Energy smart meters - the pros and cons

Check out our complete guide to smart meters for everything you need to know about the new devices, from how they work to how to get your hands on one.

With utility costs skyrocketing and energy bills being a substantial expense, many homeowners have realised the need to upgrade to the latest "Smart electric meters". These are electronic digital devices that help to keep track of and record the usage of electricity in a home. The government plans to equip every British home with a smart meter by the end of this decade i.e. 2020.

*Between 1 July and 31 December 2020, people who have switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with Uswitch saved an average of £216

In fact certain utility companies like British Gas and First Utility have already begun to offer these to customers and these will help to replace traditional analog meters that need to be manually read, as they automatically record information and send it across to the utility provider. Like everything else smart meters have advantages and disadvantages, such as:

Benefits for consumers and the environment:

  • Helps to reduce power outages and tripping of electrical systems
  • Helps a consumer to economize to receive lower energy bills
  • Gives a homeowner detailed information about their power consumption
  • Since there is no manual meter reading required, it saves emissions from use of vehicles to visit a home
  • Helps to cut greenhouse emissions from an electricity plant
  • Is beneficial in maximising utility of existing power resources and obviates the need for new plants

Benefits for the power service provider:

  • Removes the need to have the meter read manually
  • Helps in increasing efficient use of power
  • Monitoring is easier and faster
  • Helps in determining price as per demand
  • Removes the need for building additional power units
  • Helps in determining power supply and reducing blackouts or outages
  • Improves profitability for the power company

However, some people believe there are drawbacks to these energy meters which may be taken into consideration when purchasing one. Some of the challenges for utility companies, the environment and consumers are:

To the environment and consumers:

  • Disposing of the old analogue meters
  • Consumers need to curtail power consumption or environmental benefits will be lost
  • The extra costs for the new smart meter
  • Verification of the accuracy of the device
  • Safety of personal data

Drawbacks for utility companies:

  • Having to ensure that customer personal data is secured
  • An increase in the budget outlay for related R&D and software
  • Storage of vast quantities of consumer data
  • Upgrading from old to new technology and systems
  • Convincing the general public and winning them over to shift to the new smart meter

It seems there are plenty of pros and cons when it comes to smart energy meters, and we'd love to hear what you think about the roll out of this new technology, get in touch on Twitter and let us know your thoughts.


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Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.