Energy provider British Gas are conducting a range of smart meter trials in homes across the UK in a bid to save themselves, and us, some dosh. Homes in Sunderland and Newcastle fitted with the new meters are being offered cheaper rates on electricity used outside the post-work 5.30pm-7.30pm period, when the nation does washing, cooks dinner and sits down to popular TV shows like the BBC’s ‘One Show’.
The idea is that the extra station capacity needed to fulfil demand at these peak hours is expensive to run, and so this expense is passed on to the customer. By spreading out electricity demand through the day, British Gas estimate that two power stations could be taken off the grid in 5-7 years’ time, a substantial efficiency saving which would mean cheaper bills for customers using electricity at less popular times.
Indeed, British Gas’ national trial is piloting the offer of free electricity in the 9am – 5pm slot on a Saturday. Though this is usually the time that everyone heads out to do shopping and catch up on other errands, it’s easy to see how people could make the most of this deal by running appliances whilst they’re out, especially now smartphone controlled appliances are becoming more usable and economical.
British Gas aren’t the only company looking to change consumer demand – EDF started a consumer trial earlier in the year to measure whether London households would focus their electricity use on days forecasted to be windier in exchange for cheaper rates, as this is when there is more cheap wind-generated electricity available on the grid.
The results of British Gas’ trials will be used to develop their new range of time-dependent smart meter tariffs, which are expected to be launched early next year. In the meantime, there are plenty of other ways you can save yourself some money on your energy bills – why not check out our Energy Solutions Overview to get a quick idea of the solutions that are available?