Smart meters. Anything more than a con? Discussion

  • 14 September 2017
  • 27 replies
  • 6419 views

Userlevel 1
What exactly do these meters do that's so 'smart'?

More accurate bills? Not true. However the company obtains the readings they should be able to calculate bills every bit as accurately. An individual bill may be incorrect if readings aren't supplied on an occasion but it should be corrected as soon as they are.

More detailed information? Probably, but what are you going to do with it? Surely you use electrical appliances as and when you need them, not for fun. So knowing that your oven, kettle and immersion heater use a lot of electricity isn't going to stop you cooking the dinner, making some coffee or having a bath.

Quote: 'Live historical usage history . . . helping you reduce usage and save money'. How? with only two rates if you're lucky - day and night - the same on every day of the year you don't have much opportunity to move your energy usage around. The only way you save is to switch stuff off; you don't need historical data to tell you that.

No more giving meter readings? Not exactly a major task. More important to the company is that automatic readings from the 'smart' meter save them the expense of sending round a meter reader every now and then. No real benefit to the consumer.

Seriously, these meters don't actually do anything significantly new or beneficial for the consumer - unless you enjoy watching largely useless information on the free in-home display.

Why are we not being offered the true smart meters that have been around for more than twenty years? Programmable meters that can, for example, switch between six or more charging rates at different times of the day and on different days, like weekends, so that you can be offered cheap electricity when demand is low. Then you're genuinely empowered to save money by, where practical, using energy-hungry appliances at times of the day or days of the week when you know the rate is low.

Genuine smart meters offer numerous other benefits and definitely do enable consumers to save money and contribute towards reducing overall power consumption. On the other hand, as far as I can see, the gimmicks on offer in the UK do nothing of the sort, but are simply a con allowing the energy companies to pretend they are doing something for the benefit of consumers. Illusion instead of action.

Sorry, I don't see the point.

27 replies

What exactly do these meters do that's so 'smart'?

More accurate bills? Not true. However the company obtains the readings they should be able to calculate bills every bit as accurately. An individual bill may be incorrect if readings aren't supplied on an occasion but it should be corrected as soon as they are.

More detailed information? Probably, but what are you going to do with it? Surely you use electrical appliances as and when you need them, not for fun. So knowing that your oven, kettle and immersion heater use a lot of electricity isn't going to stop you cooking the dinner, making some coffee or having a bath.

Quote: 'Live historical usage history . . . helping you reduce usage and save money'. How? with only two rates if you're lucky - day and night - the same on every day of the year you don't have much opportunity to move your energy usage around. The only way you save is to switch stuff off; you don't need historical data to tell you that.

No more giving meter readings? Not exactly a major task. More important to the company is that automatic readings from the 'smart' meter save them the expense of sending round a meter reader every now and then. No real benefit to the consumer.

Seriously, these meters don't actually do anything significantly new or beneficial for the consumer - unless you enjoy watching largely useless information on the free in-home display.

Why are we not being offered the true smart meters that have been around for more than twenty years? Programmable meters that can, for example, switch between six or more charging rates at different times of the day and on different days, like weekends, so that you can be offered cheap electricity when demand is low. Then you're genuinely empowered to save money by, where practical, using energy-hungry appliances at times of the day or days of the week when you know the rate is low.

Genuine smart meters offer numerous other benefits and definitely do enable consumers to save money and contribute towards reducing overall power consumption. On the other hand, as far as I can see, the gimmicks on offer in the UK do nothing of the sort, but are simply a con allowing the energy companies to pretend they are doing something for the benefit of consumers. Illusion instead of action.

Sorry, I don't see the point.




Beautifully put
Agree 100%.
Why can't these meters also zero when OVO creates a bill so that you can see how much you have spent during a billing period.
It should also show history, for say the last 12 months, for comparison reason. Yes I know I can go onto the OVO website for this info. but why not make it available on the home reader supplied.
I have unplugged my reader and put it in the drawer. Saving on my electric now that it's unplugged.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Hi @barryh and thanks for posting!

Let's open this up to other users who have a smart meter - this is just what the forum's for!

@len salisbury @Steve587 @Gary @Maurice @Himmm @pjl286 @Gampopa @Pete632 @Ste2317 - if you have a smart meter, have you found it beneficial for managing your usage or costs?

From an energy industry point of view, smart meters allow the national grid to better understand the energy demand, and therefore tailor energy supply. This will save energy and costs!

Tim
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Great convenience. I am desperately looking forward to be upgraded to this new "Home Display" unit. The one I have is so basic and ugly........Please OVO, Update Me....thank you.
The one you get is not ugly but it is very basic when you think what they can do on a smart phone or very cheap tablet.
Poorly thought out as far as the customer is concerned but I can see the advantages to power generating industry.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
I eventually got a home display unit - only by contacting Tim at OVO direct, rather than be supplied with one automatically after having my smart meter installed a long time ago - but to be honest, I agree with others about the clunky, old fashioned display. Equally, I know we are not wasteful about energy use in the home, so I do not use the smart meter to manage costs and usage - the only benefit to me is saving having to read and submit readings monthly. For any information on usage/costs etc. I just go online.
Sadly, as someone who lives in a flat, where the gas and electricity meters are some distance from each other elsewhere in the building, I'm ineligible for a smart meter, so can't comment on their usefulness.
Userlevel 1
Tim,
Electricity generators and distributors already monitor aggregate energy demand with very sophisticated meters and analytical tools. Having the very basic information that individual domestic meters provide will not tell them anything they don't already know.

My point is that 'smart' meters should provide something practical for the consumer, and for my money programmable multi-rate tariffs are the most obvious. With these, the generators and distributors can give consumers cheaper power at any time when they know demand is going to be low - and there are many (predictable) times of the day and week when this is the case. Wow! They could even give the occasional present to consumers by programming special days - like Christmas day for instance - to charge a specially low rate for all the hours of cooking. An energy supplier playing Santa; now there's some good PR for you.

And what about encouraging lower overall consumption by having the meters automatically switch to a higher tariff if a household exceeds a given consumption level in any billing period? This is commonplace in some countries to give the advantage to lower-income people. Instead, in the UK, poorer people generally pay the highest rates for what little energy they can afford.

All this has been practical and available in smart meters for decades. The only thing stopping consumers benefiting from genuine smart meters is the refusal of the suppliers to deploy them. Presumably it is easier and more profitable to stick with the current highly inflexible and detrimental tariff schemes.

Sorry Tim, when I see energy-saving opportunities beyond just being shocked (no pun intended) by the numbers on your home display into switching appliances off, I'll start taking OVO and other suppliers seriously when they say they want to save consumers money.

Must try harder.
Userlevel 2
Badge +1
Looking at patterns of gas usage has led us to adjust our timer to heat the house more effectively. It has also allowed us to see how much of an impact different home improvements have made on our energy use. We could have done this with the old meter, but it would have taken a lot more effort. I also get a sense that OVO's estimate of our future usage has also improved since we got the smart meter, and this means we can fine tune our Direct Debit payments accordingly. As low energy users we'd been stung in the past by some pretty inaccurate estimated bills.

The biggest benefit for us though is being able to see how our electricity usage throughout the day coincides with with patterns of generation from our solar panels. Not something applicable to everyone, but very handy for us.
Userlevel 2
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Other than not having to submit meter readings each month it has made little difference to us. I think an in home display would help as it would be available at a glance. I just don’t have the enthusiasm to keep logging into the Ovo website to see what we’re using!
I agree 100% with Barryh. The only advantage to SM's is the fact that the supplier has even more information to allow it to save more money. Whether this translates to a saving to the consumer I am unsure!
The advertising for SM's is quite odd - One I love to listen to, (but only once a day) is about 'Mark doing a stir fry' - He is worried about control of his gas and electricity costs, but apparently after installing an SM - it seems to suggest that the same stir fry is costing less !!!
Anyway I'm cosidering whether to leave OVO and get something cheaper - there appears to be quite a few deals with quite considerable savings around! e.g. Toto energy.
We got a smart meter a few months ago and readings of our dual fuel tariff get recorded only for Gas. Not Happy. 😞
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
We got a smart meter a few months ago and readings of our dual fuel tariff get recorded only for Gas. Not Happy. :-(

There might be a delay updating your account @tippety23 - so MyOVO doesn't know you have a smart meter for both gas and electricity. Get in touch with us to get this fixed;

- Send over a PM via Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/ovoenergy/
- A DM via Twitter: @OVOEnergy
- Email us at: hello@ovoenergy.com
Userlevel 3
We had OVO smart meters installed some months ago, replacing the identical ones from Scottish Power when I changed supplier. I wanted to get on the V2G scheme, but changed my car from a Leaf to a Hyundai Ioniq, which is not compatible. The gas meter sends readings which are visible on the IHD, but the electricity meter stopped after a month or so. Repeated calls and emails to OVO have not got it working. Conveniently, the PIN on the meter has not been set, so I am able to try to pursuade the meter to rejoin the network, but it refuses. Since I already have my own power monitoring, this whole exercise has been a complete waste of Ovo's money and my time.
It looks like my experience is similar to others - I foolishly changed from Scottish Power because of their perceived incompetence, and Ovo seemed to be better. However it looks like you are all struggling with new technology. Not a good advert for smart metering! I am reminded of this because Ovo wants another reading from us.
Does anyone have any technical details about how the meters work, so I can investigate signal strengths, interference etc and try and sort the problem in the absence of help from Ovo?
Userlevel 6
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Hi @tony1tf - it sounds like you're referring to your handheld In-Home Display (IHD) device. If this needs reconnecting to the network, you just need to give us a ring on 0330 303 5063 and the team will be able to open the network and guide you through connecting it.

Hope this helps.
Userlevel 3
Hi @Nancy_OVO

IMHO you have not understood my posting here. I have already seen that the meter will not connect to the network, and OVO is requesting manual readings from me. When we first had the smart Gas and Electricity meters installed, the IHD was displaying both gas and electricity consumption. It then stopped displaying electricity information, and this coincided with OVO requesting a manual reading. The last phone call to OVO said that you would be watching to see if my electricity meter connected, but in 2 weeks nothing seems to have happened.
If you believe that the phone number you have stated above will get the electricity meter connected, then I will ring it, but I find that unlikely.
Userlevel 3
Hi @Nancy_OVO again

I have spoken to the OVO rep at the phone number you gave, and have been led to believe that this problem is with all Smart Meter 2 units. He tells me that a firmware upgrade for the IHD is being rolled out towards the end of Jan 2019 which will get them communicating again.
Apparently, in the meantime, my meter only communicates with OVO every 3 months (I find this hard to believe).
You might like to follow up on this and provide us with more details.
Userlevel 6
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Hi @tony1tf - that's right, if you have a second generation (SMETS2) meter, we're currently experiencing some issues with the information displayed on the IHD. We're currently testing a fix for this and it should be rolled out mid to late January.
Userlevel 3
Hi @Nancy_OVO

My problem must be worse than a simple IHD firmware update, since the OVO engineer is coming out this week to 'replace' my electricity meter. This may be because I threatened OVO with an energy provider change if the problems weren't fixed in the next month or so. I hope your SMETS2 meters aren't failing this fast, else it's going to be very expensive, and of course we consumers will eventually have to pay.
Userlevel 6
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Hi @tony1tf,

It'd be difficult for me to confirm without access to your OVO account and meter information. Based on the information you'd given, it sounded like the IHD issue which had been reported by a number of SMETS2 customers. If you're having the electricity meter replaced then you're right it does sound like a different issue.

Thanks
Userlevel 3
Hi @Nancy_OVO

If you want to look at my account, my number is *edited by moderator*
You will see that the usage graphs have only estimates for gas except for one reading last August, even though the reading history shows Smart reads for each month. There are now actual readings on the graph of electricity for Aug - Dec 2018 - readings given by me except for one smart read in Sept 2018.

The electricity meter is *edited by moderator*

Tony
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
If you want to look at my account, my number is *edited by moderator*

I've removed that account info, @tony1tf - better to keep that stuff private!

Us forum lot aren't the best people to reach out to for service requests like this. We're more of a hypothetical bunch.

For this to be checked, get in touch with our Customer Care team directly:

- Send over a PM via Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/ovoenergy/
- A DM via Twitter: @OVOEnergy
- Email us at: hello@ovoenergy.com

Come back and update us when there's any developments!
Userlevel 3
Hi Tim and Nancy_Ovo

Thanks for keeping me safe ;-)
The engineer came yesterday, and was worried about the proximity of the electricity meter to other boxes and wiring. However I explained that we were getting gas meter readings but not electricity ones back to OVO. Since the gas meter is linked through the HAN (Zigbee) network to the electricity meter and IHD, and it is the electricity meter which connects to the WAN (3g etc), then it meant that the electricity meter communications were OK. So he changed the meter and used the old communications module. We then had a false start because the meter didn't boot up properly, so there were no LEDs flashing on the comms module. A power off reboot fixed that and then he was able to send the meter IDs to the data centre to get the system working properly. So now I have both Gas and Electricity readings again being telemetered to the IHD and hopefully to OVO. Now OVO needs to sort out my usage page so that it can display proper graphs of my gas and electricity consumption.
Let's hope this meter lasts more than a month or two before it breaks.

Tony
Userlevel 3
Well, well !
The electricity meter readings lasted for a few days, but have now stopped again. I am just seeing gas readings on the IHD. The IHD displays a message saying "Elec data unavailable..." It seems we have another fault, not cured by the electricity meter change.
It's all very frustrating.
Userlevel 3
Any news on the roll out of a firmware upgrade? My IHD has occasionally shown both gas and electricity readings, but has now spent weeks with gas only. There are many discussions on these pages of individual problems, but I would like to see a proper statement by OVO of what they are doing to get all customers working properly. I'm sure the community would welcome a comprehenzive statement. If OVO have made a mistake by pursuading customers to get smart metering before the technology was fit for purpose, then let them say so, and what are the plans for the future.
I'm sure we are all feeling a lot of frustration. Along with Brexit, it's a miserable time.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
@barryh

Very eloquently spoken! My thoughts entirely, I've seen no real benefits to having a smart meter other than not having to give readings each month but I never had to do that with my old supplier anyway. As for any savings I'm just not seeing them. Like you I find the IHD more of a gimmick and I don't trust the information to be accurate anyway so why even have it. OVO have even told me in the past that the IHD is not as accurate as the smart meter so it seems pointless and just wastes electricity.

I'd like to see OVO create a video to show us all how to use the IHD effectively showing us exactly how it can help save money. For me personally it's just some random information which doesn't seem to tell me much other than the fact that I'm using energy.

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