There is a lot of confusion at the moment around smart meters. Mostly around switching supplier after you have a smart meter installed. Should I get a smart meter for my business? Will my new energy supplier be able to read the smart meter? How can I use the data? Will it save me money?
Let’s get started.
First of all, why don’t we look at the benefits of smart meters for your business. Then you can judge if the positives outweigh the negatives.
Should I get a smart meter for my business for accurate billing?
For businesses, a huge positive benefit of installing a smart meter is accurate billing. As energy consultants, we unfortunately come across numerous cases of prolonged estimated billing.
Businesses forget to send readings to their electricity or gas supplier, so the energy supplier has no choice but to guess the amount of electricity or gas their customer has used.
If they underestimate the amount of energy your business has used, then you can easliy end up with a potentially crippling ‘catch up’ bill further down the line.
This article provides more clarity about why you should provide regular meter readings to your energy company. And the mess that can result if you don’t!
Some suppliers, such as EDF, will only send you an invoice when they receive a meter reading. Hopefully you will be making monthly Direct Debit payments to your account. But how do EDF know if this is too much or too little without a reading?
A smart meter will ensure your energy company receives regular, correct readings. Your business will receive accurate bills. And you won’t be on the end of any nasty surprises.
Should I get a smart meter for my business? For accurate billing, most definitely, a yes!
Should I get a smart meter to monitor energy use?
We actively encourage business owners to try and reduce their energy use to save money. Can a smart meter help you to reduce energy use? Yes and no. Yes it can, if you get access to the data and study it.
If you don’t, your energy company will use one reading a month to generate an accurate invoice. While great for billing, it isn’t going to help you much beyond that.
To monitor energy use, should I get a smart meter for my business? Yes, if you take time to read the data. See where you are using more energy than you think necessary, and take action to reduce energy waste. Be aware that some ‘smart’ meters just send one reading a month to the supplier, which is great for accurate bills, but not much else.
What happens to my smart meter when I change my energy supplier?
This is the crux of the matter. Typically, your new energy supplier won’t be able to read the data. Basically, your smart meter loses its smartness. You will have to read the meter like a standard meter and send these to your energy supplier. Or put up with estimated bills!
We have come across instances where the customer hasn’t been able to take readings from a smart meter. The numbers don’t make any sense. There should be a button which toggles through the display. Just take a note (or photo) of the different figures displayed.
These issues arise because these are first generation smart meters (SMETS1). They don’t run on a standardised system.
The next generation of smart meters
However, later in 2018, SMETS2 smart meters should be rolled out. The development has taken longer than expected, and the government has delated the rollout out from July to October.
These smart meters will all run through a secure network, and all energy suppliers will have access to this. Changing supplier in future will be a happier experience all round. Fingers crossed.
So… should I get a smart meter for my business?
We recommend waiting, if you don’t have one already. If you get a first generation smart meter installed now, there are no guarantees how quickly it will be replaced by new generation. Energy providers may prioritise businesses that still have standard energy meters.
So if your supplier calls to offer you a smart meter installation, we advise you ask them which one they will be installing.
Hang on until later in the year if necessary, it should be worth the wait!
Perfect Clarity are independent energy brokers and consultants. Our buying power means lower prices from UK gas and electricity companies to save your business money.