10 million and counting – so how do smart meters work?

The UK’s smart meter roll-out is well underway. According to statistics published by the government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, by the end of March 2018 there were more than ten million smart meters installed across the UK, in both domestic and non-domestic sites.

But why are smart meters being rolled out, how do they work, and what does it mean for you?

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Why are smart meters being rolled out across the UK?

The smart meter roll-out is part of the UK’s plan to modernise the energy network which will improve energy efficiency, help us understand our energy consumption better and reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

The main benefit of the smart meter roll-out is the end to manual meter reads – no more estimated bills, and furthermore, better awareness of energy being consumed. In fact, the vast majority of people surveyed with smart meters say they’re better aware of their energy consumption and have taken steps to become more sustainable.

Higher awareness of energy consumption, and the UK’s shift to a smart grid, will also enable better integration of renewable technologies – meaning a cleaner energy network for everyone.

How do smart meters work?

Firstly, a smart meter need to be installed (all eligible Opus Energy customers can get a smart meter free of charge, if they would like one). Contact your supplier to arrange an installation appointment, and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Smart meters work in a similar way to traditional energy meters, registering the amount of energy you use. But, the key difference is that smart meters are capable of communication. They communicate in two ways: between nearby devices, and with your energy supplier.

In the first instance, your smart meters can communicate wirelessly with other devices in your property; a communications hub and any smart appliances you own. This communication will be via a Home Area Network (HAN), and for domestic customers, this will also include a smart display.

Secondly, your smart meters will then communicate your energy consumption to your energy supplier via the Wide Area Network (WAN). All the data communicated across these networks is encrypted.

The infrastructure for the HAN and WAN is being deployed by the Data Communications Company.

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And how much information is communicated?

Smart meters measure your energy consumption and communicate it directly with your supplier, eliminating the need for you to take readings. They are also capable of communicating other important information about meter functionality.

Smart meters record your consumption every 30 minutes, but it is entirely up to you when you share that information with your supplier. This could be as frequent as every 30 minutes, or once a month.

Only the necessary information is sent and is put under protection of a special standard of encryption to ensure the data sent from your meter to your supplier is safe.

Once your readings have been sent to your supplier, you will receive an accurate, up-to-date bill without the inconvenience of contacting your supplier to provide them with readings.

If you’re an Opus Energy customer and you’re interested in getting a smart meter fitted in your business, let us know here and we’ll take care of it.

 

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