Can smart meters wind you up with paying MORE for your energy?

B0bbyEwing
B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,176
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edited 27 October 2023 at 3:32PM in Energy
I know all the marketing hoo-ha tells you how smart meters can save you money. Getting bombarded with that line ends up with people jumping to get them installed & keeps those pushing it happy.

But my question is can you end up paying more with them (or not)?

Right now I've no smart meter, obviously. The price is the price & I use what I use. If I want to pay less then I've to use less. All simple. Same with water - we're not on a meter for that either so if I want to flush after I've used the toilet then it's no problem because I'm not paying any extra for it.

Only recently did I learn on smart meters people are charged different rates on different times of the day. So the angle I'm coming from is for those on smart meters & smart tariffs, are your rates sky high, much more than they would normally be, on times where Joe Bloggs will be wanting to watch TV & make a brew (I'm talking 6pm-9pm ish on weekdays here)? And the cheap rates that get spoken about would mean you'd have to wake up at 3am to watch that TV show if you want to make a saving?


Obviously I'm being extreme to make the point. I'm looking at the possibility of getting them installed (energy company asked me if I have an EV - I don't & I'm a million miles off getting one as well) but what I don't want to do is shoot myself in the foot somewhere down the line & end up paying more for stuff because I'm using them during normal times.
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  • Netexporter
    Netexporter Posts: 1,040
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    But my question is can you end up paying more with them (or not)?

    I quite frequently get paid to use electricity on my TOU tariff.

    It is the tariff you use, not the meter, that determines how much you pay. 

  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,158
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    You can select any tariff with a smart meter, with a traditional meter you can be excluded from using certain tariffs. 

    As with any tariff in certain circumstances it may be better or worse than another but that's a combination of the tariffs terms and macro-economic events etc and nothing to do with it being a smart meter or otherwise. 
  • victor2
    victor2 Posts: 7,510
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    A smart meter on your existing tariff will cost you exactly the same as a non-smart meter, but should save you having to submit readings and eliminate the possibility of incorrect estimates leading to a large payment in the future - but you'll still only pay for the utility used.
    Smart meters give you a wider choice of tariffs, so IF you should choose a tariff that doesn't really suit your needs, you could end up paying more than the standard tariff. BUT, if you're able to choose a tariff that does suit your usage and requires a smart meter, it could save you money.

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  • EssexHebridean
    EssexHebridean Posts: 20,867
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    I imagine right now you are on the standard variable tariff, would that be correct? If so, when you come to get a smart meter, then that tariff just carries on as it is, no change at all. On a fix currently? Again - smart meters get installed, no change, doesn't affect things at all. If your current electricity supply is on Economy 7, or Economy 10, then you are already ON a time of use tariff - as many people across the UK are. Smart meters come in, and barring a little more complication about ensuring that the correct meters are fitted (which is as simply as making sure your energy supplier remember when the appointment is made that you ARE on E7 or similar, and then checking that the installer has the right type of meter when they arrive) then everything just continues as normal.

    What CAN happen though is that you get your smart meters, and you then discover that actually, for your pattern of use, your supplier has a tariff that would actually mean you could pay LESS for your energy - by load shifting for example. Load shifting can look different for different people - running washing machine/dishwasher when prices are lower for example, or slightly altering the time you have your cooked meal so you start cooking at 7pm rather than 6.45pm.  Even if on the standard variable you may be eligible for various promotions from your energy supplier - cut price electricity at certain times for example, or collecting "points" for various things that translate into money off your bills. generally, those sorts of promotions are only open to those with smart meters. 

    Regardless of meter type, it is perfectly possible to be on a tariff where your energy will cost you more than it needs to. 

    I know all the marketing hoo-ha tells you how smart meters can save you money. Getting bombarded with that line ends up with people jumping to get them installed & keeps those pushing it happy.

    But my question is can you end up paying more with them (or not)?

    Right now I've no smart meter, obviously. The price is the price & I use what I use. If I want to pay less then I've to use less. All simple. Same with water - we're not on a meter for that either so if I want to flush after I've used the toilet then it's no problem because I'm not paying any extra for it.

    Only recently did I learn on smart meters people are charged different rates on different times of the day. So the angle I'm coming from is for those on smart meters & smart tariffs, are your rates sky high, much more than they would normally be, on times where Joe Bloggs will be wanting to watch TV & make a brew (I'm talking 6pm-9pm ish on weekdays here)? And the cheap rates that get spoken about would mean you'd have to wake up at 3am to watch that TV show if you want to make a saving?


    Obviously I'm being extreme to make the point. I'm looking at the possibility of getting them installed (energy company asked me if I have an EV - I don't & I'm a million miles off getting one as well) but what I don't want to do is shoot myself in the foot somewhere down the line & end up paying more for stuff because I'm using them during normal times.
    Your sentence I have marked in bold is a bit "broad brush" - certainly some people with smart meters are charged different rates at different times of the day - but that is also true of those with traditional meters, too. 
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  • Only recently did I learn on smart meters people are charged different rates on different times of the day. So the angle I'm coming from is for those on smart meters & smart tariffs, are your rates sky high, much more than they would normally be, on times where Joe Bloggs will be wanting to watch TV & make a brew (I'm talking 6pm-9pm ish on weekdays here)? And the cheap rates that get spoken about would mean you'd have to wake up at 3am to watch that TV show if you want to make a saving?
    There's a key distinction here that you may have missed - The whole different rates for different times of day come from Time of Use tariffs which are only available for those on smart meters, but they are by no means mandatory or even the default option (Octopus is currently the only supplier with full support for a small range of such tariffs, most others don't offer anything quite as complex/sophisticated yet).

    This is something you would need to actively sign up and opt in for, in the same way you might sign up for a new fixed rate deal with your supplier.

    If all you do is get a smart meter installed and nothing else, you will continue to be billed in exactly the same way you are now and its functionality will be practically the same as your current meter (with the exception of it automatically sending your readings off to the supplier). The price of the tariff you're on will still be the price you pay, and if you want to pay less you'll need to use less - there'll be no changes there unless you decide that's something you want to change.
    Moo…
  • I know all the marketing hoo-ha tells you how smart meters can save you money. Getting bombarded with that line ends up with people jumping to get them installed & keeps those pushing it happy.

    But my question is can you end up paying more with them (or not)?

    Right now I've no smart meter, obviously. The price is the price & I use what I use. If I want to pay less then I've to use less. All simple. Same with water - we're not on a meter for that either so if I want to flush after I've used the toilet then it's no problem because I'm not paying any extra for it.

    Only recently did I learn on smart meters people are charged different rates on different times of the day. So the angle I'm coming from is for those on smart meters & smart tariffs, are your rates sky high, much more than they would normally be, on times where Joe Bloggs will be wanting to watch TV & make a brew (I'm talking 6pm-9pm ish on weekdays here)? And the cheap rates that get spoken about would mean you'd have to wake up at 3am to watch that TV show if you want to make a saving?


    Obviously I'm being extreme to make the point. I'm looking at the possibility of getting them installed (energy company asked me if I have an EV - I don't & I'm a million miles off getting one as well) but what I don't want to do is shoot myself in the foot somewhere down the line & end up paying more for stuff because I'm using them during normal times.

    There are smart meter tariffs out there to match different lifestyles and the equipment or cars they run.

    I can only explain our situation we are an all electric household with no solar no battery no electric vehicle but we do have an Air Source Heat Pump.

    For us we tried two smart meter tariffs from Octopus. Firstly we tried Agile. This worked ok but yes we did programme washing machines/tumble dryers and hot water heating etc through the early hours and we ended up with an average 17p kWh for the short time we were on Agile.

    We moved to tracker as this gives a rate for the whole day so you don't have to program things early morning and you don't pay a higher price 4-7pm. It's the same price all day.

    As I type this we are averaging 17.54p kWh since being on tracker.

    We were also able to take part in last year's demand Flexibility service and got paid a few hundred pounds. 

    On too of the above we also have an escape smart meter tariff available purely for air sourced hear pump owners which we have calculated we will save up to 20% off whatever the price cap is at that time.

    So it not only saves us money now but other money saving tariffs are available.

    And finally because Octopus are pushing out their innovative tariffs it can be seen that others are also following suit which could mean a little bit of smart meter tariff competition creeping into the marketplace.





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  • Qyburn
    Qyburn Posts: 2,077
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    I know all the marketing hoo-ha tells you how smart meters can save you money. Getting bombarded with that line ends up with people jumping to get them installed & keeps those pushing it happy.

    But my question is can you end up paying more with them (or not)?
    Only if you choose to. A smart meter gives more choice of tariffs, including those available to non-smart meters. So yes if you chose a tariff that doesn't suit your use then it could end up costing more. 

    Only recently did I learn on smart meters people are charged different rates on different times of the day. So the angle I'm coming from is for those on smart meters & smart tariffs, are your rates sky high, much more than they would normally be, on times where Joe Bloggs will be wanting to watch TV & make a brew (I'm talking 6pm-9pm ish on weekdays here)? And the cheap rates that get spoken about would mean you'd have to wake up at 3am to watch that TV show if you want to make a saving?
    Again only if you choose a tariff that charges in that way. We chose to switch to a smart tariff that doesn't, it's the same price all day at any time. Chosen because I thought we'd save, which we do by around 30% year to date. We could have stayed on the previous conventional non-smart tariff if we'd wanted.
  • Obviously I'm being extreme to make the point. I'm looking at the possibility of getting them installed (energy company asked me if I have an EV - I don't & I'm a million miles off getting one as well) but what I don't want to do is shoot myself in the foot somewhere down the line & end up paying more for stuff because I'm using them during normal times.
    At the moment you pay the same rate for all of your energy whenever you use it (fixed or the standard variable). 

    If you had a smart meter you could choose to go on the same kind of flat rate fix/stay on the flat rate variable (I'm currently fixed for 12 months)

    OR you can go on a fixed multi rate tariff (like the E7 arrangements people use for night storage heaters - so they have different rates at different times, but always the same rates and times)

    OR you can choose to go on a variable time of use tariff (where your rate might change every 30 mins). 

    And, just like you can now, you can change your tariff as deals come up or you change how you're using energy. 

    It's just an extra option that you can choose if you want it and it fits with your lifestyle. 
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  • B0bbyEwing
    B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,176
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    I thought my question was obvious. That's my fault then. So to have another bash at explaining where I'm coming from....

    I know full well that it's the tariff that dictates what you pay & not the meter. That's why I used the words "smart tariff" in my OP - because I was talking about tariff's tailored towards smart meters. Obviously if you had a 'standard' meter then you wouldn't be on a smart meter tariff. 

    I'm also well aware you could pay less. If you pay 50p a unit for every hour other than at 3am but at 3am-4am you pay 10p a unit & you choose to do everything in that hour then you pay less. 

    I was more asking about how these smart tariffs are structured since I've never been on one. 

    I and just about everyone I know use only around 6pm-10pm for weekdays for example as we're working & sleeping outside of that timeframe. So are these tariffs generally structured in such a way that you pay a ridiculous amount in this window & the rest of the time when you can't possibly use it (other than maybe programming a wash load), it's dirt cheap?

    Or do they vary wildly in such a way that some will do that & some wont?

    Which brings me on to - how do you even know? Are they broken down in a way where you can see the hourly charge before you sign on the dotted line so to speak?

    As right now I just have a look at the unit charge & standing charge & that's that - job done, easy comparison. 


    Ans for the question that was asked - yes I'm on a variable with Shell Energy. Recently (this week) had a look on comparison sites & there's nothing coming up cheaper than what I'm on at the moment, allegedly. 
  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Posts: 2,337
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    edited 25 October 2023 at 1:00PM
    I was more asking about how these smart tariffs are structured since I've never been on one. 

    I and just about everyone I know use only around 6pm-10pm for weekdays for example as we're working & sleeping outside of that timeframe. So are these tariffs generally structured in such a way that you pay a ridiculous amount in this window & the rest of the time when you can't possibly use it (other than maybe programming a wash load), it's dirt cheap?
    Does this help? It's the prices for Octopus Agile today in the East Midlands:



    Compared to last Wednesday:



    And Wednesday back at the start of the month:



    And, for fun, balanced by a Sunday in July where you could earn your weekly electricity bill getting all your wash done and cooking a spread for the family ;) 



    Obviously how 'good' the tariff is will depend on you - given a significant number of people work from home (and a growing number have electric cars that they can charge overnight), it really is a tariff that is good for some and not for others.  

    https://agileprices.co.uk/ (You can click at the top of the page to see the month in your region)
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