HOW TO USE A SMART METER
When you have a smart meter installed you will be offered an in-home display. This monitors and displays your energy use in near real-time, so you can see exactly how much you’re using in pounds and pence. This valuable information could help you save money on your energy bills. Read on to find out how to use your smart meter to save money.
How to use a smart meter
The key to using your smart meter is the in-home display (IHD). The IHD tells you in near real-time exactly how much energy you’re using and how much it is costing you. By checking your IHD, you can make informed decisions about how you use energy at home.
You can use the in-home display to measure the energy usage of any household appliance. As long as that appliance is connected to your gas or electricity supply. Simply watch how the information on your IHD changes when you turn the appliance on. Always make sure to keep note of what your usage is before you turn on the appliance you're checking.
How to use a smart meter to save money
By using and understanding smart meter data, you can identify times and situations when you're using more or less energy. The more information you have on your own energy usage, the more in control of it you could be, allowing you to make savings.
To use your smart meter to understand your energy spending, or you want to know how to use a smart meter monitor, also known as the IHD, follow these steps.
You will need:
- A smart meter installed.
- Your in-home display to hand.
- The controls for appliances or devices you want to better understand.
1. Find your baseline
Start by looking at your in-home display with all the devices you would normally have on. This gives you a baseline level of energy usage. Make a note of this figure. Your in-home display can measure energy usage (in kWH) or cost (in pounds and pence), so it’s up to you how you’d like to measure it.
Make sure nobody else in your home is turning devices off or on while testing as this could change the results.
2. Turn on (or off) the appliance you want to test
Choose the appliance you want to test and either turn it either on or off. Once you do, pay attention to your in-home display and wait until it updates you on how much energy you're using. It only takes a few seconds for your in-home display to update on electric usage. Gas usage takes longer, about 30 minutes.
3. Compare the differences
Work out how much energy your device is using by comparing your original baseline measurement with what it is now showing on your display.
For example, if your in-home display was showing your electricity usage was costing you £0.19p per hour, but when you switched off one of your devices your consumption decreased to £0.14p per hour, the difference in cost is 5p per hour. This means your device is costing you 5p per hour to run.
Similarly, if your in-home display was showing your electricity usage has moved from 0.58kWH to 0.43kWh, that would mean your device was using 0.15kWh of electricity.
4. Take control of your energy use
Use the information you can get about how much energy you’re using to make informed decisions. For example, you can use your IHD to identify lights that have been left on, or appliances that have been left on standby. Or you can check which appliances use more energy, and make decisions like whether you want to switch the heating on or use an electric blanket. Or use a heated clothes rail rather than a tumble dryer, for instance.
So, do smart meters save money?
Just having a smart meter installed doesn't automatically save you money. But having a smart meter can help you take action to save money. The IHD keeps you informed of how much energy you’re using, so you can use it to help you save energy, and reduce your energy bills.
Smart meters aren’t just helping people keep the cost of their energy bills down. They're also helping Britain build a modern, flexible energy system. With this upgraded system, the nation could save £8 billion a year – now that's smart!
How does a smart meter save you money?
It’s not the smart meter itself, but the actions you take with the help of your smart meter that help you save money. With a smart meter, you can track and adjust your energy usage. You can also access tariffs which could help you spend less on energy.
Some energy suppliers offer time-of-use tariffs to their customers with smart meters. Time-of-use tariffs offer different prices for energy at different times of the day. With these tariffs, energy is cheaper when less people are using energy, or when there is more renewable energy being generated.
More ways to save with a smart meter: how do smart meters save money?
A smart meter sends your meter readings directly to your supplier, on a half-hourly, daily, or, in some cases, monthly basis. This means you get accurate bills based on your energy usage, rather than estimates from your energy supplier, so you only pay for what you use.
The smart meter system is made up of two parts – the smart meters, which replace your traditional gas and electricity meters, and the in-home display – a portable screen that shows you how much gas and electricity you’re using and how much it’s costing you.
Both parts of the system work together to ensure you receive accurate information about your energy use. Your smart meter records your electricity use in near-real time, and every half hour for gas. The meter then securely shares these readings automatically with your in-home display for you to see. You can choose how often your meter readings are sent to your supplier, speak to them to find out your options.
The more frequently your supplier receives this data, the better they will understand how much energy is being used around the country, and when. With this information, they can buy more accurate amounts of energy to supply to their customers, helping to make our energy system more efficient.
Knowing what you're spending also means fewer surprises when your bill comes through. Having a much clearer picture of how much you've spent at any given time means you can budget more effectively. In fact, some IHDs even allow you to set a daily budget, helping you to stay on top of your spending.
Watch our video to see how smart meters work in a little more detail:
What to do if you’re worried about being able to pay your energy bills
You may be eligible for extra help with schemes like Winter Fuel Payment or Warm Home Discount. See our guide to energy bill support schemes for further information, or contact Citizens Advice. For more advice, see our page on what to do if you think you need help with energy bills.
For prepay customers, you can also find out how to use your smart meter in prepay mode to save you money.
More energy saving tips
There are even more ways you can cut down the energy use in your home, which will help you save money on your energy bills.
By turning down your thermostat, lowering your combi boiler temperature and taking 4-minute showers, you could save as much as £340 a year. Read our energy saving tips for even more tips to save energy around your home.