How smart technology can make your life easier and save you money

29 September 2017

From smart meters to smart phones, smart technology can make everyday tasks simpler, quicker and more convenient, says Clare Maugham, Director of Policy and Communications at Smart Energy GB.

Many of you will have already have a smartphone in your pocket which enables you to communicate in countless different ways with people around the world, or a smart TV in your living room with built-in internet connectivity on which you can watch thousands of films through subscription sites.

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The pace of change has been remarkable. Smartphones and smart TVs only came into existence ten years ago, and yet they have now become part and parcel of everyday life. Many of us have become so reliant on these devices that we would find it hard to go even one day without them.

The smart revolution

This rapidly developing technology, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Some industry experts believe that thanks to smart technology we are on the verge of a fourth industrial revolution and predict that over the next few years we could all be living in a much more connected ‘smarter’ world.

It is, for example, already possible to have a smart fridge in your kitchen which creates shopping lists and allows you to access cameras remotely to see what food and groceries you might be running low on, while the cities of the future could see everything from self-driving smart cars to smart rubbish bins connected to a smart national network.

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More than a meter

One piece of new smart tech is something you don’t have to buy, and is simple to use.  Energy suppliers across Great Britain are upgrading old analogue energy meters to new smart meters at no extra cost – and 7.7 million meters have already been installed in all parts of the country.

7.7 million new smart meters have already been installed across the country.

Smart meters are easy to use and send energy data automatically to your supplier over a secure network so that you get accurate bills – doing away with estimates. They also come with an in-home display that shows you exactly how much energy you are using in pounds and pence in near real-time.

At the heart of this technology is a radical shift in how we buy, use and interact with energy. It's already possible to control the heat and light in your home using smart home thermostats and lighting control systems. But these are new pieces of kit that you have to buy and have installed, whereas smart meters will be installed by your energy supplier, who will make sure you know how to use them during the installation. All of these systems, working together, are giving us all much greater control over energy usage and costs.

Smarter living

Recent research from Smart Energy GB suggests that people of all ages do want more smart tech in their lives. Smarter Living: What consumers want from new smart energy products and services, gathered the views of more than 3,000 people aged between 18 and 81 via interviews, focus groups and online surveys and revealed a strong appetite for smarter living services among people of all ages and life stages, with almost 90% of people finding at least one smart tech option tested appealing.

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Each of the age groups had different needs and views on technology, but there was a broad agreement that technology had improved everyday life, with over half of people in each group agreeing with this statement. Importantly, age seemed to be no barrier to engaging with smart technology, with the majority of working people over the age of 55 agreeing that it had improved their lives.

The majority of working people over the age of 55 agreed that smart technology had improved their lives.

One of the respondents summed up the huge benefits that the new technology had brought to a generation whose children are increasingly mobile and on the move: “It’s the efficiency and security it can give you. It helps me keep in touch with my children, keep in touch with my family. My son lives in Australia now but he set up something on my computer before moving so now I can see him and my grandson every Sunday when we talk. So it’s different than just having a phone, the computer and the internet means I can stay close to them."

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Switched on to switching off

More than half of those in the 55-plus bracket agreed that technology had fundamentally improved their day to day lives. They were also keen to use services which helped them save time, money and do their bit for the environment. Technology which automatically turned off unused appliances was found to be particularly popular.

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Critically, the report also found that the national smart meter rollout was a catalyst for more connected living, with 70% of all smart meter users supporting the greater automation of household appliances.

70% of all smart meter users support the greater automation of household appliances.

The long-term success of smart products and services will, in part, depend on how well the creators of this technology understand the desire among consumers for practical solutions that can make a tangible difference.

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What’s certain, however, is that the smart technology revolution will continue to touch all of our lives for years to come.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.