Readers may have seen a recent TV programme that was highly critical of the energy smart meter “roll out”. Some of you may now be wondering why a nation that made a mess of the simple task of adopting a modern measurement system is now embarking on a complex and expensive technology project of questionable value.
One of our regular contributors has written to the Editor as follows:
“I know this is a consumer issue, but is there any case for bringing the totally dumb SMART meters into the site? So far I have seen the Scottish Power display showing gas in square metres instead of cubic metres, very smart indeed! Running consumption in pounds, not it seems watts and certainly not anything smart like joules. A very expensive, and as far as I can see, totally useless piece of technology for technology sake.”
As it happens, the Editor has recently had a smart meter installed for his domestic water supply. The meter has not been activated, but Thames Water say that by logging on to their web site it will be possible to find out actual daily consumption (in litres), and obtain a forecast of average daily usage (again in litres) and an estimated annual bill for water supply. From this information, it should also be possible to forecast the annual bill for water treatment. So far so good, unless your occupation is meter reader.
However, the TV programme was more concerned about proposals for the installation of energy smart meters nationwide, estimated to cost between eleven and fifteen thousand million pounds. It debunked the energy companies’ claim that these meters are free – consumers will of course pay through their energy bills. And it could find little positive to say about the reasons for the project or the justification for its enormous cost.
We would like to hear from readers who have had an energy smart meter installed.
For gas, how do you work out how much gas you have used and how much it will cost you? The meter presumably records consumption in cubic metres. The calorific value of gas is quoted in megajoules per cubic metre. In the past, a correction was applied on the bill both for pressure/volume and for the conversion to the units traditionally used for electricity, namely kWh. Does the smart meter make clear how it converts volume of gas to cost? And is it helping you to save energy, which is one of the justifications for that £11 billion bill?
For electricity, are you able to determine the power you are using at any moment? And does the display, like that for the smart water meter, give actual daily consumption of energy, and provide a forecast of average daily usage of energy and an annual estimated bill? And, once again, is it helping you to save energy?
In particular, it would be interesting to hear how a smart meter copes with different day and night charges for electricity. Clearly in this case, increasing energy consumption does not always result in increased cost cost – by moving usage to the cheaper period, it is possible to increase energy consumption while decreasing its overall cost.
And finally, does the SI unit for energy, the joule, appear in any of this? From the earliest days of domestic electricity supply in the UK, the unit of measurement has been the kilowatt hour, and this has be used for the calibration of traditional electricity meters. When domestic gas supply went metric in the 1980s, there was an opportunity to adopt the modern unit of energy for billing. But this was seen as a step too far, and gas followed the practice in the electricity supply industry. Have energy smart meters followed traditional practice and avoided the joule whenever possible?
Your answers please.