The truth about smart electricity plans

All news, Generation Green, News

21st September 2023

Smart meters explained with our smart electricity myth buster

Confused about how to get the most from your smart meter or wondering if signing up for a smart electricity plan is a good idea?  Check out our myth buster below to separate smart fact from fiction. 

Myth # 1: My smart meter is automatically 'smart'

Fact: You need to ‘activate’ its smart powers by signing up to a smart plan

When your smart meter is first installed, the only change you’ll notice is that your meter readings are transmitted remotely rather than being read manually. ESB Networks will collect a single meter reading remotely once every two months and send this to your supplier. While this will improve the accuracy of your bills, unless your meter-read and billing cycle align precisely, your bills will still be estimated to some degree.

Nothing else about your bills will change. Since your supplier won’t be receiving a detailed breakdown of your electricity use , they won’t be able to send you useful graphs and insights about your energy use. 

If you want to move forward, starting getting these insights and unlock the full benefits of your smart meter, you need to sign up to a smart plan.

Myth # 2: A smart plan will mean higher bills

Fact: If you choose a smart plan that suits your lifestyle, you can reduce your bills

Smart plans that offer different pricing, depending on when you use electricity, aim to encourage more electricity use at ‘off-peak’ times when demand is lower. They do this by charging less for off-peak usage and more for peak-time consumption.

Peak electricity use in Ireland is generally in the early evening, coinciding with people coming home from work, starting to cook, getting the washing machine going and switching on the TV; whereas demand is normally lowest in the very early hours of the morning while most of us are still asleep. 

Reflecting this, SSE Airtricity’s Smart Night Boost Plan customers benefit from a reduced night rate and super-low rates from 2 am to 5 am in the morning. This can be ideal for electric vehicle owners who charge their EVs at home overnight.

However, if you choose the Smart Night Boost Plan but continue to use most of your electricity at peak time evening hours – between 5 and 7 pm – then you are likely to end up paying more for your electricity.

The key to making the most savings is to understand your electricity use patterns and choose a smart plan that suits your lifestyle.

For example, if your house is extra busy on Saturdays and Sundays or you have a holiday home that you mainly visit at weekends, our Smart Weekend Plan could be a good choice. 

Myth #3: I’m not sure which plan to choose, so it’s best to do nothing

Fact: Our Smart Everyday Plan eliminates the risk of paying more, while providing smart benefits 

Our Smart Everyday Plan could be your best option if you are worried about choosing an unsuitable plan, and as a result, paying more for your bill.

If you are switching from a non-smart, standard 24-hour price plan, you cannot lose with Smart Everyday. You will continue to be charged a flat unit rate across all time bands. But you will unlock all the other benefits of smart metering. You can say goodbye to the annoyance of estimated bills. You will also be able to see a detailed breakdown of your daily energy usage, with personalised insights.

Research has shown that greater visibility of your energy use patterns can help you make energy and cost savings. This is similar to how the increased awareness of keeping a ‘spending journal’ can help you to save money – or keeping a ‘food diary’ can support more healthy eating habits.

Not only that, but having been on the Smart Everyday Plan for a while, you may be able to spot trends in the timing of your electricity usage. This will help you to see if you could save more by switching to one of our differential time-of-use plans such as Smart Weekends or Smart Night Boost.

Myth #4: If I choose a smart plan, I am permanently stuck with that plan

Fact: You can ask your supplier to change you to a different smart plan

It is true that once your smart meter has been activated, it’s not possible to revert to a non-smart plan. However, you can change from one type of smart plan to another that better matches your electricity use habits.

As explained above, if you are an SSE Airtricity customer, you can move to our Smart Everyday Plan. On this plan, you will be charged to same flat rate as our non-smart-meter standard rate customers. But you will still be able to keep the ‘smart’ advantages of no more estimated bills. You’ll also get insights on your electricity use.

Myth #5: Smart plans don’t do anything to help the environment

Fact: Smart metering can help renewable resources, like wind, work harder for us

At present, electricity isn’t easy to store; it generally needs to be used in real-time as soon as it’s generated. This means that, for climate impact, its not just the ‘how much’ of using electricity - the 'when' can be important as well. At peak times, additional carbon-emitting, fossil-fueled generating stations often need to be powered up. In contrast, in the early hours of the morning, wind turbines are sometimes ‘turned down’ because there isn’t enough demand for their full output.

Smart meters and time-of-use tariffs aim to increase awareness and encourage more evenly balanced electricity use over a 24-hour day and/or 7-day week. This should enable renewable energy sources, like wind, to contribute more fully to meeting electricity demand, reducing our fossil fuel dependence and carbon emissions.

Smart meters also provide insights to help us understand more about our electricity use and find ways to reduce energy waste, and they help the grid operators to manage our electricity network more efficiently. So, there are several ways smart meters can help reduce carbon emissions and contribute to positive climate action.

That’s why smart plans are an important part of Europe’s Clean Energy Package and Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.

Check out our Smart Plan offers here


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