Get smart

Advertising feature / 22 October 2020

The smart money is on making our homes more energy efficient and tackling climate change. Here’s how a smart meter could benefit you and the environment.



The winter months are approaching, and as the central heating goes on, we keep our fingers crossed that it won’t break down during the cold weather, and that our energy bills won’t go through the (hopefully insulated) roof.

For older people especially, it’s vital not to stint on heating the home; nor should this mean having to make sacrifices elsewhere to cover the cost.

Smart meters are currently being installed by energy suppliers. Every home in England, Scotland and Wales will be offered the opportunity to upgrade to a smart meter, free of charge, during the roll-out period. These meters will replace the standard gas and electricity models, plus your installer will carry out a visual safety check at the same time to identify any signs of risk in your appliances. It will only take a couple of hours to complete the changeover with minimal disruption.

The big advantage is that you will be able to see on the display unit, in pounds and pence, which machines or gadgets are eating up power, and work out where you could make changes to save money – shorter showers, perhaps, or turning down the thermostat a fraction.

Energy efficiency for households and the whole country is part of a national strategy to upgrade our infrastructure, which is no longer fit for purpose. It is estimated that by upgrading, we could save, as a nation, £650m of energy waste. It will mean we can make a greener, cleaner future a reality.

The bigger picture

Last year parliament passed legislation requiring the Government to reduce our net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. This means achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. The goal is to rely less on fossil fuels – oil, coal, gas – that cause so much pollution, contributing to illnesses such as asthma and lung disease, and increase our use of renewables – wind, wave and solar power.

It has been calculated that if our homes were more energy efficient, 11% of the 2050 target could be achieved by us in our own homes. This is a big step towards a better future for us, our children an grandchildren. It’s one way we can all tackle climate change.

From the moment your smart meter is installed, you are helping to reduce the whole country’s carbon emissions. This is because smart meters are the foundation to a smarter energy system. By relying less on fossil fuels and thereby decarbonising our energy system, we can dramatically reduce Britain’s carbon footprint.

Smart thinking

It’s never been easier to switch energy suppliers, using one of the price comparison sites. By sticking with the same one every year, you may be missing out on better deals and lower tariffs, so it’s worth shopping around. There are currently discounts on offer to those with a smart meter or who are happy to have one installed. And just because one supplier does the work, there’s nothing to stop you switching to a different one later on for a better deal. With the second generation smart meters, your power supply will be interrupted only for a short time, and you will be on top of what you spend and where you could make possible savings. There will be no more estimated bills and you will no longer have to read the meter. Accurate readings will be sent direct to your supplier, and the display unit will tell you where you’re using most energy, and how it fluctuates at different times of the day, week, month or year. It’s free. What’s not to like?

Need to know

  • 15 million smart meters have already been installed in the UK, and of those: 80% of households say they have a better idea of where they are spending money 68% are more conscious of energy use 49% say it’s helping them to save money
  • Smart meters help the whole nation to use energy more efficiently
  • You can play your part in tackling climate change and creating a greener future
  • By 2050 our energy needs could double, so we need to conserve power now and use it more efficiently. It’s also the year we are committed to becoming zero carbon
  • It’s easy to apply for a smart meter. Simply ask your energy supplier when you can have yours installed

Energy saving tips

TV and computers

Leaving appliances on standby is hugely wasteful, accounting for around 10% of a typical home’s electricity bill; that’s £50-£86 a year.

Appliances

Dishwashers are more efficient than washing up by hand, but only if you have a full load. Use the eco programme if there is one. This also applies to washing machines, and setting the dial to 30° rather than 40° (except for bedlinen and heavily stained garments) will make a real difference. According to consumer organisation Which?, this could cut running costs by 46%.

Central heating

Turning the temperature down by one degree saves an average of £80 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

LED lightbulbs

LED lightbulbs may seem expensive, but they use up to 90% less energy and last 15 times longer than ordinary incandescent bulbs.

Microwaves

These are one of the most efficient ways of cooking, costing just £3 a year if used for 10 minutes every day.

Slow cookers

Slow cookers use minimal energy and are great for stews, tagines and curries.

Find out how to get a smart meter

Smart meter

The information in this article has been provided to Saga by our partners. Readers remain responsible for determining if this product is suitable for their needs. Saga does not endorse this product and cannot accept liability for any loss arising from the information herein.

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.