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Pete, Worcestershire

Pete posing in his newly equiped smart meter home.

Pete’s smart meter has helped him reduce energy waste by giving him immediate feedback on his energy use – and he’s saved on his bills as a result. Pete is a semi-retired former IT worker, and lives at home in Worcestershire with his wife. His two adult children have moved away, and he has a one-year-old granddaughter. 

I first saw a smart meter at my aunt’s house last year and thought to myself “I quite fancy one of those”. It was the ability to see how much energy you’re using that was so appealing. I’m a gadget freak, basically. I worked in IT for years, so I love technology and keeping up with the latest gizmos.

Come May 2016, once the meter was up and running, I was checking the in-home display (IHD) daily. It was fascinating to see which appliances burned up more energy. The kettle really surprised me – it’s one of our most inefficient devices, whereas the toaster actually ticks along quite well and doesn’t have a big impact on the cost of our energy while we’re making toast.

I’d say the biggest way that we changed our behaviour was by making sure ‘off’ means ‘off’, not that ‘off’ means ‘standby’. We noticed the amount of energy we were using via standby was adding up significantly, so we now make sure that when we turn our devices off, they’re properly off.

When we first got a smart meter, it became a bit of a game to work out if we could get our energy use down to zero. To be honest, for us it’s been more about changing our behaviour and our energy use than counting pennies – if you tackle that, you can save quite a lot of money in the long term. For instance, if we go away for the weekend we make sure everything’s off – and we’ve gone from averaging about £2.50 a weekend on our energy use to about 45p, just by being smart with our energy.

My mother’s 91, and I help her out with a lot of the day-to-day stuff in life – helping look after her finances, making sure she has all she needs at home, that sort of thing. It’ll be great when she gets a smart meter too because we’ll be able to look at her energy use, check she’s okay, and help her have one less thing to worry about. I’ve asked her supplier and we’re hoping to get one installed for her soon. At the moment it’s a hassle to submit her meter readings, and can mean a 30-mile drive for us to help out.

I honestly can’t think of any negatives when it comes to smart meters. I put mine in the utility room, as it was easier to fix it there, and because I was checking it all the time! The information smart meters give you makes such a difference to how you see your household and can definitely be quite addictive. You’d be amazed how much energy you waste when you do something as simple as leaving a phone or tablet charger plugged in!

I pay by Direct Debit and, as I say, we’ve really looked at the way we can make our energy use more efficient and have seen a difference when it comes to our bills. If I had to sum up smart meters in a sentence, I’d say that they’re very small and convenient, have a great display, and are reliable.