Smart meters are a big part of our homes now, so you’ll struggle to meet someone who hasn’t either heard or read about them. So far, though, the talk has mainly focused around how they can help owner-occupiers and renters in in the residential sector. But, is now the time to focus on the opportunity for small businesses to keep tabs on their commercial gas and electricity usage? Here, with gas installation specialists, Flogas, we look into how it can help your business.
The smart meter revolution
Firstly, we should put into context the rise of the smart meter. 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.
So, what is the idea behind this? 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.
All across the UK, many homes have already had a smart meter fitted, but it isn’t only 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.
What’s in it for my business?
Of course, accurate energy bills are appealing, but will a smart meter hold any other benefits? The short answer is yes, and these are just some of them:
No nasty surprises
No more projected bills that have been estimated due to previous readings. This means no more nasty surprises, which in turn makes managing your overheads a whole lot easier – a big plus for small businesses.
Better understanding, smarter usage
The display on a smart meter is designed to show you a clear correlation between habits and energy usage. Are those three 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.
No more meter readings
Say goodbye to those disruptive manual meter readings. Having a smart meter in place eliminates the need for these. It does its thing, you do yours. Simple.
Faster response to power cuts
Energy suppliers will be able to respond quicker to power cuts as Britain’s energy network upgrades in line with the mass rollout of smart meters.
A 21st-century approach to energy
Simply put, there is a long-term plan to create a fully-integrated smart grid that links 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.
Innovative energy tariffs
Smart meters aren’t just used to provide customers with a better understanding of their usage. They can also help suppliers identify usage patterns too – and it’s this kind of information that suppliers need to develop new, innovative and increasingly competitive tariffs.
OK, I’m convinced. How do I get one?
It’s great news for all the time-poor business owners out there: if you are looking to install a smart meter, you hardly have to lift a finger yourself. 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:
1. Agree a time and day
If you discover that you’re eligible, you will be contacted by your energy supplier 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
2. Let your supplier in on installation day
Your energy supplier will send a specially trained installer to your property at your agreed time to fit your smart meter. Make sure you’re there to let them in!
3. Plug and play
Once the fitting is complete, your installer will inform you and your staff on how to work your new smart meter and answer any questions you may have.
And there you have it, simple as that! As soon as your smart meter is in, your business can start reaping the benefits.
Results that speak for themselves
Lastly, post-installation surveys have indicated high levels of satisfaction from customers with smart meters. 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.
Do you feel ready to utilise the smart meter’s benefits? Talk to your supplier today, or visit www.smartenergygb.org for more information.