Energy data can help cut household bills

Untapped energy data offers British homes an opportunity to cut bills, carbon emissions and increase energy security

Better use of untapped data generated by smart meters could deliver near-term cuts in bills and household emissions for more than 13m British homes while at the same time increasing energy security. According to independent research and industry analysis, making the most of data from smart meters can unlock energy savings of around 20 per on the average bill, the equivalent of around £400 a year.

Cambridge-based smart energy specialist geo (Green Energy Options), which has provided more than 7.5 million in home displays (IHDs) for the smart meter roll-out, says the time is right to replace them with newly developed Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS), which can deliver much bigger savings for consumers.

At the start of the smart meter roll-out, IHDs provided helpful information about consumption to allow consumers to make informed choices about their energy use. Technology has moved on and, whilst older IHDs are still useful, the next generation has evolved to become much more capable HEMS that make better use of smart meter data to learn about an individual household’s energy use and then automate energy efficiency measures.

The data available to households from the smart meter infrastructure also powers a new breed of smart thermostats that work with the HEMS and so can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of those available on the market today. Previously too expensive for most homes, smart thermostats allow existing gas boilers to heat the home much more efficiently, saving 10 – 12% on the average heating bill just by using less gas (1). They can also automatically turn down the heating when the house is empty, saving a further 5% for the average home.

In addition to heating savings, a home’s HEMS can deliver savings on electricity by automating energy savings across the various systems and appliances that consume energy. Again, this is possible by making better use of the smart meter’s data. HEMS understand when the home can use energy more efficiently and when it can avoid using more expensive energy. It can then coordinate the devices in the home to make savings without the consumer needing to change their behaviour. For example, running white goods off-peak when energy is cheapest. While the smart meter roll-out has always had this as a goal, it’s only now that the low-cost, high capability technology to realise its full potential for every home has become available

Equipping households with the ability to make full use of the data that their smart meters generate also allows much more efficient use of EVs and heat pumps as they become more common.

geo’s CEO Steve Cunningham said...

“Britain has so far fitted half of all British homes with some of the most sophisticated smart meters in the world, but their potential to cut bills risks going to waste. Advances in technology mean we can make better use of the data that smart meters provide to deliver an energy revolution in the home. Those benefits can start today, delivering around £400 a year of much needed energy savings for hard-pressed consumers.

While the Government is right to look at increasing and diversifying the supply of energy, it should not forget the other half of the equation and should look at reducing demand for energy. The new energy management systems coming onto the market now can be installed in place of more traditional smart energy displays and deliver that reduction at speed.

With energy bills expected to rise to almost £2,800 a year in October, it’s vital that industry, Government and the regulator come together to rapidly roll-out this technology. As a first step, geo is convening a discussion with like-minded organisations to engage with Government and identify the most effective pathways to roll-out HEMS and domestic demand side technology at scale.”

If HEMS, rather than more traditional IHDs, were to be installed in the 13 million British homes yet to have a smart meter fitted, they would save more than £15 billion on consumer energy bills and more than 11 million tons of emitted CO2 over the next five years. These figures would more than double if energy suppliers retrofit homes that already have a smart meter, as a simple and cost-effective upgrade.

Unlike long-term investments in essential measures to increase the future supply and security of Britain’s energy, like building large scale wind farms and nuclear power stations, HEMS can be deployed and begin to take effect today, as part of the ongoing smart meter roll-out or as a retrofit for those homes which already have smart meters.

(1) BEAMA The power at our finger tips – A manifesto for best practice heating controls in UK Homes October 2023