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Gas & Electricity guide

What is a Smart Meter?

What is a Smart Meter?
Mark Whelan

Mark Whelan

Staff Writer

A smart meter is an electronic device used for reading gas and electricity consumption in real-time, thereby allowing customers to improve their energy efficiency and to reduce costs. Both energy suppliers and end users have live access to usage figures through smart meters, which will be introduced across Ireland between 2019 and 2024.

What are the advantages of smart meters?

1. Smart meters will ensure that you’re billed accurately for your usage.

You might be one of the many Irish energy customers who regularly receives estimated bills, which are based on the average consumption for a house the same size as yours.

ESB Networks attempts to send an engineer to read your house meter four times a year, but this often isn’t achieved (due to nobody being home at the time of the call-out, for example), making a estimate necessary.

Smart meters remove the need for estimated bills and help guarantee that you're billed accurately.

2. You won’t have to submit meter readings any more.

Smart meters have a two-way communication system, which means that both you and your supplier have constant access to your consumption levels.

3. Moving house will be less hassle.

Suppliers will essentially hold the ‘master’ keys to your smart meter and will have the ability to switch your electricity supply on and off. This will be helpful to you if you’re moving house or going away for a decent stretch, again ensuring that you don't pay for electricity that you're not intentionally using.

4. You’ll be able to see which appliances use the most electricity.

Smart meters allow you to see trends in your consumption and spending in real time. This up-to-date information is available to view online or through a mobile app and allows you to see exactly when it's cheapest to run certain appliances, and for how long.

‘Time of use’ tariffs' will also be introduced with smart meters to encourage you to move your usage to times with lower unit rates. This will help you to make savings and help suppliers to better balance their energy generation.

If this wasn't helpful enough, suppliers will even regularly send on ‘Energy Usage Statements’, advising you on ways to save on your energy bill, based on an analysis of your unique consumption pattern. How nice of them!

5. Improved energy efficiency is not only good for your pocket; it’s good for the environment too!

The less energy you use, the happier Mother Nature will be!

How much will I save?

ESB Networks and Gas Networks Ireland installed 10,000 smart meters between 2009-2010 as part of a trial to help them discover the best technology to use, and to spot any issues with the system.

The trial period showed that meters update consumption figures every 30 minutes and that average savings of 2.5% (or €50) can be made on annual energy bills. Some households that took part in the trial reduced their bills by as much as 8.8%, or €175.

When will I get mine?

In September 20,000 meters will be installed in 2019 around Portlaoise and Bandon areas.

The midlands towns include Portlaoise, Portarlington, Mountmellick, Abbeyleix, Mountrath, Durrow, Stradbally, Castledermot, Athy, Kilcullen and Baltinglass.

ESB Networks then plans to replace 250,000 meters between autumn 2019 and the end of 2020, with a further 500,000 meters each year from 2021 to 2024.

The Cork locations include Bandon, Macroom, Clonakilty, Kinsale, Blarney, Carrigaline and their hinterlands.

The roll-out of smart meters in Ireland is likely to be completed by 2024.

It’s a huge project that’s been running since 2007 and is likely to cost €1bn by the time it’s done and dusted.

What can I do in the meantime?

There are some things you can do in the meantime to improve your energy efficiency and make some great savings.

Firstly, you could get an Owl electricity appliance monitor. This will cost you about €50 and, by showing you which items in your house are costing you the most, it will likely pay for itself in a matter of months.

You could also get a NightSaver Meter. This will allow you to make some nice savings if you move a portion of your energy usage to night time, when rates are lower.

Finally, you could call us on 1800 930 255 to see if you could be getting a better deal. If it turns out that you are overpaying, we’ll help you switch too!

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