How to Compare Energy Meters to Amp Up Energy Savings
In a time when energy efficiency is vital, energy meters take on a new level of significance. These devices play a pivotal role and can help you manage your electricity and gas consumption, get insights on energy habits, reduce your carbon footprint and make savings on bills.
In this guide, we attempt to unravel the complex world of energy meters, comparing their upsides and downsides to help you make an informed decision. We'll look at the key deciding factors and the types of meters available and investigate Government incentives that could sweeten the deal.
Understanding Energy Meters
Energy meters run 24/7, quietly measuring the electricity and gas we consume in our homes. These devices come in various shapes and sizes, but their primary function is always to quantify the energy you use in units: kilowatt-hours (kWh) for electricity and cubic meters (m³) for gas.
Not all energy meters are created equal, so understanding the available types is a good place to start finding the best value option for you.
These are traditional mechanical meters that have been used for decades, requiring manual readings. Standard meters are gradually being phased out in favour of more advanced alternatives.
Prepayment meters allow you to pay for your energy in advance by topping up a card or key. Some consumers enjoy this type of meter's control and use it as a budgeting tool, but they often have higher energy rates attached.
Many people now see smart meters as the future of energy measurement. They offer real-time tracking of your usage, sending the data directly to your supplier and providing you with accurate insights into your consumption. Energy providers can read them remotely, removing the need to submit manual meter readings.
Each of these variations has its advantages and disadvantages, so it's essential to consider your requirements before deciding. A smart meter might be your best bet if you prioritise convenience and real-time data. However, if you prefer to pay for energy upfront, a prepayment meter could be a better fit.
Factors to Consider
Choosing the best value energy meter involves carefully evaluating the key factors. Each plays a crucial role in determining which meter offers the most suitable and cost-effective solution.
One of the fundamental aspects of an energy meter is its accuracy in measuring your electricity or gas consumption. Accurate readings are vital to ensuring your bills are correct and fair. Different meters vary in precision, so choosing one that provides reliable data is important. Keep in mind that modern smart meters will typically be more accurate, minimising the risk of overbilling.
Cost and Installation
The initial cost of an energy meter and its installation can be higher than you might expect, depending on the type and brand you land on. It's crucial to factor in the meter's price and any associated fees when calculating the overall cost.
While smart meters may come with a hefty initial cost, they offer long-term savings through better energy management. On the opposite end of the spectrum, pre-paid meters may be cheaper to install but can result in higher rates over the long term.
Smart meters stand out for their more advanced features. Some, like real-time tracking, have the power to revolutionise the way you manage your energy consumption. Up-to-the-minute information on your usage helps you identify energy-hungry. Smart meters also offer insights into your consumption patterns, enabling you to decide when and how you use energy.
Meters and energy tariffs go hand in hand. Different meters may be more compatible with specific energy tariffs offered by your supplier. ‘Time-of-use’ pricing may provide lower rates during off-peak hours, which can lead to significant savings if you have a smart meter that allows you to capitalise.
Comparing Energy Meters
An important step of your comparison is familiarising yourself with reputable energy meter brands in the UK. While plenty of high-quality products are on the market, some have a stronger reputation for reliability and performance. British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, and Siemens are trusted names in this field, offering solutions for homes and businesses.
While brand reputation is valuable, it's equally important to gauge the reception of actual users. Customer reviews and ratings can provide valuable insights into the practicality and performance of various meters. Look for reviews on independent consumer websites, forums and social media to get a sense of the experiences others have had with the meters you're looking at. Pay particular attention to common themes in reviews, such as ease of installation, accuracy and the availability of smart features.
Conduct a cost-benefit analysis based on your unique circumstances to determine the best value energy meter. Compare the upfront costs of different energy meters, including installation fees. Evaluate the long-term operating costs, including energy rates associated with specific meter types. Assess the features of each meter and estimate potential energy savings.
You should also consider how well each meter type aligns with your current energy usage habits and goals. For example, are you interested in real-time monitoring or more concerned with budgeting?
The UK Government has put a lot of emphasis on energy efficiency in recent years, introducing various initiatives and incentives to encourage energy-efficient practices and smart meter adoption.
The Government has set ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions and eventually reaching net zero. In May 2018, the Smart Meters Act 2018 received Royal Assent, extending the Government’s right to exercise powers over the roll-out to November
In addition to the smart meter rollout, your supplier may offer energy efficiency incentives and rewards. Some offer reduced energy rates, loyalty programmes and cashback to customers who have smart meters installed. These incentives can add value to your choice, making it more cost-effective in the long run.
Installation and Maintenance
Once you've selected the best value energy meter for your needs, you just need to arrange installation and ongoing maintenance to ensure your chosen meter runs efficiently and accurately.
The installation process can vary depending on your chosen energy meter type, but you typically need a certified technician to professionally install a smart meter. You should be able to book an installation appointment through your energy supplier.
Before an installation date, make sure the area around your current meter is accessible by clearing away any clutter or obstacles that could get in your technician’s way. During the installation, feel free to ask the technician any questions, making sure you know how to use it properly.
If you have a non-smart meter that requires manual readings, make a habit of taking readings regularly. Regular readings will help you detect any anomalies or issues with your energy usage. If you notice any irregularities or faults with your meter, contact your energy supplier to report your concerns.
How Can I Save Money on Energy Bills?
Are rising energy costs making you look for ways to be more efficient and save money on your bills? At UKPower, we can help you compare gas and electricity suppliers to find the cheapest energy prices, switch to a better deal and cut the cost of your energy bills.
Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.