Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Smart Meters

From the BBC

"Despite consumers footing the bill, they can on average make a saving of only 2% on the average annual bill of £1,328 by the time the roll out is complete," said Margaret Hodge, the chair of the PAC.

"Even this is conditional on consumers changing their behaviour and cutting their energy use," she added.

And that's a bit of a problem with smart meters: what behaviour can you actually change?

There's a load of electrical devices in the home, but the biggest ones are the non-optional ones. The cooker, fridge, washing machine and dishwasher. If you choose not to use the dishwasher to save energy, you might as well have not bought a dishwasher.

You can say that a tumble dryer is optional, but people know that they use a lot of power and hang their laundry outside on a nice day. And this already has the incentive of producing laundry that's easier to iron.

The optional ones don't actually use that much power any longer. An LED lightbulb is 10W, LED TVs are now about 50W. Laptops around 20-50W (and those generally have power saving technology anyway). Even on the old incandescent bulbs, leaving one on for an hour was only costing a few pennies. With LEDs, it's almost irrelevant.

And yes, you could save money buying a more modern, more efficient fridge, but you've got a capital outlay to consider. A website I visited reckoned I'd save £19.73/year compared to a modern fridge freezer, but a modern fridge freezer will cost me £500. It's going to take decades to pay back.


microdave said...

The only way most people would make significant savings is by setting power hungry appliances to run during the night, when prices will be lower. Thanks to reduced spare capacity in the grid, variable tariffs are an integral part of the government push for smart meters.

As part of this plan "Smart" appliances are also in the works - these will communicate with the meter and can be programmed to only run when the unit price is below a certain figure, for example. I notice that Bosch are currently advertising a dishwasher which gives you the choice of a quick wash using more power, or a slower one using less. This is similar form of "customer choice", or getting people used to the idea that energy is no longer to be expected as permanently available. Other devices (fridges & freezers, for example) could be remotely ordered to shut off for short periods during peak demand, and then re-start when the supply was less critical. THAT'S the real reason for imposing smart meters on us.

Welcome to the third world...

Rich Tee said...

If the conspiracy theorists are to believed, it is part of a long term plan to give the government control over your power consumption. This will be done for your own good to "combat climate change".

Microdave's comment above does seem to reinforce this POV.

Mark Wadsworth said...

It's bullshit bingo.

We care about the environment in an abstract sense, and we care about our monthly electricity bill,s but decision making is on a gadget by gadget level.

There's a handy table here.

Cooking a meal costs about £1 in electricity.

Using the dishwasher is about 10p (plus 20p for the tablet?).

One load of laundry is 11p for washing machine + 33p for tumble dryer if it looks like rain (plus probably 30p or so for powder and softener).

etc etc.

All in all, not really enough to put you off using them.

PS, I prefer washing the dishes by hand, that's a personal preference. Get it done and dusted and out of the way.

Bayard said...

"The only way most people would make significant savings is by setting power hungry appliances to run during the night, when prices will be lower."

Does that mean that everyone will have "Economy 7", or will you have to pay more during the day if you want to pay less during the night?

Rich Tee said...

I have Economy 7 already and it's the cinderella of power supply. Each supplier has only one Economy 7 tariff, there are none of the special offers that ordinary users are offered, it's like it or lump it.

This is strange behaviour by the power companies if they want people to use more off-peak electricity.

Kj said...

Cooking a meal costs about £1 in electricity.

4,5 hours in front of the stove for each meal, and you still find time to wash the dishes by hand?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, I assumed that I use one oven and two rings for forty minutes.

For some reason, things always cook really slowly when I'm cooking them. And maybe boiling some water in the kettle.

My £1 was a wild guess.

I have calculated it properly and actually that works out at 35p.

microdave said...

@Bayard - It will go further than Economy 7. Smart meters will allow suppliers the capability of varying tariffs on a real time basis. Faced with a punitive rate at morning or evening peak periods you will be faced with paying up if your need is great, or waiting until the price is acceptable. Hence the push to do washing and drying during the night, and have appliances such as freezers, fridges & aircon switch off for short periods, as this won't significantly affect their performance.