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Smart Monitoring Systems to improve efficiencies in the home

A major step is being taken by the government to reduce our country's carbon footprint - the installation of smart meters in over 30 million homes and businesses across the U.K. The government is hoping that this project will be completed by 2020 and they estimate that it will not only lower carbon emissions but that the benefits will exceed £7.3 billion over and above the estimated cost of the £11.3 billion programme.

You may be wondering - what are smart meters?

Smart meters work in the same way as traditional meters but they have the added advantage of being able to provide 2-way communication between you and your energy supplier so will you will receive no more nasty shocks in the form of estimated bills.

All customers will be offered the option of an in- home display (IHD). This will enable you  to see how much energy you are using on a day to day basis. There will also be historical information about your energy usage available so you will be able to compare current use to past use. This information will be shown as an amount of money and you will then be able to monitor your own energy usage in real time and adapt your usage accordingly. In this way consumers should be able to lower their energy consumption, reduce their carbon footprint and save money. It will also be easier to switch suppliers.

You will not have to pay upfront for your new smart meter as the cost will be recouped over time from your bills. Vulnerable customers will be protected and it is anticipated that meters with larger buttons, which are easier to use, will be provided for elderly and disabled people. It is also anticipated that Braille meters will be available for those customers who have sight problems and  the new meters may even have the option of a display in a different language.

The government estimates an average saving to households with smart meters of £23 per year by 2020 on combined gas and electricity bills but some households may save much more.

Another possible way customers may save is that it is anticipated that the smart meters may be able to talk to other smart appliances in the home possibly switching them on when prices are lower so that more customers may be able to benefit from off-peak prices on electricity.

This government initiative is a welcome addition to its Green Deal policy and should benefit consumers as well as having  positive impact on the environment.