Smart meter explained: how to be in control of your energy

By Mara Oct 28, 2021

Smart meters put you in control of your energy

Today’s technology has come so far, and when talking about exciting developments, we cannot forget the smart meter. Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters, keeping track of how much gas and electricity you are using in near real-time. They are also a vital tool for decarbonising our energy system, as they enable dynamic time-of-use tariffs, revolutionising the way consumers use electricity.

Smart meters are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost to replace the traditional meters.

How do smart meters work?

Unlike traditional meters, which simply register a running total of energy used, smart meters can record half-hourly price and consumption data —​​ crucial for enabling more flexibility services. The smart meter shows a digital meter reading and uses a secure smart data network to automatically and wirelessly send the readings to your energy supplier. That means you will receive accurate, not estimated bills without needing to take a manual reading.

Smart meters come with an In-Home Display (IHD) which shows households their energy use in near real-time, expressed in pounds and pence.

How can I get a smart meter?

The UK mandated the fitting of smart meters from 2016, though consumers have no obligation to replace existing meters. Gas and electricity suppliers are responsible for providing and fitting smart meters for everyone in Britain by the end of 2025.

Your energy supplier will be in touch when your smart meter is ready to be installed. If your supplier uses third-party installers, they will have to let you know who they are and when the installation is scheduled. Households will not be charged for the installation.

Is my data safe?

The data your smart meter captures about your energy usage is strongly protected by law.
Smart meters were designed in consultation with the UK’s top security experts and can only measure the amount of energy you use.

Why should I get a smart meter?

Smart meters put consumers in control of their energy use and are a very useful tool to save money on your energy bills while supporting the decarbonisation of our electricity system. By seeing exactly and in near real-time how much energy you are using and what you are spending, you can become more aware of your energy habits. This will enable you to make changes to make your household more energy-efficient and reduce your energy consumption.

Moreover, from the moment your smart meter is installed, you are helping decrease our carbon emissions as a nation – even without making changes at home to use less energy. This is because smart meters are the foundation of a smarter energy system, offering access to dynamic time-of-use tariffs. These tariffs encourage customers to use energy at off-peak times, therefore playing a significant role in reducing demand and lessening the pressure on UK energy infrastructure.

So, do I need a smart meter for a time-of-use tariff? How do time-of-use tariffs work?

Yes! Time of use tariffs only work with homes that have a smart meter installed.

A time-of-use tariff is an electricity tariff where energy suppliers offer different prices at different times of the day. The price differences correspond to changes in demand for electricity, referred to as peak (generally 4-7pm, when more people are using electricity) or off-peak periods. Time-of-use tariffs can be static, with set peak and off-peak slots each day; or dynamic, with prices varying up to every half-hour.

Time-of-use tariffs have been introduced to take pressure off the grid by using energy at off-peak times. These types of tariffs encourage customers to use energy when there is less demand on the grid, so rather than paying a flat rate for your electricity, the price you pay reflects the wholesale price of the energy when you use it.

It is a win-win situation. Energy companies offer lower prices at off-peak times to better manage demand, and customers can lower their bills by shifting electricity usage outside of peak times and being rewarded for their efforts.

How do I make the most of my time-of-use tariff?

The main potential flaw of time-of-use tariffs in terms of reducing pressure on the grid is that they require consumer behaviour changes.

However, the ongoing development of battery storage technology will prove pivotal in capitalising on the potential of time-of-use tariffs. By installing smart energy storage in combination with time-of-use tariffs, you can ensure that your battery is charged when there is a lot of renewable energy generated and when energy prices are at their lowest. You can then use this energy later when energy generation is lower, and electricity prices are high.
In this way, customers who have a battery installed can become less reliant on national energy supplies and save money by avoiding purchasing energy when costs are at their highest.

On Moixa optimised batteries, this optimisation with time-of-use tariffs is carried out by our GridShare software, which will create a charging plan to cover your household’s electricity needs using the greatest amount of solar and low-cost grid energy available.

If you are on a time-of-use tariff, GridShare is especially beneficial over winter months, when less solar is available. The software enables you to store energy from the grid when the prices and carbon intensity are low, so you can use it at peak times to maximise your savings and support more renewable energy on the grid to alleviate its pressure.

More on how you can capitalise on your time-of-use tariff with Moixa’s GridShare software can be found on our blog.