Why the secret to lower energy bills could be in your kitchen drawer

 (Unsplash)
(Unsplash)

Everyone has one of those drawers full of random things like parcel tape, drawing pins (why?!), mystery keys, watch batteries and other paraphernalia that ‘might come in useful one day’. I suspect that quite a few people have the secret to getting ahead of their energy bills in this drawer too – especially if they had a smart meter fitted in the last 10 years.

If, like many people with smart meters fitted, you placed the small monitor (known as an In Home Display (IHD)) in ‘that drawer’ then now is the time to dig it out. If you can’t find it, then all is not lost – just ask your energy supplier how to get a replacement (it’s usually on their website).

So how can this little device help? Most people receive their energy bills monthly – sometimes even quarterly – meaning that we have to wait a long time to find out how much the energy we have used has cost us. Unfortunately, most energy suppliers’ systems aren’t like banking systems – they don’t ingest data daily and provide a live balance. And with the increase in energy prices and the winter weather becoming more unpredictable, it can be difficult to rely on past bills to forecast future ones.

An IHD provides real-time feedback on the energy that you are using – whether historical data showing the last day, week and month, or live data showing current energy usage (and cost). Most IHDs also have a useful budgeting feature that allows users to set their own spend threshold and track their usage against it. Your energy supplier is required to keep the tariff information on your meter and IHD up-to-date so the costs you see should be aligned with the charges on your bill. This means you no longer need to wait until you receive your bill to know how much you’re spending.

As well as providing an up-to-date view of costs, the technology allows you to see the tangible impact that making changes can have on your bill, such as turning your thermostat down just one or two degrees. In my case, I was able to see how much energy my kitchen spotlights were eating up which led me to invest in far more efficient LED versions despite the up-front spend.

Many energy suppliers now provide online tools that use smart meter data to detect how you are using energy in the home and provide tailored recommendations on how to reduce it. A small number of suppliers also provide a live balance feature so you always know exactly what your account balance is.

So, go and rummage through ‘that drawer’ and make use of your IHD, or order a new one and make sure to log into your online account to see how you could get smarter with your energy use and make some crucial savings this winter.

Published by anthonyhayble

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