Smart meters hit the headlines big time at the beginning of this decade with a huge push by the then labour government on global climate change, environmental issues and reducing our carbon footprint.
The initial intention was for all households to have smart meter technology by 2020. This was considered such a hugely significant initiative that it was picked up by the new conservative government. It is no longer a “requirement” for all households to have smart meters by 2020 – there have been some pitfalls along the way – but it is a requirement that all households have been offered the option by 2020.
Smart meters record energy usage digitally and in real time, displaying usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) on a readily accessible and easily readable device. Both electricity and gas smart meters use the same technology as mobile phones sending meter readings remotely, securely and reliably to your energy supplier: data transfer must meet stringent government requirements and is protected by a most impressive Advanced Encryption Standard on a par with that used by banks. Information is directly available both to you as the consumer and to the supplier with no need for the submission of regular meter readings.
In the business world, this at the very least saves time but more importantly contributes significantly to a more effective and energy efficient business.
So, let’s have a look at a few of the advantages of installing smart meters on your business premises.
Advantages of Smart Meters for Businesses
- Business smart meters come at no upfront cost. That is not to say that they come for free: they are in fact paid for through our energy bills but that is an expense shared out across all consumers so not unique to you. Gas and electricity use is measured digitally, readings are sent to your supplier on an ongoing basis and bills you receive are both reliable and accurate. With bills no longer based on estimated readings, gone are the days of grossly under- or over-estimated energy bills arriving through the post. This in turn enables you to plan budgets and direct debits far more effectively as bills received are always current, based on real time usage.
- Smart meters are a great way to monitor energy use and efficiency. A recent review of smart meter usage by British Gas evidenced that 45% of business electricity use was taking place outside normal office hours of 8am – 6pm. Whilst smart meters do not monitor individual appliances as such, it is very easy to work out where the unnecessary energy “leakage” is coming from. Simple solutions such as introducing a staff friendly policy that ensures all lights are switched off when a room is unoccupied, closing doors and windows to retain heat, switching computers and screens to stand-by mode when not in use and even reducing the temperature setting by 1 degree can all impact significantly on energy costs. A smart meter will evidence those energy savings immediately. Not only that, in a world that is becoming increasingly concerned with global climate change, any reduction you can implement in reducing energy consumption on your business premises will have you doing your bit for the planet too.
- Installation is generally very straight forward: suppliers will come at a pre-arranged time to suit you and installation should take no longer than one hour. The electricity supply will only be switched off for between 20 – 40 minutes to enable safe installation of the meter by your supplier so there will be as little disruption as possible to a normal working day on your premises.
- Stringent conditions regulated by Ofgem are in place for all suppliers. The Ofgem approved Smart Metering Code of Practice (SMICoP) aims to ensure a high level of service by the supplier from the initial enquiry right through and beyond the installation process. Compliance by all suppliers is mandatory with the supplier retaining responsibility for this even when the installation is subcontracted to a different company. SMICoP offers full assurance that all meter installers have been trained and are fully accredited, scheduled visits take place, smart meters are correctly installed and tested, the user is shown how to operate the meter, communication takes place before, during and after installation and finally (and perhaps most importantly) that the supplier shoulders responsibility for fault resolution, complaints and feedback. With this belt and braces back-up from Ofgem, you need have no worries about rogue traders installing your smart meter technology and potential post-installation issues.
- Smart meters produce easy to read consumption data based purely on your business usage. Careful and swift analysis of this data will highlight peaks and troughs in consumption e.g. increased kettle/microwave use during lunch breaks. Staggering lunch breaks and buying A/AA+ rated appliances can lead to significant reductions in consumption during these periods.
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Whilst the roll-out of smart meters has not gone exactly to the government’s plan, over 15 million smart meters have now been installed across the country. With stringent regulations now in place through Ofgem, many of the initial teething problems have been overcome and the technology behind smart meters greatly augmented.
Having a business smart meter does not tie you in to a contract with any particular supplier and in no way affects your right to switch suppliers at some later date although you will need to check that your current smart meter is transferrable. If it is not, the worst-case scenario is merely that you might need to revert to submitting your own readings again. In this day and age, it is quick and easy and nothing like as onerous as it used to be in days gone by.
At Therma-Mech, we are your experts in electrical and mechanical services. From ongoing maintenance to bespoke projects, we can help you get more out of your commercial premises.
To learn more about our services and our approach, simply get in touch with our friendly team today.