Energy gets intelligent with smart meters

This is a sponsored post on behalf of British Gas. Click here to find out what that means.

British Gas LogoThere's something I've always wondered: given that the gas meter is in a box outside my house, why does the meter man knock the door to tell me he's about to read it? Is it so that I don't think there's some ruffian in my garden and burst out the door brandishing an under-used golf club? The thing is, meter readers are likely to become a thing of the past, with the UK government planning to have a Smart Meter in every home in the UK by 2019.

Smart Meters are much like the ones we've had up to now – they live quietly under the stairs, or in their cupboard, but these ones are networked. Rather than having to be read by a man turning up at your door, or you doing it yourself, they transmit your energy usage back to your provider daily. Bad news for meter readers, but potentially very good news for the average consumer.

Why is this good news? The main benefit that comes to mind is that you will not receive any more estimated bills. Sometimes they work in your favour, like when your energy company thinks you used more gas and electricity than you really did and you end up in credit, but more often than not I find I haven't paid enough… with a more accurate picture, energy providers will be much less likely to drop a surprisingly large bill on you after a string of estimated readings. 

British Gas has committed to do their bit by providing free Smart Meters for their customers – take a look at the video below to find out more about their vision for smarter energy usage:

I like the idea that the British Gas Smart Meter can, as well as handling those automatic readings for you, be linked to a monitor to tell you exactly what your current energy usage is. We have something similar on our electricity meter at the moment, and I can tell you it changed the way we used the power in our house… for a start, I was much more likely to switch things off to try and keep the numbers as low as possible, and there has been at least one occasion when I've noticed a particularly high figure and discovered the immersion heater on when it shouldn't have been. 

One last benefit to Smart Meters, and up-to-date information, is that energy companies can better plan the demand on their services. I remember going on a tour of Hunterston B (nuclear power plant) when I was young, and being told that they tried to predict energy usage. The example the tour guide gave was that there's a surge in demand when Eastenders finishes as a slew of households put the kettle on. Smart technology will (and perhaps already can) enable companies to produce just the right amount of energy at the right time – doing away with the need to try and store any over-production, or experiencing shortages due to over-demand. 

What do you think of the Smart Meter idea? Is it going to make your life easier? Is it really the first step in greener energy production? Or is it a way of cutting costs by eliminating meter men? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. If you want to let British Gas know your thoughts directly, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter

Sponsored Post –  I will receive financial payment for posting this article. Please be aware that I will never accept offers of paid posts where I am required only to give a positive opinion – objectivity is important to me and you can be sure that what I write, even in paid posts, is what I really think.

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