HOW A SMART METER COULD BENEFIT YOU, AND THE PERSON YOU CARE FOR
Whether you have a formal caring relationship for a person in need, or just help out a family member or neighbour when they need it, you're doing an amazing job. We know caring for someone can be busy, and there's always lots to think about - but submitting meter readings doesn't need to be one of them.
Read on to find out how a smart meter can make life easier, and give the person you care for more independence at home:
WHAT IS A SMART METER?
Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters. They’re being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace traditional analogue meters. They measure how much gas and electricity your household uses, as well as what it’s costing and display this on a handy in-home display (IHD).
Both the in-home display and the smart meter operate without the need to be connected to the internet. They use a secure communication system. This means your energy usage data is only visible to your energy supplier and authorised parties that you’ve given consent for this to be shared with.
CAN I GET A SMART METER IF I HAVE A PREPAY METER?
Smart meters are set up to work, whether you use prepay or credit. A smart meter in prepay mode even allows you to top up whenever it suits; online, via mobile or at the shop – meaning no more last-minute trips down the shop in the rain when the meter runs out! That means the person you care for can have more independence in topping up their prepay meter themselves.
HOW DOES A SMART METER MAKE THINGS EASIER?
We all want to work smarter, not harder. Smart meters could help make managing your energy bills easier by providing automated meter readings and accurate billing – meaning you only pay for what you use.
Smart meters are a great way of giving the person you care for back some of their independence in managing their energy bills. It also takes meter readings off your list, giving you the time for the things that really matter.
Automatic meter readings
Smart meters enable accurate billing – meaning the person you care for only needs to pay for the energy they actually use. So, no more calls to the energy supplier about unexpected bills.
Helping keep track of energy spending
The in-home display shows you in near-real time the amount of energy being used in pounds and pence, making it easier to keep an eye on energy spending habits and make small changes that translate into big savings.
Prepay customers can top up remotely
With prepay smart meters you can now top-up online, via telephone or text message, or even with a smartphone app - no gas card or electricity key necessary.
SO, DO SMART METERS SAVE YOU MONEY?
It's great learning about modern technologies, like smart meters. But how could getting a smart meter help you save money?
Just having a smart meter installed doesn't automatically save money. But the handy IHD that came with your smart meter helps you keep on top of household costs – it can show what your energy use is costing in near-real time, so you know how much electricity or gas you’ve used. . It's helping keep costs down – some people even save £10-£20 a month this way.
These smart meters are so smart, they're not just helping people save money – they're helping Britain build a modern, flexible energy system. With this upgraded system, the nation could save £8 billion a year – now that's smart.
Marilyn's cousin Mary has dementia. She still manages to live by herself at home, but bills are something that Mary struggles with.
Marilyn often goes round to help Mary with managing her bills, and recently she helped Mary get a smart meter installed. Now everyone can rest assured that Mary's receiving accurate bills, and remembering to take regular manual meter readings is finally off the list. Watch Marilyn talk about her experience:
My name's Marilyn. I live in Ipswich in a four-bedroom detached house with my husband. We've lived here about 11 years now.
My husband's cousin Mary has dementia. She lives very successfully in her own home. She looks after herself and copes quite well. But she struggles with her finances. So about a year ago we took that on and now manage all her bills.
We decided that by getting her a smart meter fitted, we would cut down one job that doesn't take a huge amount of our time, but is another thing to do.
Since we got her a smart meter we no longer have to submit meter readings, and no one has to go round to the house to read her meters.
It was so easy to get Mary's smart meter fitted. It took about two hours. It was all set up and ready to go immediately. She didn't need to have Wi-Fi in the house, and now she doesn't need to do anything with it at all.
I think the main benefit for Mary has been that she doesn't any longer get estimated bills. We always know how much is she's due to pay, and it's all very clear.
We also have another friend who we help out in a similar way. If she had a smart meter it would make our lives so much easier.
I would definitely recommend smart meters for elderly people who may find it difficult to access their meters to read them. And I would recommend for people who are caring for older people because it's one less job for them to have today.
THE PRIORITY SERVICES REGISTER
The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free service that some energy suppliers use to make sure the correct support is given to customers who need it. This support varies by supplier, and by what an individual needs, but can include:
- Large-format or Braille bills
- Advanced notice of service interruption
- Priority restoration of service in the event of a power cut
- Nominee scheme: customers can ask for communications (for example account statements or bills) to be sent to someone who has been nominated to receive them, for instance a carer
Customers who would benefit from the support offered by the Priority Services Register should contact their energy supplier directly to find out if they are eligible.
COULD AN ACCESSIBLE IN-HOME DISPLAY HELP YOU, OR THE PERSON YOU CARE FOR?
For anyone who is blind, partially sighted, or has difficulties with dexterity or memory loss, an accessible in-home display (AHID) could make tracking energy usage easier. The AIHD has been developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), and includes features such as large buttons and text-to-speech functionality.
Watch how the AIHD has helped Paralympian Marc, who is registered blind, take control of his energy consumption:
I know from experience how hard it is to notice the early signs of dementia in a loved one and how worrying it is, too.
I found out that my father would often leave the hob on all night, which was worrying, but more than that dangerous and he wasn’t aware he was doing it I wish I'd known that was happening much sooner.
So, imagine if a family member could be alerted that Grandma hadn't boiled her kettle for a couple of days, or a doctor could be notified that one of their patients was frequently watching TV in the middle of the night.
Both could indicate early signs of diseases such as dementia.
Well, a new report illustrates how that could happen in the near future, thanks in part to smart meters.
Smart meter data, with consumer consent, could be fed into a system which recognises patterns of appliance use over time and starts to learn the routines.
If unusual energy patterns were identified, such as failing to turn the cooker on, relatives or health care workers could be alerted that the person may need support.
This, in turn, could help people to remain in their own homes for longer.
It could also support family members and help alleviate pressure on our already stretched NHS.
Please note: Eligibility of smart meters and the AIHD may vary; Consumer action required to obtain cost savings and budgeting benefits of smart meters.
HOW CAN YOU REQUEST A SMART METER FOR THE PERSON YOU CARE FOR?
Have a chat with the person you care for to make sure they understand the benefits of a smart meter, and how it can help them manage their bills. If they’re happy to get a smart meter installed, then you can begin the process.
Carers are typically able to make smart meter appointments on behalf of the individuals they care for. Suppliers will ask a number of security questions when arranging the appointment, so it will be useful to liaise with the person that you care for to have this information to hand.
Carers looking to act as a named third party should contact the supplier to see how they can be added to the account.
Start entering their supplier’s name below to begin the process:
WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING THE INSTALLATION?
All suppliers have different installation booking processes. You will need to follow the individual’s suppliers standard booking processes – this information can be found on the suppliers’ website, or by calling the supplier directly.
Read on to see the general process to get a smart meter for the person you care for:
- Agree to a time slot and date with the supplier. An installer will never turn up unexpectedly.
- Make sure you know where the current meters are and take steps to ensure they’re accessible for the installer.
- The installer should present a valid identity card upon arrival, which you can ask to see if the installer does not present it upfront.
- It takes around one hour for an electricity meter, and around one hour for a gas meter. The energy supply will be cut off for a short period, but you and/or the person you support will need to be present for the installation. If the person you care for has a health condition reliant on energy supply rest assured, this will be addressed during the appointment booking.
- If a gas meter is being installed, the installer will perform a visual safety check on the gas appliances they are made aware of.
- You may be offered an in-home display that shows your spending in near-real time for no additional cost.
- Once fitted, the installer should show you and the person you support how to use the in-home display and offer energy-saving advice.
We are proud to be partnering with Carers UK, and pledge to support all the incredible carers whose tireless unpaid work makes such a difference to the lives of those in need.
According to a new report, 72% of carers have not had any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic. Now more than ever, it is important that carers get the support they need. Read the full report below:
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
- How smart meters are helping people save money - Read these smart meter reviews and see how people are using their smart meters to save money and budget more easily.
- How smart meters could transform health and social care - In just a few years, with the consent of the householder, data from smart meters could be used to help provide better care for people with conditions such as dementia, by making it easier for them to live in their own homes for longer.
- Smart Energy Explained - New research reveals that people living with a long-term disability, on low incomes or in later life say having a smart meter has made their lives easier. So, we've worked with Ade Adepitan MBE to highlight the different ways smart meters can benefit you.