We’ve considered installing a smart metre from the time we moved into our house, but due to our remote location our providers couldn’t arrange for this, which in hindsight is a good thing and I don’t think we’ll install a smart metre until such time that the UK passes a law to do so. Here’s why.
Firstly, after doing our research, smart metres are proving (quite amazingly) to be less reliable and less accurate than existing metering solutions. Using smart metres, electricity providers have the facility to remotely disconnect your power supply via the Internet connection and there have been instances where failures in the communications or data handling systems has resulted in people losing power for hours.
The second point ties into what you’re paying for electricity. Smart metres allow electricity providers to introduce flexible tariffs in a scenario where the risk moves entirely from the electricity provider to the consumer.
Not surprisingly, electricity suppliers don’t want to be locked into day ahead, wholesale auction risk, and ideally want to sell electricity to end-users on a cost plus margin basis. In such a world, it’ll be nearly impossible for consumers to compare prices from different providers as tariffs will potentially be changing on a half-hourly basis. The best-value proposition will effectively be removed from the market.
As part of my recent research to find a cheaper electricity provider many suppliers are already punting half-hour tariffs, which, when you sit down and really think about it, is a very dangerous proposition. There is no set tariff and you’re paying a market rate plus markup to the provider every 30 minutes.
While this may not be an issue for everyone, we use a lot of electricity and we don’t want to be subject to significant tariff swings. If I want to do an electricity intensive task, such as turning on the oven or using a power tool, in theory I could be paying 15p/kW between 14:30-15:00 and then 30p/kW between 15:00-15:30 which will have an enormous impact on our utility bill, and I certainly don’t want to live in a world where I have to check our tariff for the next 30 minutes before I fire up the 1200W strimmer.
The convenience of smart metres has been overplayed and touted micro tariffs lack transparency, so I think we’re going to hold off and avoid any potential, unnecessary dramas.