Technology.am (May 12, 2009) —The UK government has unveiled a plan to every household must be fitted with a “smart meter” by 2020 to reduce energy use.
Studies have demonstrated smart meters encourage homeowners to cut energy use by 3% to 15%. Smart meters will play a key role in helping the government meet its greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 34% by 2020.
The smart meters will send information on real-time electricity and gas use in households and small businesses direct to utility companies, and eliminates the need for customers to stay at home for meter readings or receive overestimated bills.
The government estimates that putting smart meters in the UK’s 26m homes could save customers and energy companies £2.5bn-£3.6bn over the next 20 years, but says, however it will cost more than double this to buy and install the equipment.
Energy companies welcomed the change, which will reduce their running costs by making meter readers obsolete and eliminating time spent on dealing with estimated bills.
“Bill payers have been suffering for many years from ever-increasing bills, so I hope the cost of the scheme – up to £340 for every household – won’t wholly be put at their feet,” said Scott Byrom, utilities manager at Moneysupermarket.com.
The smart meters make it easier for householders to sell wind and solar power they generate back to the grid, and they allow suppliers to offer cheaper electricity at times of low demand and increase the price when demand is high.
Ultimately, it is hoped that smart meters will allow the electricity used by domestic appliances to be “dynamically” managed. This would mean switching off refrigerators for a few minutes at times of high demand, or using plugged-in electric vehicles to store power. A government report suggested such “demand management” technology could save 2m tonnes of CO2 a year.