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Smart meters are not smart, they are just lazy

Smart meters are not smart at all. They are just meters that relay readings without somebody having to go and read the meter. It is the software they are connected to that has the potential to be smart, but how smart can it be with just a meter reading? It is no wonder the Audit Office is questioning the value of smart meters.


What would be smart would be to connect a "really smart meter" to points on the supply side of the consumer unit. A typical house would have at least the following circuits.


Downstairs sockets

Upstairs sockets

Downstairs lighting

Upstairs lighting

Heating

Cooker


Connect to these and you will know where to look for the consumption and really be able to manage it effectively. You will be able to tell the difference between the base consumption for the fridge you can't turn off and the Play Station in the kid's bedroom that you can. Now that is smart metering.


Let's face it. Commercially we preach sub metering to understand where your energy is going and site level or whole building metering is suitable mainly for fiscal use rather than energy management. What then is the logic in pretending that whole building metering is going to save the planet in a domestic setting? Yes, improved access to the same information will make some difference, but improved information would make a whole lot more.


If the government is going to commit millions to metering then it should be improved metering, not substitute metering or all we will actually achieve is putting meter reading agents out of work.


Link this really smart metering to a sender on the fiscal meter and you can still avoid having to send a meter reading agent (apologies, but you may still have to retrain as smart meter installers) and avoid the risk of the smart customer diverting some of the supply between the meter and the consumer unit.


What I am talking about is second generation smart meters that manufacturers would make available in months if the government said that was what they were prepared to fund. The worst thing we can do is blow the budget on first generation smart meters that nobody will be willing to replace for 20 years. That will prevent really smart metering happening because there will be no market for it and make carbon reduction objectives harder to achieve.


22 July 2011


Ian Sturt DipHI, DipNDEA(L4), Dip DEC

HI Devon Energy Assessment



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