Smart meters update – eat more salads…

The UK Q3 2020 Smart Meter Statistics Report is sobering reading. The data therein implies that the programme to rollout domestic ‘smart’ gas and electricity meters will be even later and more expensive!   Reading the report reminded the Badger that he had mentioned a couple of months ago his intention to install ‘smart’ meters as part of updating his home’s infrastructure.  Well, the meters have been in and operational for about 8 weeks now so it’s time to share some of the experience.   

Because the Badger sources gas and electricity from different suppliers, separate installation bookings were needed. These  were arranged on-line with just a few days between them, and emails arrived confirming the bookings and advising  that the installations could take up to two hours. The installers turned up on schedule.  The gas meter installation happened first. Energy supply was off for 10 minutes to physically fit the hardware and then the installer spent 50 minutes in their van ‘connecting to the centre’ to get the meter and In-Home Display working.  The electric meter installation was similar, but this time the supply was off for just 5 minutes. The installer then spent 2 hours in their van getting the meter and In-Home Display working! Both installers were great but obviously frustrated by how long it ‘connecting to the centre’, as they described it. 

So, how’s it been since? Well, the novelty of watching dials on In-Home Displays move when household devices turn on and off quickly wore off.  Watching the dials for a few days only confirmed what the Badger already knew, namely that boiling the kettle,  using the washing machine, cooking, and household hot water/heating consume the most energy by far. Lighting, media devices like the television and radio, and your home computing devices use much, much less.  Seeing what your energy is costing on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, however, is much more useful and a good reminder that loyalty to any energy supplier is never rewarded! In the last week, the In-Home Display began displaying ‘Connection Lost – move the device closer to the meter’ intermittently!  Powering it off and on fixes the problem.

So, from the Badger’s perspective, installing smart meters has been a largely benign experience. Does that mean he’s a convert? No. Why not? Well, the Badger’s wife put it rather neatly yesterday. She observed that our smart meters have really only shown that to use less energy, save money, and help the green agenda, we must drink less tea and coffee, eat more salads than hot meals, wear more clothes to keep warm, wash them less frequently, and take fewer hot baths and showers!  It was her way of pointing out that it’s disciplined human behaviour that brings about beneficial change, not expensive technology whose benefits are over-sold and under-delivered. She has a point.

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