Smart meter anxiety: what is it and how to fix it?

Home and business owners facing an ever increasing cycle of bills, not knowing how they’re going to afford to pay staff or take a holiday, cutting back on luxuries and even struggling to put food on the table are now faced with a ticking anxiety bomb in their midsts – Smart meters. 

While energy prices are in a state of flux, home and business owners are looking for ways to monitor and reduce their consumption. Having a smart meter can be a great way of doing this as you can see usage in real time and make adjustments to what appliances are on at any given time. For 22% of users however, watching energy usage and costs increase by the minute is heightening anxiety. 

With over 31 million smart meters now installed in homes and in small businesses across the UK we take a look at what smart meters are and how we can manage our smart meter anxiety so that it doesn’t take over our homes and our lives.  

What are smart meters? 

Smart meters offer a way for gas and electricity suppliers to record the energy usage in real time and are designed to replace traditional analog meters and prepay key meters in homes and businesses across the UK

The meters, which send readings every 30 mins to your energy supplier, are being rolled out as part of a government initiative to enable consumers and businesses to make better decisions about how they consume their home energy.

An in-home/business display connects to the smart meter and displays energy use in kilowatt hours (kWh), pounds and pence.  

The benefits of using a smart meter include:

  • Real-time data: Smart meters provide real-time information about energy consumption, allowing consumers to monitor their usage more accurately.
  • Remote reading: Utility companies can remotely read smart meters, eliminating the need for manual meter readings and estimated bills.
  • Energy Efficiency: With access to detailed consumption data, consumers can make informed choices to reduce energy usage and save money.
  • Time-of-use Tariffs: Smart meters enable time-of-use pricing, where electricity costs vary depending on the time of day. This can encourage consumers to use energy during off-peak hours when it’s cheaper.
  • Reduced energy waste: Smart meters can help identify energy wastage and encourage energy-saving behaviours.

Who needs a smart meter? 

Smart meters are designed to help users make better, more informed choices about their energy usage but they are not compulsory. However, if an installation is refused, then the user may not be able to access all future energy tariffs available to those with smart meters.

Those needing to replace old-style meters may not be able to refuse a smart meter as this is what the energy companies are offering across the board. New users can however ask for the smart functionality of the meter to be switched off but will still have to submit readings independently. 

What is smart meter anxiety?

With over a third of smart meter users admitting that they check their device at least once a day, we’re becoming a nation of energy worriers. Constant access to a screen showing growing energy costs can leave people feeling out of control and in fear of how bills are going to be paid. 

So what is the answer? 

For many, understanding energy consumption and where the energy vampires are lurking is a great starting point from which people can make positive choices and potential bill reductions.

How to reduce energy bills

From changing suppliers to spotting those ‘vampire devices’, here are our top tips for ways to reduce energy bills: 

  1. Energy Supplier: One of the most effective ways to reduce your energy bills is to compare energy suppliers and switch to a cheaper tariff. Use online comparison websites such as MoneySavingExpert to find the best deals. Fixed-rate tariffs can provide stability in your energy costs.
  2. Heat. By using a programmable thermostat, you are in control of when your heating are on. This can help you avoid heating an empty home and reduce energy consumption. You can also make your home more energy-efficient through the government funded Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, which is running from April 2022 to March 2026.
  3. Light. Replace incandescent and CFL bulbs with LED bulbs. LED bulbs are more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan and don’t forget to turn off your lights when leaving a room
  4. Water. lower the temperature on your water heater to around 120°F (49°C) and consider insulating your hot water tank and pipes to reduce heat loss. Also, reducing time in the shower can significantly reduce your water heating costs.
  5. Cooking. Use lids to retain heat and choose the right-sized burner or consider using a steamer, an airfryer or a slow cooker depending on your chosen meal.
  6. Vampire devices. It is estimated that vampire devices, the electrical appliances that drain power when left on standby or aren’t in use costs in excess of £2.2BN. Turning off appliances, modems, routers, gaming consoles, computers, phones and cable boxes as well as removing chargers from plugs could save pounds whilst using smart plugs coils help to manage usage. 


Where to find out more about energy savings

For further information on saving costs and energy saving tips Ask Bill 

Smart meters. It costs nothing to have a smart meter installed, just contact your gas and/or electricity supplier. You can find your Supplier here and through the Energy Networks Association website