What your smart meter upgrade means for you
The ESB smart meter rollout is taking place across Ireland now, so whether you’re a homeowner or a business, you’ll get your new smart meter free of charge before 2024. Here’s what you need to know.
What are the disadvantages of smart meters?
Smart meters can help reduce your energy bills and give more insight into your energy usage. But there may also be some downsides to consider.
Smart meter tariffs
Smart meter tariffs, or time of use tariffs, were introduced with the roll out of smart meters. They can help you save money by offering discounted rates during off peak electricity times or at night time.
A smart tariff typically consists of three periods charged at separate rates. For example:
- The ‘day’ period is from 8am to 11pm (but excludes ‘peak’)
- The ‘peak’ period is from 5pm to 7pm
- The ‘night’ period is from 11pm to 8am
The rates for customers during these periods are set by your energy supplier.
Do smart tariffs cost more?
If you are on a smart tariff, you are charged more for using electricity at peak times, so if you don’t change any of your habits, you could also end up paying slightly more for your energy.
The pay-off for customers is that those who use the night rate – from 11pm until 8am - can receive a large discount compared to the regular tariff.
Customers who schedule their electric vehicle to charge at off-peak times can also save a lot on their bills.
How many households have a smart plan?
ESB Networks have installed 1.4 million smart meters since 2019, however only 1 in 10 smart meter owners are currently on a smart plan.
Time-of-use tariffs can mean higher rates during peak hours, so it’s important to find one that suits your habits or you could end up paying more for your energy each year.
But there’s steps you can take to help you choose the right plan.
How do you choose the right smart tariff?
If your cautious about signing up for a smart tariff, you can:
- Ask your supplier to share insights into your energy usage before you move, so you can choose a plan that matches your habits.
- Sign up to a 24 hour smart plan, which charges the same rates day and night. If you use energy throughout the day it could be a good option to start with.
It’s important to regularly monitor your electricity usage while you’re on a smart plan, so you understand when you’re using the most energy.
Remember once you move, you can’t switch back to a standard plan.
Off peak electricity times
Off peak electricity times are outside the period of 5pm-7pm. For those on smart tariffs, it’s when electricity is cheaper to use. If you’re on a smart tariff, you could save money by moving much of your electricity usage from day-time to between the hours of 11pm and 8am.
Before moving to a smart tariff, it’s a good idea to discuss the details with your supplier as you won’t be able to move back to a standard plan.
The ESB’s ‘Beat the Peak’ initiative aims to shift electricity usage away from peak times during winter months.
The scheme is part of a wider government campaign - Reduce Your Use - which aims to educate consumers on how to decrease their energy consumption.
How to read your smart meter
- Default display 1. Shows the cumulative kWh reading for a 24-hour period 2. Current time-of-use tariff (i.e T1, T2, T3) day, night and peak 3. Meter connection status
- Date/Time display: You can select the time/date screen by pressing the left button.
- Cumulative kWh display: You can toggle between the total kWh used for time-of-use tariffs (T1, T2, T3) - day, night and peak - to see your energy usage patterns.
- Other options: By pressing the left push button, you can scroll through a number of displays before returning to the default, cumulative display.
Find out more by watching this video from ESB Networks.
Smart meter apps Ireland
Although many suppliers don’t have specific apps for smart meters, when you sign up to a smart plan you can receive insights into your energy usage by logging onto your online account.
For example, Electric Ireland’s Home Electric+ plans give you access to your own electricity usage charts, which appliances are using the most power, and projected energy use.
When are smart meters coming to your area?
As part of the National Climate Action Plan, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has tasked ESB Networks with the rollout of the National Smart Metering Programme for all of Ireland.
It’s a phased rollout so, on top of those upgraded during 2020, a further 500,000 smart meters are expected to be installed every year between now and 2024.
ESB Networks will be in contact when they reach your area, to let you know when your meter will be upgraded and whether you need to be present.
Do you have to get a smart meter installed?
No, smart meters are not compulsory. If you’d prefer not to have a smart meter you can refuse, although you’d miss out on all the benefits they offer.
How do you get a smart meter if you don’t have one?
You can apply to ESB Networks or contact your electricity supplier for an early installation. You’ll need your 11-digit MPRN number to hand which can be found on your electricity supply bill.
The replacement work will be carried out by either an ESB Networks technician or an electrical contractor working on behalf of ESB. All installers will carry a photo ID badge to identify themselves.
Will you have to pay for your smart meter upgrade?
No, all smart meter installations are free of charge.
If you’re looking for other ways to save money on your energy bills, we have a number of useful guides to help you cut your energy costs. See our Top energy savings tips for ways to use less energy in the home.
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, our guide What help can you get paying your energy bills? provides helpful advice.