Smarter energy: what are you waiting for?
PUBLISHED: 07:21 31 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:45 04 November 2019
They bring a host of benefits, so why not take the simple step of upgrading to a smart meter?
Creating a more efficient energy landscape, with financial savings and the chance to avoid waste - what's not to love about the smart technology that's helping to make it all happen?
More than 400,000 smart meters are being installed each month in homes and small businesses throughout Great Britain. They will eventually replace around 53 million old analogue meters, resulting in more accurate bills - no more nasty surprises - and helping us to keep an eye on our energy use.
They'll also help the people who distribute our energy stay on top of annoying things like power cuts, so they can repair problems faster and far more efficiently.
A modern, smart energy system could save the country up to £40 billion over the coming decades.
Yet questions persist about how smart meters work, the information they gather and how they might be used.
Smart meters have been rigorously tested and exceed every UK and EU safety standard. Concerns over their impact on health have also been debunked; Public Health England says exposure to radio waves from smart meters is one million times lower than international safety guidelines and many times lower than that from Wi-Fi and mobile phones.
Even the straight-forward process of having one fitted brings benefits. Since the beginning of 2017, smart meter installers have identified more than 450,000 existing faults in people's homes - from defective wiring to boiler problems - some of them potentially life-threatening if they hadn't been found.
Every step on the smart meter journey has been scrutinised to ensure they work well.
Once installed, many people - like householder Carly Cairns - have discovered the benefits of smart meters.
"I got it six months ago. Bills were rising and it seemed like a better way to keep track of gas and electricity usage," she said.
"It's currently sitting on a side table in the living room, so it's in clear view."
She checks gas and electricity usage and sees how it tots up by the day, week, month and even her annual total bill.
"It's easy to check daily, it's very clear to read and laid out well," she said.
It's also made her conscious of her energy use - and more likely to take action to make sure she keeps it in check.
Research (link to https://www.smartenergygb.org/en/resources/press-centre/press-releases-folder/smart-energy-outlook-oct18) has shown 81 per cent of people with smart meters have taken at least one step to reduce their energy use. And over 70 per cent would recommend a smart meter to a friend or relative.
Getting one just involves having a chat with your energy supplier.
Carly agrees: "I would definitely recommend it. It's a great way to find out where all the money is going, and save some instead."
Smart Energy GB is the government backed organisation tasked with informing Great Britain about the benefits of the smart meter rollout.
Green energy hacks!
Milton Keynes was the UK's first Go Ultra Low City. That puts the city at the front of the electric vehicle revolution. You could fully charge your electric car for under £4, while hundreds of charging points mean you can 'fuel' up while you shop.
The Borders boast some of the loveliest scenery for ramblers, cyclists and train enthusiasts. Lower your carbon footprint, take a staycation and join the Borders Walking Festival, put your cycling skills to the test at Glentress Forest near Peebles or enjoy the scenery on board the famous Settle-Carlisle Railway.
Plans are being made for Birmingham's new pollution busting Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charge. That's likely to affect older petrol and diesel cars, lorries, taxis and buses. Get ahead by swapping to an electric vehicle, plan a car share commute or hop on your bike instead.
It takes more than 1 million bulbs to light up Blackpool Illuminations. Are too many lights left switched on turning your house into a version of the famous light show? Lighting accounts for 15 per cent of a typical household's electricity bill. Replacing a traditional light bulb with an LED of the same brightness will save you up to £6 per year.
Save on your fuel bill and help support energy saving projects by checking out Southampton City Council's energy company, CitizEN. It offers competitive tariffs and any money made by the council-run company goes straight back into energy saving initiatives.
You could sit in a traffic jam on the M8. Or you could do your bit for the environment by swapping driving for the train. Electric trains run between Edinburgh and Glasgow every 15 minutes. You won't have to worry about parking costs - or finding a space - and no traffic jams!
Join the green revolution that's sweeping Dundee. It's been named as one of the most innovative cities in the UK for its approach to electric vehicles and Scotland's only Go Ultra Low City. Why not test drive an EV and see how much you could save by switching?
Newcastle has some of the worst air quality in the country. Instead, ditch the car and make use of Newcastle's car club, Co-wheels. Car club membership encourages people to think about whether they really need to use a car, or if public transport would be a better option. Most cities and large towns will have a car club or car sharing scheme.
We're famous for our delicious lamb and a warming pot of cawl made with lamb, root vegetables, leeks and potato will warm you up. Still chilly? Find out if your home is suitable for a new boiler, insulation or central heating. Nest is a government backed scheme that offers free, impartial home energy advice for Welsh householders.
Get important tips on how to save energy at home from the Bristol-based Centre for Sustainable Energy. It helps householders understand their energy use and become more energy efficient at home as well as developing good habits which can help save energy. Find out more at cse.org.uk
Join the revolution. Plymouth Energy Community has helped more than 11,200 households save over £341,000 in annual fuel bills. It also works to reduce fuel poverty and increase the amount of community-owned renewable energy generated in the city.
Feeling the cold? Yorkshire is famous for its beautifully warm wool. Pop on an extra jumper - or knit a cosy cardigan so you can stay warm. Do check out if your home is suitable for a cosy layer of insulation or even a boiler upgrade. Better Homes Yorkshire has lots of energy efficiency advice.