Dubious claims about smart meters

Hi - you’ve been trying to persuade me to get a smart meter from the day I signed up. I’ve refused so far, and will continue to do so. The main reason is that - as an electronic engineer - I’m not convinced about the technology … and it seems there are many people on this forum who are equally sceptical. In any case, I have no problems submitting meter readings to you every month manually via your website.

But then this came through on an email today: “[Smart meters will] also help the UK’s energy system to reduce waste and the reliance on fossil fuels.” Perhaps you can tell me how the installation of a smart meter achieves this?

I’m guessing by helping people understand when they are using more power (and give them the option to switch to the “Smart off-peak/peak time” tariff https://bulb.co.uk/smart/ ) and therefore help spread the electrical demand on the grid over a much wider period of time (instead of peaking quite dramatically at 4-7pmish) meaning that fossil fuel powerplants don’t need to be “spun-up” for that time period to balance out the grid.

Thanks RichyB. I didn’t realise there was a “dual tariff” option. Pulling users away from the peak time through pricing incentives would clearly help spread the load … at least in theory. In practice, however, I’m not sure it would make a lot of difference.

For one thing, 5pm is traditionally the time when people ramp up their heating (even though they’re probably not coming home from work to a cold house during these times of pandemic), and most heating nowadays still uses gas boilers which contribute to global warming whatever time they’re used. On the electrical side, what are we talking about? Fewer boiled kettles or oven-cooked meals would make a difference to the instantaneous load - but are we really suggesting that people should being willing to move their mealtimes outside the peak?

I have a 4kW solar panel system with an instantaneous power monitor (home built :slight_smile: ), and try to do tumble drying on days when the sun’s shining to take advantage of the “free” energy. Even at this time of year, a sunny day can deliver 2500 to 3000 watts for some hours which will easily power the dryer. So apart from my gas boiler, I’d like to think I’m fairly green-conscious. I have my eye on an air-to-air heat pump for the future, but I’m waiting until the price comes down to something affordable!

But it was the expression “reduce waste” which I was most curious about in the above email. I can’t imagine what this might be referring to. Perhaps seeing the pennies tick over minute by minute might coax a few people to turn down their heating … but is this “waste”?

The way it reduces waste is so not too much electricity is produced. Gas can be stored so there is not much problem with waste but excess electric will be dumped to earth. If the power stations have a better idea of how much is being used at whatever time of day they can adjust production to create minimal waste

Hmmm. I guess that is a tricky balancing act. I saw a TV program some years ago about how power engineers had to respond to the instantaneous demand for thousands of kettles being switched on during the advert break in Coronation Street … :thinking:

Hello @Gaucho @RichyB and @Smart_fitter

Thank you for a really interesting thread, we are just going to jump in here on this.

With a better understanding of your usage, it’s easier to see where you can make small changes to reduce your energy consumption and lower your energy emissions. This leads to lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint, this is a quote from Smart Energy GB

Using Smart meters also allows the grid to forecast energy consumption.

If you wanted 5 tips to how SMART will help the UK in the coming years you can check here

On Thursday we’re doing a Q&A with Rob who works for Smart Energy GB who will be here to answer any questions or queries you have about the smart meter rollout! Watch this space then and feel free to ask any smart meter questions you have.


Cheers Carl. I might look in on that … just to see what all the fuss is about!!