Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer



My son, Monty, has worked out how we can save over £2,000 per annum on our energy bills – and smart meters are a key factor in the savings.  Even more important than that smart meters will play a key role in a shift towards a renewable energy powered UK..

The critical factor in this is that smart meters enable ‘time of use tariffs’. This means that the energy companies can incentivise consumers to use energy at off-peak times and reduce energy use at peak times. This is really important because sudden surges in demand for power, for example when everyone gets home from work, means dramatically boosting electricity generation, which is much easier to do with coal or nuclear fuel.  Smoothing out the peaks and having a more consistent demand for energy makes it easier to have a higher proportion of our supply coming from solar, wind and other renewables.  

If you have solar panels, the cost benefits of the time of use tariffs are even greater. You can use the ‘free’ energy from your panels in the day, and the off-peak energy at night.  We’ve been paying a fixed rate tariff of about 19p per unit, day and night, for our electricity, plus a nominal daily charge.  Monty has switched us to Octopus Energy, which are also 100% renewable, but charge about 13p per unit in the day and only 5p per unit at off-peak times.  Wow. Also – they specialise in maximising the benefits of smart meters. I was amazed at the difference it will make.  

Furthermore, we’re going to be working out how to significantly reduce our energy use – and make sure we charge our electric car at night. It won’t be difficult to use less though because we’ve had major building works going on for several years, and they’re nearly finished! Hooray… If you want to switch to Octopus, click on this link and you’ll get a £50 credit – and we will too!

Me speaking about smart meters on BBC Radio Oxford – 17sep19

I’ve just been speaking on BBC Radio Oxford about smart meters.  The speaker before me was very damming about them. One of the points he made was that they only benefit the electricity companies, as they don’t have to send round people to read your meters. What nonsense.  Consider how much CO2 and other emissions would be reduced by eliminating the need for meter readers travelling all over the country to millions of households.  Also, there is a real benefit in being more aware about how much energy you’re using, so smart meters can really help households work out how to reduce consumption, and work out a better energy plan.

One thing to beware of is that there are two types of smart meter – the SMET 1 and the SMET 2.  The SMET 1 is not as smart as the SMET 2, because it ties you into your existing energy provider. If you move, it won’t work with the new provider.  The SMET 2 feeds its data to a central body and means you can switch as much as you like. However, we haven’t been able to go straight to SMET 2 because it requires a good mobile signal to send data.  We’re switching providers first, then installing the SMET 1 and making sure we can upgrade it to SMET 2, when and if our mobile signal improves.

I’m convinced that smart meters are smart – and that we should all be embracing them, rather than resisting and complaining…. 

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