Get SMART: and save money

Energy prices are frequently in the press and Smart meters were on the TV again last week, in a less than favourable light.

Light switch on the side of a green money saving pig

So I’m sharing my positive experience of getting a Smart meter.

Smart meters measure the gas and electricity you use. They send this information to you on a handy display screen so you know how much you’re using all the time. No nasty surprises when your bill arrives and energy providers will fit one for you for FREE.

I wanted to pay less for energy – my lights don’t shine any brighter if I pay more and it’s one of life’s essentials. So using a Smart meter and monitor I believed I could understand and reduce how much energy I use.

It delivered on that!

Getting a meter installed

My energy provider confirmed that a Smart meter would work in my house – it doesn’t for them all – and scheduled in my fitting. They turned up bang on time, fitted it fast and checked out what I was already doing to save energy.  Good.

And I love a gadget! A Smart meter shows how much energy you’re using and has the option of different settings. I prefer the weekly predictive setting, my friend prefers the daily one – it’s a personal thing. All means you can keep your eye on what you’re using and that prompts you to use energy better.

That was a year ago.

How I reduced my energy consumption

Smart meter in and ready to go. At this point my usage matched my Direct Debit payment. Still more than I wanted to pay.

So I checked out my provider’s website and they have lots of ideas to save energy and therefore money. There was a nice quiz that I scored well in (smug) and some handy tips on energy vampires. I’m fairly savvy and the quiz confirmed I knew the concepts but the big misses were the obvious ones.

Lakeland 3 tier airer

Lakeland Heated Airer

I already have energy efficient lights and good insulation – got that sorted last year with a freebee from an energy supplier – thank you! And I’d stopped using my tumble dryer because I know that eats energy. I love my Lakeland Heated Airer and make the most of wind and solar energy (drying on the washing line).

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First job, change the central heating and water timers – what a gaffe that I’d never taken a few minutes to sort these out before. Why did my central heating go off an hour after I left for work leaving the house empty, and for that matter, why did it turn off well after bedtime? In fact, it used to annoy me that it woke me up sometimes. What a waste!

And I’m not saying anything about the water heater….

It took nothing to change the timers and this was my biggest saving. Also switching them both off when we’re not around, like summer holidays – am I the only one that forgets to do this?

I know I could save more if I changed my old boiler but frankly, the initial cost is far more than the monthly saving – for now anyway and we’re expecting to move. Let me know if anyone’s got a solution for this please.

Resetting my Direct Debit

Checking the Smart meter monitor on a weekly basis meant I could change my Direct Debit, and it felt good to see the monthly saving, fast reinforcing my good behaviour.

I also diarised to check it quarterly and my energy provider has switched me from half-yearly to quarter-yearly billing, so the email statement will prompt me to reassess my Direct Debit.

I’m in two minds about averaging out the cost and paying the same all year or changing the Direct Debit four times a year to match the season and weather. And it’s great to have the information and system to be able to make that choice.

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Bit of a problem on my latest bill but I’m left happy

It’s not all been straightforward. Some energy suppliers still send out a meter reader rather than rely on the information the Smart meter sends them. Unfortunately the meter reader checked my meter and I was billed two weeks before my monthly Direct Debit came out.

The result was that I was in debit rather than credit. It might not seem a big deal, it would level out over the year, but I needed something to acknowledge the changes I’d made – a big tick!  So I rang the energy supplier.

The customer service advisor was brilliant, reassessed my meter readings and bill and confirmed:

  • Electricity: Last year cost £1.52 per day, this year it was £1.05 per day in the summer. And £2.07 down from £3.39 for the winter months. £1.79 a day saving!
  • Gas: Last year cost £1.27 per day, this year it was 66p per day in the summer. And £3.03 down from £4.75 for the winter months. £2.33 a day saving!

What do they say about watching the pennies?  These savings add up nicely over a months.

My home comfort is the same. Heat, hot water and appliances are there when I want them. My lights shine just as brightly – just no waste.

And it does get a little addictive. I’ve stopped reboiling the kettle, regularly check things are switched off and no longer overcharge my laptop and phone. You know you’ve gone too far when the family ask “Shall we have the heating on as a bit of a treat?” Or when they’re winding you up about your new fascination.

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So, yes please energy companies, keep the costs down, get them lower if you can. But these small changes in my behaviour are in my power and save me money.

I’m happy with that and recommend Smart meters. I’m in control and using the online website have been able to compare my energy costs with other suppliers too to check out comparison prices because I know exactly how much I’m using.

So unless you’re like one of my friends who refuses to turn her heating off unless the tarmac on the road is bubbling, check with your supplier if you can get one for your home.

Even if you can’t, most of us can cut our own bills by checking our supplier’s website and making some sensible changes. Well worth doing as we head into winter.

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About Deborah Garlick

I'm the founder of Henpicked. I love reading the wonderful stories and articles women send us - I read every one. I've learnt so much and hope others enjoy them too. I believe life's about being happy and that we're here to help one another. And that women are far wiser than they often realise. I'm passionate about helping women live better lives by educating on the facts about menopause. I'm a Director of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace and one of the authors of Menopause: the change for the better.