climate change energy sustainability

Smart meters in every UK home by 2020

Some good news yesterday on energy efficiency – smart meters are to be fitted in every home in the UK by 2020. This is a good thing for a whole bundle of reasons:

1. You will be able to see your gas and electricity use in real time, and see what you are actually paying for.

2. and that means lower CO2 emissions. Research has shown that energy use falls 3-15% once people are aware of what they are spending.

3. That also means lower bills.

4. and lower costs for energy suppliers too, as they won’t need to send out meter readers, or hire banks of call centres to deal with customers (including myself) who have received over-estimated bills.

5. Not only that, smart meters can work both ways, so if you produce electricity through solar or wind turbines, you can sell it back to the national grid. Smart meters paves the way for more micro-generation.

6. A smarter national grid will make smarter appliances possible, and that will reduce the drain and lead to further efficiencies. For example, your fridge would be able to tell when demand rises and switch off its cooling mechanism for a few minutes. Ironing out the peaks of national electricity demand means fewer coal power stations on standby – a high price to pay for thousands of us wanting to run our kettles at exactly the same time as the credits roll on EastEnders.

Obviously it won’t be cheap to fit such a device in every home, and how it will be funded is an ongoing debate between the government, utility companies and consumer groups. Whether we end up paying for them or not, it’s a sensible investment.

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