There has been so much talk around smart meters over the past few months, though a lot of the conversation has been focused on how they can benefit renters and owner-occupiers across Essex’s residential sector. As a result, could it be that the opportunity for small businesses across Essex to keep tabs on their business gas and electricity usage have been overlooked so far?
How smart meters have grown in popularity
To begin to answer this question, let’s first look at how smart meters have become more popular. The government has set electricity and mains gas suppliers the target of making the technology available to every home in England, Scotland and Wales by 2020 – that’s 26 million households in total.
The aim of the government through this initiative? To phase out imprecise estimated readings in favour of up-to-the-minute digital energy usage recordings, taken by smart meters. These measurements are then sent directly to energy suppliers and used to generate fully accurate bills, based on actual usage.
Homes throughout both Essex and the rest of the UK are currently being fitted with smart meters as we pen this article. But crucially, it’s not just homes that are eligible. Run a small business with fewer than 10 employees? Then, chances are, you’re entitled to a smart meter too. If in doubt, simply ask your energy supplier or broker. If your energy bills are included in the rent you pay for your commercial premises, it’s the bill payer who needs to make the request for your smart meter – so ask your landlord.
The benefits for businesses which install smart meters
While accurate energy bills are sure to be eye-catching to employers, are there any other real business benefits that smart meters can provide? The short answer is yes, and these are just some of them:
- Get smarter with your energy use by understanding usage better
Smart meters’ display units are designed to show clearly the correlation between habits and energy usage. Are those 3 o’clock office tea rounds causing a spike in usage as the kettle goes into overdrive? Is your business wasting energy outside of normal working hours because computers are being left on overnight? These are issues a smart meter can help you identify and, more importantly, act on – whether that means investing in a hot water urn or reminding employees to switch off their machines at night. Developing a heightened awareness and understanding of your energy usage also makes you more likely to make smarter money and energy-saving decisions across your business.
- Bring energy usage into the 21st century
Smart meters are part of a much bigger picture when it comes to Britain’s future energy supply. Put simply, the long-term plan is to create a fully integrated smart grid linking different hardware, communications and other technologies together in something of an internet for gas and electricity. Smart meters are a crucial step towards this vision, which will eventually serve homes and businesses alike with greener, more efficient, less wasteful and more cost-effective energy.
- Open the door for innovative energy tariffs
Smart meters aren’t just there to give customers a better understanding of their usage; they help suppliers to identify usage patterns too – and it’s this kind of information that suppliers need to develop new, innovative and increasingly competitive tariffs.
- Say goodbye to nasty surprises…
No more projected bills based on estimated readings means no more nasty surprises, which in turn makes managing your overheads a whole lot easier – a big plus for small businesses.
- …And to meter readings
Manual meter readings can be disruptive to the working day – but having a smart meter in place eliminates the need for these. It does its thing, you do yours. Simple.
- See power cuts responded to at a quicker rate
As Britain’s energy network upgrades in line with the mass rollout of smart meters, energy suppliers will be able to respond quicker to power cuts in turn.
Steps to take to get a smart meter set up at your business
Getting a smart meter installed at a firm is incredibly easy for time-poor business owners. Once you’ve made the initial move of speaking to your energy supplier or broker (or your landlord, in the case of rented premises), here’s what will happen:
- Agree a time and day
Provided you’re eligible, your energy supplier will contact you to arrange a time to fit your smart meter. They will work with you to ensure this is a time that works for both parties, and causes minimal disruption to the running of your business
- Let your supplier in on installation day
A specially trained installer from your energy supplier will call round at the time you agree to fit your smart meter, so make sure you’re there to let them in
- Plug and play
Once they have completed the fitting, your installer will show you and your staff how your new smart meter works, and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Then you’re sorted! As soon as your smart meter is in, your business can start reaping the benefits.
How satisfied customers are with their smart meters
Customers with smart meters have displayed high levels of satisfaction from the technology, according to the findings of post-installation surveys. For example, the Smart Meter Customer Experience Study carried out in August 2017 by the government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy revealed that 80% of those surveyed were satisfied with the technology itself, while 89% were pleased with the installation visit.
Ready to join the smart meter revolution? Talk to your supplier today, or visit www.smartenergygb.org for more information.