Insights / Smart meters support Public Sector decarbonisation

How smart meters are the first step for decarbonisation in the public sector

23rd February 2022

To deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the energy sector needs a more flexible energy system. To achieve this, the UK needs smart meters in homes and businesses.

Smart meter uptake is encouraging so far, but to reach a ‘smart grid’ the UK needs more. The latest government figures state that 25.2m smart meters were in use in homes, small businesses, and the public sector in 2021. This is a great start, but Government targets for suppliers are increasing to meet the 2050 installation target.

How smart meters are the first step for decarbonisation in the public sector - Hero

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters replace traditional energy meters. They use wireless technology to send usage data directly to your energy supplier. This eliminates the need for meter reads and the margin of error that may exist in estimated reads.

How do they work?

The National Grid runs the UK energy grid, and they predict how much energy the UK will use every half hour. They use these predictions to determine when to increase or decrease energy generation. If there's not enough energy we get blackouts, and if there's too much it can damage power lines. This can be tricky since people only provide meter readings for traditional meters every month.

Smart meters measure your energy usage every half hour. Which means energy companies, and the National Grid, can better forecast and plan energy usage. This in turn means less energy wasted since the UK will know exactly how much energy to produce. It also means we can better manage intermittent renewable energy generation such as wind and solar. This also paves the way to integrate electric vehicles and smart appliances with renewable energy.

Finally, smart meters allow for tariffs that reward customers for using energy at off-peak times. There are already tariffs that cost less if you use electricity at night - they're pretty common. But, with the data from smart meters identifying peaks or lows of energy use every half hour there’ll be even more opportunities to benefit.

What are the business benefits of smart meters?

More efficient energy spend

Smart meters automatically send regular, accurate readings to your supplier. By eliminating the unpredictability of estimated reads, you’ll be able to see exactly how much energy you use and when you use it. As a result, you can understand your energy consumption, improve your energy efficiency, and you could save money.

Increasing your company’s environmental credentials

With energy usage data from your smart meter, you’ll have accurate benchmarks for future energy savings. That means if you launch energy efficiency measures, you can accurately measure your progress.

Plus, with our smart app you can get a full view of your energy usage and costs. Data visualisation gives you trend analysis and comparison tools. So, you can see exactly what’s happening with your business energy. You can even run comparisons over different time periods and across your sites.

Increases the availability of electrification

Electric vehicles are becoming more common within businesses. Which means it’s becoming important to have a cost-effective way to charge and run them. With a smart meter, businesses can assess what the best times for fleet charging are to maximise efficiency and reduce costs.

Bedford Borough Council used insights from smart meter data in their schools’ newsletter. By reminding readers to turn off heating and lighting during the holidays they reduced their energy spend.

“Smart meters have had a huge impact on how we measure, monitor and record consumption, cost, and CO2 emissions in our schools. We’re helping schools to use smart meters to their full potential, to identify high consumption and eliminate waste. There are various benefits of smart meters, these include using the true consumption for billing purposes, instead of estimated readings. This means bills are accurate and schools can see more clearly how they are using energy and take steps to minimise waste where possible”

Energy Manager, Solihull City Council

What’s the energy sector doing to help businesses?

In 2018, BEIS (Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) launched their Energy Innovation Programme. The programme aimed to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies. Of the £505m budget, £70m of this was for smart meter initiatives, including funding for non-domestic smart energy.

The Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition (NDSEMIC) aims to drive innovation in the energy services market. They focus on 3 priority non-domestic sectors: hospitality, retail and schools. It aims to help these organisations cut energy costs and be more energy efficient. Thus, enabling them to boost productivity and contribute to UK emissions reduction targets.

As a business energy supplier, we took part in NDSEMIC and promoted smart meters to the education sector. We partnered with providers such as Samsung to offer smart packs to over 50 schools. The packs had plenty of extras along with a smart meter, including educational content, IoT sensors, and classroom equipment such as computers and tablets.

Source: Funding for innovative smart energy systems

Smart app hero

Aside from this, for all eligible customers, suppliers are offering smart meters at no extra charge. They’re using these smart meters to help customers reduce their carbon footprint. Usage data via smart energy apps/portals can provide greater insight into consumption patterns and opportunities to reduce spend.

Customers can use our smart app for data visualisation. This gives energy managers a powerful and persuasive tool. They can use it to show decision-makers where they need to cut costs or change how they operate to tackle inefficiencies.

Smart meters represent an excellent opportunity for public sector organisations to become greener and more efficient with their energy spend. They can also enable opportunities to become carbon neutral.

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