Smart meter switch

Rising energy costs for UK consumers will only be eased by a switch to ‘smart’ meters, a Scottish energy firm has claimed.

Following the latest announcements of major increases by gas suppliers such as Scottish and Southern Energy, E.On and EDF, Alan Foy, managing director of the Glasgow-based UK Meter Exchange (UKME), says that often inaccurate estimated readings are no longer necessary particularly at a time when costs are mounting for business and domestic users.

Foy said: ‘The first step to controlling gas consumption, especially when users are confronted with massive price increases, is to ensure that you can easily see how much you are consuming.’

He added: ‘One of the key issues facing the industry is that the UK has an ageing meter portfolio with most being more than 15 years old, which means customers are given an estimated reading which can often be extremely inaccurate.

‘Estimated readings are the scourge of the industry and won’t help customers who are trying to efficiently manage their energy consumption especially in the face of these latest increases. Basic errors on invoices can also often be missed and lead to overpayment.

‘Modern meters, on the other hand, transmit a pulse which can be used to remotely measure gas consumption. This means that hourly reads can be delivered daily, weekly or monthly and energy consumption can be accurately monitored which makes it much easier to identify obvious signs of waste or other opportunities to reduce consumption.‘

Recent trials by the Carbon Trust are said to have shown that, on average, organisations which switched to using modern metering identified 12 per cent carbon savings and five per cent savings through reduced utility consumption.

Foy said: ‘In his last Budget, the chancellor outlined plans to roll out smart meters to medium and large companies over the next five years and Conservative leader, David Cameron has also voiced his backing for their use so it’s clear that there is strong support for this at political level.

‘Given the current state of the economy, it’s hard to see an end to rising energy costs so it’s vital that we look at better ways of measuring and managing our consumption.’