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Ecotricity explains: 4 ways smart meters can help us reach net zero

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4 Jan 2022

At Ecotricity, our mission is to fight climate change. By choosing our green energy, every one of our customers is actively reducing the amount of fossil fuel burned to produce electricity in Britain, pushing us all towards the goal of net zero.

Hitting net zero carbon emissions is vital if we’re going to prevent a climate catastrophe – we can only achieve it by generating more green energy and being smarter about how we use it.

That’s where the latest generation of smart meters come in. They’re a crucial tool in the plan to decarbonise Britain over the next few years and we’re installing them free for all our customers. While automated meter readings are a big plus point, smart meters promise a lot more than that – here are just 4 of the ways that smart meters will help Britain reach net zero.

smart meter
1. Taking control of your energy

One of the first things you notice with a smart meter is how easy it is to see how much energy you’re using – and how much it’s costing. Lots of people find it helps them make changes to their energy habits, whether that’s turning off appliances before going to bed or batch cooking food to save time and money.

The big step towards net zero comes when we add up all the small changes that everyone across Britain makes to their daily routines. Even something as simple as only boiling the amount of water you need for your morning coffee, instead of overfilling the kettle, significantly cuts the amount of fossil fuels Britain needs to burn when 10 million households do this.

2. Solving the EV challenge

As electric vehicles become increasingly commonplace on our roads, the amount of electricity needed to charge them also increases. If everyone arrives home at the same time and plugs in, this will place a peak demand on the electricity grid and potentially need extra generation from fossil fuel sources – something we really want to avoid.

Smart meters have the potential to spread out this kind of intensive demand so that green energy can be used throughout. For example, most vehicles won’t need to be fully charged until the following morning, so there’s no need to charge every car in the shortest time. In the future, you might tell your car or an app your driving needs, and it would communicate with your smart meter to ensure green energy is being used to charge your vehicle without creating a peak in demand.

What’s more, there’s the potential to be paid to use your EV battery as energy storage, where the National Grid could take energy back from your vehicle in order to meet high demand, then replace it later.

3. Helping the grid get smarter

Unlike old-fashioned meters, smart meters monitor your energy use throughout the day and keep a record of that information. Previously, energy suppliers and the National Grid had to try and work out trends in energy consumption through quarterly meter readings and the peaks and troughs in demand throughout the day across different regions.

The detailed information that smart meters provide will give a far better real-time insight into what people need, making it possible to plan efficient green energy production and supply at a more local level, helping to maximise the amount of green energy used.

4. Making your own electricity

If you’ve got a solar panel on your home, congratulations – you’re a renewable energy generator. The government’s Feed-in-Tariff scheme for solar power has ended for new applicants but we’re working on something completely new, our Smart Export Tariff, where we’ll pay you for the energy you contribute to our green supplies.

Smart meters are what makes this possible and – as solar panel prices continue to fall and the National Grid gets smarter – more and more of us will have the chance to sell our surplus green electricity, helping Britain get to net zero.

If you’re an Ecotricity customer and want to find out more about our SMETS2 smart meter rollout, head over to our Smart Meters FAQ section.

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