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After some delays and false starts, the Commission for Energy Regulation has revealed its plans to install a smart electricity meter in every home in Ireland over the coming years.
All EU member states are required to implement smart meters under European energy legislation known as the Third Energy Package. The goal is to reach a market penetration of 80% by 2020.
So, what exactly is a smart meter?
Smart meters are the “next generation of electricity meter”, according to the CER. They allow you to see exactly how much electricity you’re using in real time via an in-home display, a smartphone or tablet.
Your energy supplier will be able to read your smart meter in real time too, meaning that smart meters will end the need for estimated bills and calls to your home to take meter readings.
It is believed that smart meters will help everyone to reduce their consumption and therefore save money on their bills.
The CER is aiming to install 250,000 smart meters between 2019 and 2020, and a further 500,000 every year for the following four years or so.
So, all 2.3 million target homes and businesses should be up and running with their new meters by 2024.
ESB Networks will be responsible for the roll-out under, along with a steering group made up of the CER, the Department for Communications and Climate Action and Environment.
Premises that currently have old meters that need replacing (of which there is an estimated 700,000) and households that specifically request a smart meter will jump to the top of the queue for the roll-out.
ESB Networks will share details of the process for requesting a smart meter in due course. It’ll be interesting to see how much demand there is from the get-go.
Back in 2009, around 8,000 smart meters were installed around Ireland as part of a trial to test their effectiveness.
The results showed that households were able to reduce their consumption by 2.5% on average, but in some cases reductions of as much as 8.8% were recorded.
So, if the trial is anything to go by, you should be able to save money with a smart meter. The CER says that all households should be able to save about €20 a year.
By the end of 2020, the CER hopes to make a number of so-called "smart services" available to households. These include time-of-use tariffs, smart bills and access to historical consumption information.
Time-of-use tariffs, in particular, could help households save significant sums of money on their bills.
These tariffs will charge you a higher unit rate for the energy you use at peak times and a lower rate for that which you use at off-peak times. Since you’ll be able to monitor your consumption in real-time, it’ll be much easier to move your usage to off-peak times and take advantage of the lower prices.
Smart meters will also make prepayment electricity more manageable for customers and suppliers alike. It will be possible to pay up-front for electricity without the need to have a separate device or meter installed.
A yearly charge of €5.50 will be added to the network costs paid by every household for a period of 20 years.
The CER claims that the savings that will be available by having a smart meter will more than offset this cost, however.
The much-anticipated roll-out of smart electricity meters in Ireland will be a game-changer for Ireland’s energy customers and suppliers alike.
For customers, the ability to monitor consumption in real time could help many households to greatly improve their efficiency and lower their costs.
Smart meters should also bring peace of mind when it comes to energy costs, as well as the convenience of not having to submit meter readings manually.
Suppliers will no longer have to estimate bills and might see the roll-out of smart meters as an opportunity to introduce innovative price plans and pricing structures.
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