When smart meters save money – and the overheating planet

<span>‘They can fit a smart meter in my home when they get a warrant,’ says one reader who is yet to embrace the smart meter system.</span><span>Photograph: Simon Dack News/Alamy</span>
‘They can fit a smart meter in my home when they get a warrant,’ says one reader who is yet to embrace the smart meter system.Photograph: Simon Dack News/Alamy

Recent letters about smart meters (14 May) reported some readers’ bad experiences, but it’s not all negative – our smart meter is allowing our household to cut carbon and save money. In combination with our electric vehicle charger, the smart meter allows us to automatically charge our car at times when there is less demand on the grid and higher renewable-energy generation. This helps balance the grid, and I only pay 7p per kWh to charge the car. This works out at about 1.5p per mile to drive.

The smart meter also works with our heat pump and allows me to pay 15p per kWh for electricity to heat my home. The heat pump’s efficiency means that this works out at about half the price of gas for the same amount of heat.

The future of energy is decarbonised and electrified, where consumers help to balance the grid and benefit from cheaper electricity as a result. None of this would be possible without smart meters. Like many major infrastructure upgrades, it seems that the rollout has been badly handled and some people are at the sharp end. But there are real benefits of smart meters for consumers, so let’s share the positive experiences as well.
Michael Wilkinson
Brockweir, Gloucestershire

• In the late 1990s, I was working for British Gas and on secondment to the national school for the use of gas in non-domestic markets. One course covered competition from the electricity industry and described maximum demand and seasonal time-of-day (SToD) tariffs.

The SToD tariff increases the price of energy to discourage use at times of high demand. Thus electricity is relatively cheap overnight in June, but very expensive at 6pm in January. My concern has always been that, if they work, meters that know what energy is used and when would facilitate the use of SToD tariffs in domestic markets, forcing those unable to pay to self-disconnect when they really need a warm home and a hot meal.

If the transition to an all-electric economy proceeds, many of the cables in our streets are likely to be too small, and the cost of upgrading them will be eye-watering. Those rich enough to afford solar panels and battery storage may be OK. Those at the bottom? Probably not.

For this reason, they can fit a smart meter in my home when they get a warrant.
Ian Culleton
Urmston, Greater Manchester

• I have been engaged with British Gas by telephone and email over several months, trying to get my faulty meters repaired or replaced – as well as crawling around my hall taking photos of meter readings. All to no avail – so I now make a standard charge of £25 for meter readings, and would encourage other customers to do likewise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, British Gas is in arrears with its payments.
Neil Macfarlane
Lowdham, Nottinghamshire

• I was contacted by a company that told me I should have a smart meter. “But I have one,” I said. “Oh! But we have no record of it.” “No. It is in the container on the top of my neck. Everything in my house has a switch – and when not in use it is switched off.” Not been bothered since.
Mike Wilson
Wigton, Cumbria

• When the alternative to smart meters was climbing 8ft up a wall every month to read the meters at the age of 92, I was very glad when mine were installed this week!
Dr Peter Jarvis
Bletchley, Buckinghamshire

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