Smart meters – are they a money wasting con?

Written by

Lewis Morgan

Posted on

December 4, 2019

As Npower cuts up to 4,500 jobs in an effort to become “more profitable”, attention needs to be drawn to the UK Government’s Smart Meter Roll Out.

Originally it was planned that in 2020, all households in the UK would have a smart meter fitted that was promised to save consumers £34 a year, but not until 2034.

However, the plan has changed.

The deadline has been extended to 2024 and it’s also become more expensive. Originally it was estimated to cost £11 billion but that number now sits at £13.5 billion.

Who’s paying for it?

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“It’s apparent that the cost of the rollout is escalating, and the public are picking up the tab through their energy bills.”

“People will still benefit in the long run, but today’s cost-benefit analysis shows focusing on speed hasn’t worked.”

I take issue with “people will still benefit in the long run”. My energy costs are increasing, I don’t have a smart meter yet, and 2034 is over a decade away. I’d much rather a more effective solution.

Lightbulb moment

A standard 60w lightbulb that’s turned on for 5 hours a day at an average of 11p electricity charge per unit will cost £11.50 per year.

A good quality LED bulb running for the same length of time at the same charge rate, will cost £1.70 a year.

That’s a saving of £9.80 a year per bulb.

It’ll cost around £3 for a good quality LED bulb and on average a house has 10 bulbs so that’s £30 spend per household, but a possible saving of £98 per year.

Assuming 25 million households in the UK, the Government could fund LED for us all at a cost of £750 million with instant savings of £98.00 p.a. based on 5 hours usage per day.

Look at it this way:

More efficient bulbs will cause a dramatic decrease in energy demand, requiring less energy to be produced, thus less carbon.

Or look at it this way:

Rather than the Government spending £13.5 billion, spend £750 million providing LED lights to every household and have enough money left over to:

  • Build 50 new hospital wings at £90 million each
  • Build a hundred new schools at £45 million each
  • Employ thousands of nurses, policemen and teachers and still have a billion in change left over.

The message is wrong

Systems of major energy suppliers are not designed to process a high frequency of customers joining and leaving. This high frequency results in a demand for more staff which diminishes margins and can result in poor customer service levels.

The affiliate energy market encourages users to change suppliers far more often than ever, thus having a harsh impact on wholesale energy buying and forecasting.

All of the above is paid for by increasing your energy unit cost.

So next time you’re encouraged to switch, consider reducing your energy usage and not changing supplier.

Do you have a smart meter?

If you have a smart meter, we’d love to hear your thoughts on it and whether or not you’d prefer to have LED bulbs instead. Leave a comment in the box below.

4 responses to “Smart meters – are they a money wasting con?

  1. I see a flaw in your argument. You are assuming that most people are still using incandescent lamps; but it became illegal to sell them some years ago, and people naturally choose the cheapest option anyway, so, by now, practically everyone will already be using LED lamps.

    1. Thanks for your comment Joss. Interestingly, our recent energy survey suggests that most people aren’t using LED lights, and those that are using LED lights, don’t have them throughout their entire house. We will be releasing some results of the survey within the next couple of weeks!

  2. I found it great for the first week while we learned about power usage, and was gobsmacked! However now I am actively trying to have it removed. We forcibly had the meter but It needs two devices constantly plugged in and drawing energy, it uses two wireless communications (for the local link and data link to supplier), it takes up space and is yet another thing to worry about. All these millions of devices had to harm the earth to be created, and now I found out, being a gen 1 our current supplier does not support the meter anyway. The whole scheme is a motion of power, and it seems like other countries are also having the same issues.

    1. Sorry to hear that your experience of the smart meter hasn’t been good Macayla! Personally, I’ve managed to avoid having one in my home – fingers crossed it stays that way!

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