How smart meters can help you save money - Radio Kerry

Image audioImage How smart meters can help you save money - Radio Kerry

The Government has released a cost of living package to help those who are struggling in the face of rising energy costs and inflation.

Daragh Cassidy, Head of Communications at bonkers.ie, appeared on Radio Kerry to discuss the rollout of smart meters nationwide and how they can help you save money.

Take a look at the main points below or listen back to the interview above. 

What’s happening in the energy market at the moment?

It’s no surprise that energy is the big focus at the moment, with gas and electricity at record highs.

There were over 35 price hikes announcements last year and this year has seen more price hike announcements from major suppliers. 

Unfortunately, petrol, diesel, and home heating oil are also at record highs. 

It’s expected that prices will continue to rise later in the year, meaning next winter people will be faced with astronomical bills.

Food inflation on the rise

Food inflation is also beginning to pick up. We use energy to produce so many things, and with the price of fuel so high, this feeds into many other industries. 

Food inflation at the moment is at around 3%, but around 12 months ago it was running at around -2%. 

That’s a quick turnaround in a relatively short space of time. Some experts are expecting that inflation in the food sector will hit 5-6% in the next few weeks. 

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter reads your electricity usage pretty much the same as a regular meter. The big difference is that it can do that in real-time.

The standard meters people have in their homes are quite old and basic. 

You need to provide accurate numbers on your usage to your energy supplier every few weeks, and if you don’t, then your bill will be based on estimated usage, which can be wrong.

What’s happening with the rollout of smart meters?

There have currently been 750,000 smart meters rolled out and installed around Ireland. However, just a fraction of households with one are actually using them. 

Smart meters record the switch from daytime to night-time electricity. This can help save consumers money on their energy bills, but there’s an issue of consent. 

What tariffs are available for smart meters?

At the moment, people either have a standard meter or a NightSaver meter

With a smart meter, you can have time-of-use tariffs, which means you can be charged electricity at many different rates, depending on how cheap or expensive electricity is to produce at any time of the day. 

At the moment, there are 3 different types of smart meter time-of-use tariffs on offer:

  • Peak tariff: Between 5 PM -7 PM. This is the most expensive time of the day to use electricity.
  • Day tariff: Between 8 AM - 5 PM and 7 PM - 11 PM. This is the second most expensive time to use electricity.
  • Off-peak tariff: Between 11 PM and 8 AM. This is the cheapest time of day to use electricity.

You can learn more about smart meter tariffs in this blog.

Sharing your electricity data

Once installed, you need to consent for the smart meter to be turned on and for your data to be shared in real-time with your energy supplier. This is due to GDPR regulations. 

According to the energy regulator, the CRU, only around 10% of households with a smart meter have done this.

The idea is to encourage people to use electricity when it's cheapest.

Bord Gáis Energy and Electric Ireland have tariffs that provide you with free electricity for one day over the weekend. 

They’ve put a limit on how much you can use, but having a certain amount of free electricity means you could save yourself a lot of money. 

Do you give your consent to ESB Networks or your supplier?

ESB Networks is rolling out the smart meters and installing them. And then it’s up to you to contact your supplier and sign up for a smart tariff by giving your consent for your data to be shared in real-time.

You don’t have to sign up for a smart tariff when you get a smart meter installed. You can continue with your normal tariff, but households will be encouraged to switch over the coming months and years. 

Once you sign up for a smart tariff, you can’t go back to a standard meter tariff. When the smart element is clicked on, you’re on a smart tariff going forward. 

Smart meters can save people money, particularly with time-of-use tariffs. However, there’s a fear that people could be put onto a smart tariff that doesn’t suit them, or their electricity habits might change. 

Current limitations to smart meters

While smart meters sound great in theory, the issue is that you’re supposed to be given an app or an in-home display unit to get oversight on your usage in real-time. 

This will get you into the habit of using energy at the right times. 

Those apps unfortunately have not really been rolled out, and the in-home display units haven’t really been given to people yet. 

Another supposed benefit of smart meters is that you’re supposed to get smart bills, which give a more detailed breakdown of when you’ve used your energy. Again, people haven't been given those yet. 

There’s potential for smart meters and tariffs to save people money, but only if people know how they’re using their energy at the moment. 

The cost of renewable energy

At the moment we’re also in this transition to a renewable energy economy, which won’t come cheap. 

According to Eirgrid, around €2 billion is needed to be invested in the national grid over the next 10 years to cope with all the renewable energy we’re hoping to produce. This cost will be passed on to customers. 

Do people need to sign up for a smart meter to be installed?

There’s a planned rollout in place and all homes and premises in Ireland are due to get one by 2024. 

Covid has delayed things a little bit, but they will come to you automatically. 

You can ring ESB Networks and request one to be installed at your house ahead of the plan, but that might not work as ESB is working off a specific geographic rollout. 

You’ll receive a letter in the post a few weeks in advance, letting you know when to expect your smart meter installation.

Is there a fee for the installation?

The installation is free, but there’s a cost involved for smart meters which will be passed onto bills.

Electricity customers will see €5.50 added to their bill each year for the next 20 years to cover the cost of the smart meters.

If your meter is indoors will it need to be replaced or can the smart meter be installed outside?

Your current meter will likely need to be replaced if it’s inside. It’s a pretty quick process, taking around half an hour.

If you’re in an apartment block, you won’t notice it at all. 

Cut your energy costs on bonkers.ie

If you’re concerned about the seemingly never-ending energy price increases, why not consider switching to a cheaper supplier? 

Our free gas and electricity comparison tool makes it easy for you to review the best deals on the market from Ireland’s main energy suppliers in just a few clicks.

If you’re out of contract with your current supplier, you could switch and a discount of up to 30-40% off standard unit rates.

But why stop there? You can also compare the best deals available for broadband, insurance types and banking products on bonkers.ie. 

Take control of your household bills today and put money back in your pocket.

Take a look at our other radio interviews

Daragh Cassidy also recently appeared on WLR to discuss NightSaver meters and also discussed smart meters on a recent KFM appearance

You can view our full range of radio and TV appearances here.

Need any help?

If you have any unanswered questions about smart meters, let us know and we’d be happy to help. You can contact us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.