Smart meters are devices that measure how much electricity and gas you use. Unlike old meters, they don’t need to be read by someone visiting the house as they regularly send their measurements directly to your energy company. A bonus is that most have an in-house display that shows people how much energy is being used at any time. This is a useful tool to help us save energy as people can see the cost of devices in their home and can switch off things that don’t need to be on and are wasting energy. A smart meter doesn’t save energy on its own, but if we use it well it can help us be more aware of our energy usage and helps us make changes that save energy.
Energy companies can use smart meters to understand better how energy is used. This is useful for planning for the future. Most smart meters are ready for time-of-use tariffs: these price electricity differently depending on the time of day. The simplest of these in the UK is called Economy 7 which gives people the option of slightly more expensive daytime electricity and much cheaper electricity for seven hours at night. In the future we may see the cheapest electricity when the Sun is shining and the wind is blowing to help us make better use of renewable energy.