Friday, 13 July 2007

Electricity firms are trying out new Smart meters

Four major UK electricity suppliers has signed a contract with the government to install 40,000 smart meters as part of a two year trial. The government is giving £10 million towards the costs of this. The purpose of the trial is to determine whether smart meters actually reduce people’s electricity consumption. It is hoped the smart meters will help people change the way they use electricity.

The smart meters will have a clip-on display unit that shows electricity use in real time. This means the consumer can see exactly how much each appliance is costing them to run. Whether this will make people change the way they use electricity remains to be seen. I’m sure people will be more likely to turn off lights and appliances on stand-by once they see how much it is costing them. The aim is to have every home fitted with smart meters by 2017.

The consumer watchdog energywatch believes this is inadequate and has asked the government to make all new and replacement meters smart meters. This makes so much more sense. Why install new meters and replace existing ones with ordinary meters, then in a few years time have to go through the whole process again and replace them all with smart meters. The only reasons I can see for this is that with the existing meters the electricity companies can give estimated bills and can make more money by over estimating electricity use, and if they install smart meters people will use less electricity so they will make less profit. It seems like a strange thing for any retailer to do, to ask their customers to buy less of their product! Maybe the government needs to bring in legal requirements for the use of smart meters.

[Via The Guardian]

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