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Smart energy meters: the smart revolution is coming



The roll-out of smart meters will empower customers and boost competition in the much-criticised energy market, writes Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB.

Imagine doing your weekly shop at the supermarket. You fill your trolley as usual, but when you get to the checkout, instead of a total price for your shopping you get a blank look from the shop assistant.

“It’ll be… er…. Actually, I’m not sure. I’ll give you my best guess at the end of next month – OK?” So you go home with your shopping and carry on running up a bill which you have no idea if you can afford – with your fingers crossed that you’ll have enough money in the household budget when an estimated bill hits your doormat weeks or months later. 

We wouldn’t expect this service in any other part of our lives, yet when it comes to gas and electricity, it’s an everyday reality. 

In July, the Energy Ombudsman reported that the number of complaints about energy bills has doubled in the past year, to a record high of 22,000 complaints in six months.

Following similar results from Which? and Smart Energy GB’s recent study, there is now plenty of evidence about consumer dissatisfaction with our current billing systems for gas and electricity. All this research points to the need for change. 

Thankfully, a smart revolution will be taking place in homes around Great Britain between now and 2020. During the national roll-out of smart meters, around 50 million new meters will be installed into more than 25 million homes in Scotland, England and Wales.  

These new meters will give consumers the information they need in order to take full control of how they use and buy energy.

Smart meters will be installed for free by your energy supplier, with no additional charge on your bill. You will be offered an in-home display which will measure and display your energy use in pounds and pence by the day, week, month or longer – so you can see how your energy costs are ticking up, and reduce your consumption if you would like to.

Visits by meter readers and estimated billing will become things of the past, because the smart meter will automatically send the energy supplier all the information it needs to issue you with a fully accurate bill. You will have all the information you need in order to find out if you’re on the right tariff or with the right supplier for you.  

We’ve spent the last year talking to people around the country about their experience of buying gas and electricity. Time and time again we hear about an information gap when it comes to energy bills – with so many people expressing a need for more information to help them buy and use energy differently.

When it comes to people on tight budgets, the issues are even more acute.  We have heard from many who have switched to pre-pay meters, even though these carry a significant price premium along with the inconvenience of having to top-up the key at the local garage or newsagent, because they felt it was the only way they could manage their bills.  

With a smart meter, there is no reason why you should pay more for pre-pay than by direct debit, and the technology will be far more convenient – which could mean that more people take advantage of the ability to pay-as-you-go, as so many do when it comes to travelcards and mobile phones.

Things are changing, and smart meters will bring a new era of better information, more empowered consumers and livelier competition between suppliers. This roll-out programme is an essential upgrade to the way we buy gas and electricity and will bring a better customer experience for households across Great Britain.

Sacha Deshmukh is chief executive of Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for explaining the rollout of smart meters and the benefits they can bring.

Further reading:

Energy complaints reach new record high

Ofgem calls for wide-ranging competition inquiry into energy market

‘Big Six’ energy firms admit to failing customers

Public engagement ‘essential’ to successful energy technologies

Energy UK launches guidelines to educate customers on smart meters


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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