Could smart metering be on the way for everyone?

It's possible that we'll soon be paying different prices depending on when we use our electricity.

Maeve McLaughlin
by Maeve McLaughlin on 19th October, 2016

In recent years, the popularity of home energy monitors has increased, with many people saying these devices have helped them to cut down on their usage and thus save money on their energy bills.

And, now, we’re hearing rumblings about the introduction of smart metering, too.

What is smart metering?

We’ve already seen some energy suppliers in the UK introduce smart metering. It works like this:

  • Unlike home energy monitors, smart meters are installed in the home by the energy supplier as part of your contract. The meters generally come with an in-home display so you can monitor your usage.
  • Once installed, the meters use a secure network to wirelessly send information on the customers’ energy usage to their supplier.
  • Households no longer have to provide their own readings - or have meter readers come to their home to read their meter - and don’t get any more estimated bills.

There are many advantages to this kind of metering, including more accurate billing and better understanding of energy usage for customers.

It also allows suppliers to introduce more innovative energy tariffs, charging customers more or less depending on when they use their energy.

Are we going to see smart metering in Ireland?

Any major change in terms of metering will likely come from the Commission for Energy Regulation. However, smart metering does seem to be the way of the future, so we would say it’s very likely we’ll see something similar here soon.

In fact, earlier this week, ESB’s innovation director, Paul Mulvanney, spoke to the Irish Independent about the medium- to longer-term impact of smart metering on the grid and potential advantages to customers.

Mulvanney spoke about the future of energy usage, where the consumer is in greater control. He said that we could see smart metering introduced here by 2019, and mentioned that it could be based around ‘green energy’ periods, along with ‘time-of-use’ tariffs.

The idea around this would be to encourage customers to change their behaviour and start to use energy at non-peak times, which would ease pressure on the national grid.

Have there been any trials done?

Well, the ESB’s Big Energy Hack, which is taking place this month, is looking at energy challenges for the future and trying to come up with possible solutions.

One of the identified challenges is to empower customers to be more energy-efficient in their homes.

In order to address this challenge, Electric Ireland is currently conducting a smart home trial using data analytics and smart devices to give homeowners an insight into electricity usage across their appliances.

The Big Energy Hack will use this data to consider the kinds of smart solutions that could be developed to help customers understand their electricity usage and empower them to manage it more efficiently.

Do smart meters help people to save money?

Feedback on standard home energy monitors online does seem to be pretty positive, with people saying that being able to visualise their energy usage helped them to cut down and save money.

In addition, the ESB carried out trials which found that when people knew there were cheaper tariff periods, they saved up to 5 per cent on their bills.

It definitely seems like this would be a positive move into the future of home energy usage, so watch this space….

What can I do to save money on my bills now?

For now, the biggest saving you can make on your bills is by switching provider - the average consumer can save up to €387 by switching from standard tariffs to the cheapest deals on the market.

You can also read more about about energy-saving gadgets in our guide to energy-saving devices.

Make savings now - compare energy deals