total, I’ve spent £375 on energy efficient gadgets and appliances, but they’ve already paid for themselves in the savings we’ve made on our bills. We’ve always paid £83 a month for both gas and electricity, and my energy supplier is now suggesting I pay £49 a month as I’m in so much credit. My energy bills are currently £408 less than this time last year.

I’m amazed at the amount we’ve saved in just six months - the smart meter has completely changed the way we cook and clean. It’s definitely empowered us with the knowledge of how much energy everything uses, and incentivised us to find more energy-efficient and cheaper to run alternatives. 

There are other benefits on top of the savings. With my old meter, I always meant to submit my readings every month, but I’d tend to forget and then only do it once my energy supplier sent me a reminder. Now I get an accurate statement every month, which I view online, although I can also print them out if I wanted. There’s no more estimations and also no more need for me, or a meter reader for that matter, to go out into the cold to check my meters, which are outside the front of the house. The meter man who used to come and take our readings often left the meter door open as well – I had to get out of bed on numerous occasions to shut it after it had been clattering in the wind, which was rather annoying! 

The biggest benefit of the smart meter though is the visibility it gives me on how much energy we’re using and what that means for my wallet. We really had no idea how much our appliances were costing us to run. I can now see what I’m actually spending and look at the peaks in our usage, and I’ve learnt what that means in terms of energy consumption and the impact that has on our bills. I feel really confident that I know exactly how much energy I’m using now – I could probably draw the graph I’d see on my energy usage dashboard tomorrow if you asked me!