Smart meters are coming, whether you live in California, Camden or Canberra, but who will they benefit?
As ever, it depends who you ask, and opinions range widely; here are a couple to look at: Stop Smart Meters! Smart Meters Explained. If you like conspiracy theories read the first and if you’re looking for something more measured the latter, and if you can’t be bothered reading either then I think the best summary comes from the latter:
The big advantage of smart meters is accurate billing – no more estimates, and no need for you or anyone else to physically read the meter (so no more letting the meter reader into your house).
But consumers should benefit in other ways, too. It should, for example, be simpler to make accurate price comparisons and switch to a cheaper tariff.
The first paragraph is the reason they are being installed. The technology now exists to remove the need for people to read meters and to provide accurate bills. It would be stupid to carry on with the present system now that a better one exists.
The second paragraph hides a number of issues and we think is more interesting. Eventually we, the consumers, will have to pay for the new meters, in the same way that somewhere buried in our energy bills we are paying for the power stations, reservoirs, wires and pipes that deliver our water, gas and electricity. The government are keen to persuade us that we’re getting something for our money, but they are struggling and the best they can do is suggest that shiny monitors and apps telling us how much energy we are using will nudge us into using a bit less. That’s probably true, but we’ve had energy displays for years and they while they help they are not changing the game.
But the last sentence might point to a real opportunity for change. Smart meters can make more accurate price comparisons and with the right tool you could more easily switch to a cheaper tariff. For example an app that uses your data from your smart meters for your benefit and switches for you so you’re always on the best tariff!