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Energy advice

Updated on January 21, 2011

Money saver: Smart meter

Could advice and feedback be the answer saving energy in the home?

The building sector, when looking to increase sustainability, generally looks for engineering solutions to problems. This is understandable; you can say with a fair amount of certainty that technology X will save this much energy, because it has this U value of thermal insulation or that amount of microgeneration capacity. The problem being that, although a measurable cut in carbon saving can be made and money saved in the long term, they can cost a lot. For example, a project on which I am working has forked out the better part of £3,000 for solar hot water systems, just to discover they’ll have a payback of fifty years (plus) and save roughly 6% of a household’s energy bills. But there is something with no upfront costs which can save money and carbon, and that’s a change in behaviour.

There is a dearth in the academic literature on how a change in behaviour can lead to a change in energy use, particularly when compared to the volume of information on solar, PV, heat pumps and other renewable. But this information does actually exist!

A study by Groningen University (Netherlands) found that a saving of over 5% could be made in a household’s energy just by keeping the homeowner or tenant informed of their energy costs and giving a small amount of feedback and advice on energy saving tips. 5% might not seem like a great deal, but this would account for around an eighth of the target CO2 savings by 2020 for the housing sector, without having to spend big capital upfront – and remember, this is the same percentage of energy saving as the solar thermal panels on my modelled sample of properties!

However, such a scheme is difficult to implement, how do you keep providing a household with feedback on their bills and give face-to-face advice on a regular basis? Well, quite easily, it turns out! The one to one advice and regular reminders of costs from a researcher can be just as easily substituted for an electronic interface. Stick and energy “smart meter” on your bench and you’re away! In fact, smarty meters in trials have proved even more impressive than the personal touch. As much as a 20% saving can be made in households where smart meters are fitted, and all for around £25 – not too expensive considering you might save £400 in a year!

If you’re reading this blog (and you’re not just unlucky enough to have stumbled upon it by chance) then the chances are that the savings will be more modest; you’re already interested in energy saving. However, having had a bit of experience of these devices, you become completely obsessed with switching things off! Why not give it a go? After all, what’s £25?! Stick it on your bench and let me know in the comments how you get on!


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      Jimmy 6 years ago

      Yes I completely agree that having a smart meter really does make one completely more conscious of how much energy is being used or more to the point - how much energy is being wasted and can be saved by turning off non essentials - eg if someone wears a watch then why do they need a clock on their microwave or their oven to tell them the time. I think its rather like wearing a pedometer during the day - you find that you are constantly looking at it to find out how many steps you have taken and how many calories you have burned - you find that you are constantly looking to improve on yesterday's results - I did read an article about the way in which Smart Energy meters could change a person's view on their energy consumption in the Sunday Times a few months back - it seems these days we are all trying to make savings so my view is give it a go - every little helps

    • qwark profile image

      qwark 6 years ago

      ...if ya check out some of my "hubs" (this is not a sub-rosa invite to read my "hubs" lol), you'll see where my interests lie.

      I'll look forward to reading "sumthin" of interest ya write.

      Welcome aboard! :)


    • superwags profile image

      superwags 6 years ago from UK

      Ah well, I'll write something for you.... what would you like?

    • qwark profile image

      qwark 6 years ago

      G'mornin' Superwags:

      Thanks for becoming a "follower." (friend)

      I always read a "hub" by a new friend.

      I didn't find one that you've written that interested me so I'm just gonna use this space to let you know I'm happy to have you as a new friend. :):