Just 10% of 750,000 smart meters in use, says consumer watchdog

Devices record switch from day to night time electricity, triggering possible savings on bills

Just 10 per cent of the 750,000 homes that now have smart meters are using them, according to a consumer watchdog.

Smart meters record the switch from day time to night time electricity, thus potentially saving customers money on their energy bills. They also allow customers to monitor how much electricity is used by appliances.And they remove the necessity for meter reading or estimated bills.

Price comparison website bonkers.iesays the savings are smaller than many people would think unless they move to a time-of-use (TOU) tariff where electricity is cheaper at night than during the day. TOU tariffs are usually broken into three time periods: the most expensive is between 5pm and 7pm; the second most expensive is between 8am and 5pm and 7pm and 11pm; the night time tariffs between 11pm and 8am are the cheapest.

Bonkers.ie spokesman Daragh Cassidy said only about 10 per cent of people have activated their smart meters and are sharing their data with suppliers. He said a lot of suppliers have been slow to roll them out. " I'm hearing of many people who have signed up for a smart tariff but still have no real oversight as to when/how they're using their energy," he added.

“People can potentially save money, but it’s not going to be huge amounts. I wouldn’t want to mislead people by thinking there are hundreds to be saved every year. But if you can move your consumption to times when energy is cheaper to produce you can shave a bit off your bills all right.”

The Government wants every home and business premises countrywide to have a smart meter by the end of 2024.

Smart meters were originally encouraged by the Government to help bring down emissions in the home, but they have now become an imperative for many households given the dramatic rise in energy prices in recent weeks.

Prices climbing

SSE Airtricity has become the latest company to announce it will increase its standard household gas and electricity unit price by 24 and 32.3 per cent respectively from next month.

Electric Ireland, Energia and Bord Gáis Energy prices have also announced electricity price increases of up to a third in the last week.

Electric Ireland said 350,000 of its customers have had smart meters installed as part of the National Smart Metering Programme.

A spokesman said savings can be “difficult to quantify because it depends when customers use electricity and the extent to which they change their usage to cheaper times”.

He said the benefits of smart meters are apparent as Electric Ireland will show how much they would pay if they were on a TOU plan. “It’s up to them whether they choose that plan,” he explained.

SSE Electricity said approximately 9,500 of its customers have smart meters installed.

The company did not say how much customers can save by using a TOU plan instead stating: “All of our current offers are Smart enabled and customers can maximise their savings by adjusting their usage to consume electricity at times when it is more cost efficient to do so.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times

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