A while back I got confused between Smart Meters and Household Electricity Monitors. The latter are the gadgets that you can get to clip onto your electricity meter output wire and have a remote display are Monitors - more of them later in this blog and hopes for a project across the County.
Smart Metering on the otherhand is something the industry is planning and would install instead of existing meters. These provide monitoring for customers, more information and possibly multiple timed tarriffs and maybe even the ability to communicate with smart fridges (or special plugs) to turn off non essential appliances during times of peak load. More re Smart meters: www.energy-retail.org.uk/smartmeters.html and www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/energy/environment/smart-metering/index.html
Smart meters in some early studies using enthusiastic volunteers have shown cuts in electricity of 5% or more, perhaps worth £30 a year at today's prices, but a report by Frontier Economics suggests a much smaller figure of one or 2%. Is this really worth it? Probably not if that is the saving. However experience from around the world shows that smart meters and differential pricing can make substantial differences to energy consumption. Not that that is always popular. See more about Conservative policies announced recently re smart meters - sadly lacking any detail, costings or real analysis according to the article here:
Household Energy Monitors
Stroud Town Council already have 12 of these to loan out - see for example www.currentcost.com
Reading Greens a while back copied me in on a project of theirs to get the monitors in every library in the borough to help residents cut their energy use and household bills. The scheme would see the devices loaned out, just like books. The project was originally the brainchild of Lewisham's Green Party councillors, who have implemented the scheme in their area.
The device clips onto wires from an ordinary household electricity meter, and a separate portable monitor can be read by the householder as they walk around their home and witness the changes in electricity consumption, cost in pence per hour and CO2 emissions as they switch appliances on and off in turn. They have been shown to be incredibly successful in helping people to cut their electricity bills and CO2 emissions by showing exactly which appliances are expensive energy-guzzlers.
Indeed I've read somewhere that it has been estimated that an average household could save up to 150kg of CO2 a year by turning off unnecessary electrical devices - that is an important financial saving too. Here's what they had to say in Lewisham below but I have already written to our County library service a detailed email in the hope they might be interested in launching a similar scheme with the Eco-Renovation Open Homes project for this year.
Energy Monitor Loans from Libraries in Lewisham
The project was launched by Lewisham's Mayor on the 31st October 2008.
Thirty-six energy monitors (or 'smart meters' as they are also called) were initially put in Lewisham's libraries to be loaned out for 3 week periods. Library records since then show an average of 70% of the meters loaned at any one time, and we have now increased the numbers of meters available in libraries to 40.
The launch of the initiative was publicised in local media and posters and leaflets are placed in each library to encourage people to take advantage of the offer. The idea is that people can borrow a smart meter in the same way as they might loan a book, CD or DVD. In addition staff from the Council's Sustainable Resources Group have attended events at libraries and elsewhere to explain about the smart meters and talk more widely about the Council's work on fuel poverty and climate change.
A wide range of ages and backgrounds of people have expressed interest in the loans which suggests a fairly universal appeal so far. Feedback on the meters has been good in the vast majority of cases, with a few residents actually going to buy one at the end of the loan period.
The Council initially purchased 100 meters from Eco-eye at a price of £ 2593.00. The meters were chosen as the most user friendly and cost-effective of those considered, and the company were also able to offer corporate branding.
Alongside the library scheme we have loaned smart meters to Lewisham Council staff (50% of whom also live in the borough) and provided additional support in setting up the meters to a smaller group of residents as a way of getting direct feedback. This ongoing project will be assessed in more detail after 6 months.