back to article UK smart meter rollout years late and less than two thirds complete

UK energy companies are only 57 percent through the rollout of smart meters nearly four years after the government's first deadline for the £13.5 billion project, according to the public spending watchdog. In a report published this week, the National Audit Office (NAO) also found that indicative saving from smart meters …

  1. ChoHag Silver badge

    Hard to squeeze more than pennies out of a service? It's almost as if the delivery of the energy isn't where the costs are.

    1. StewartWhite

      The entire energy network in the UK is broken (as is water, the railways etc.) and the fat cats at the top know this only too well so they're just following the well-worn and inglorious playbook of blaming the individual consumer for their failings whilst laughing all the way to the bank.

      Witness UK Power Networks giving their overseas shareholders vast sums as a result of their monopoly on supply in various areas of the country: £2.4 billion profit in four years. Meanwhile after 20 years they still haven't resolved fundamental problems with the main substation in our village such that this week we yet again experienced a power cut. Their CEO (Basil Scarsella) is just about making do on £2 million+ p.a. in 2018 according to https://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-interview-basil-scarsella-the-man-keeping-your-lights-on-a3864311.html (I hate to think how much he "earns" now) whilst getting one of his minions to tell me that I needed to buy a UPS because the power supply here is so prone to failure.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Witness UK Power Networks giving their overseas shareholders vast sums as a result of their monopoly"

        My belief is that since utilities are fundamental to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages that they should be not be allowed to operate in the same way as other private corporations. They are natural monopolies and the choice of "suppliers" by the consumer is just a shell game. There are only a limited number of producers and somebody owns the physical infrastructure and must maintain it. If electricity was sold by multiple vendors all having their own lines, we'd see everywhere turn into something like those photos with hundreds of wires strung about all over the place. Having shareholders and allowing providers to invest in sports stadiums and speculate in stocks to 'maximize value to the shareholder' isn't a good way for them to operate. At the same time, I don't want to have utilities run by the government as that's even worse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The Free Market Zealots will be along soon to pour scorn on your Libtard socialist/communist ideas:

          "All hail our Master, Mammon. Praise be!" "Trickle Down Economics!" "Let The Market decide!" And other classic religious paeans.

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge
            Devil

            "Let the Market Decide..."

            Just take one look at the UK electricity price vs demand and you can see that there are plenty of times when the price swings from ridiculous £170/MWh to negative 50 and back, during the course of a day.

            Does the demand change in response to this change in price? (not just a change in price, but a change in its sign-bit..) Not a jot. That is a clear indication to me that the "free market system" is completely broken.

            We turn our appliances on based on our needs, routines, the time of day and the temperature. We don't go "Oh, the price is low today, better turn the heating up while I can!" All it means is that one cocaine-snorting gambler in a city bank gets rich, and another amphetamine-charged bankster loses out, for failing to accurately predict/manipulate supply and demand.

            I posted a good rant on this subject on another thread but I was late to the party and nobody read it.. :'( My theory is that they know all this stuff is never going to work. They know that EVs and Heat Pumps are going to make the problem worse, not better. But Smart Meters give them a means of surveillance and a means of control, and above all a means to make piles of cash out of this situation. All smart meters come with a disconnect switch (sometimes two) that can be used for dynamic load-shedding. At first, these will only be used in "emergencies" like when the grid drops to its knees due to insufficient investment (meanwhile all the UKPN shareholders run away carrying big bags of dosh..).

            But eventually, I predict the free-market banksters will give us an eBay-style auction system for energy consumers. Please set your maximum bid for energy. If you have a dual-switch meter then you can set two prices, one for your lights and one for your sockets, perhaps. If the price goes higher than your max price then the meter cuts you off until it dips back again. That way we could scrap the ridiculous double subsidies for Wind, Solar and Biomass, and pay them what they are actually worth. Of course if we did that, then our lights (or at least our sockets) would actually go off when the wind stops blowing, if we wanted to claim that we were really on "100% green energy".

            I think if we already had a system like that, then we would appreciate a bit more what Nuclear gives us, and we would appreciate a bit more that if we really did scrap all oil and gas, and entrust ourselves entirely to a future of Wind and Solar powered EVs and Heat Pumps, then we will need the transmission and storage capacity to match, otherwise keeping our EVs charging and our Heat Pumps pumping is going to be possible only for the rich.

            And in that situation where the price of energy skyrockets because there isn't enough transmission and distribution capacity, a few will be getting incredibly stinking filthy rich. Are those few going to be investing in more transmission and distribution capacity? Errrr, no.

            In Communist China, meanwhile, there are no profit-making utility companies, and any farmer who objects to a pylon in his beautiful field is given a new farm in a desert on the border of Kazakhstan.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: "Let the Market Decide..."

              "We turn our appliances on based on our needs, routines, the time of day and the temperature. We don't go "Oh, the price is low today, better turn the heating up while I can!" "

              A kettle is not a problem, but an electric boiler could be. Some things can be scheduled and it's easy enough to automate those things so they should be and discounts given. Some people prefer to shower in the evening but that's often the peak demand while if a shower was taken in the morning after the water heater has been able to charge up on cheap leccy, that could save money. Once everybody has had their morning shower, the heater could learn to only heat the top half of the tank as a standby (dual element tank). If somebody has solar, power could be saved up in the water heater and evening showers would be the more efficient way of doing it and again, only half of the tank is kept hot with mains power until the next day for washing up, etc.

              If you don't want to modify your habits to save a few bob, that's on you and somebody needs to pay full tariff to finance the executives bonuses.

              1. cyberdemon Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: "Let the Market Decide..."

                True up to a point, but it's a law of very diminishing returns. As I said in my post on the other thread: The bottleneck is in the low voltage distribution network, which in most towns and cities consists of 240V underground cables and relatively large transformers which convert ~40 amps at at 11kV into ~1000A at 415V, 3 phase. One of these local substations supplies maybe 100 houses, each with a 100A fuse. But they can only supply an average of 20A single-phase to each house. In the sticks it's overhead wires with smaller transformers producing ~100A of 3-phase 415V each, shared between say 10 houses, again for 20A on-average capacity. Basically the original town design was based on electric cookers & kettles with coal or gas for bulk heating, and there was no such concept as an EV.

                An electric shower of the type which takes cold water at 10 degrees and heats it to 40 degrees, with a flow regulator for the temperature dial, takes a constant 30-40 amps depending on the model (they come with 7kW-10kW heaters). Similarly an EV charger takes 7kW and a heat pump central heating system takes 5kW. An electric cooker or kettle takes 3kW. A portable air-con is 1kW, and a computer takes 0.25kW ish if it's a desktop, and 0.05kW ish if it's a laptop. LED lights and modern TVs are basically negligible.

                Electric Showers and Kettles take a lot of current, but they are are fine because they are only on for a short amount of time, so they are less likely to overlap between neighbours and so less likely to overload the local transformers. But EVs take hours to charge, even at 7kW. Heat pumps may be running flat out continuously in cold weather. So the "diversity argument" (i.e. "not everyone will be using their 100A fuse rating at the same time") no longer applies, and the existing transformers and underground cables will overload and fail. As I said in the other thread, my mains connection has a resistance of 0.2 Ohms, so if the cable under the road is loaded to 400A, we are burning 32kW as waste heat in the wiring / transformer. That's a terrible waste due to overloading, and it will cause failures. And the more people who get EVs and Heat Pumps, the more the old infrastructure will begin to creak.

                I have no idea how the free marketeers will try to model these local bottlenecks.

                But I totally agree with you on at least one count: Rooftop solar is good. We could dismantle all the solar farms that are occupying prime farmland, and relocate all the panels to rooftops, and we would have more farmland, cooler houses in summer, and less load on the local distribution grids (at least while the sun is shining...).

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "Let the Market Decide..."

                  @cyberdemon , I'm afraid to say you have expended a lot of energy trying to prove your case based on misconception and culminating in downright nonsense, " we are burning 32kW as waste heat in the wiring / transformer." Where on earth did you get that idea from and how did you actually measure your house supply resistance back to the transformer tapping?

                  AC Electrics 101

                  Fuses are there purely as protection for the cable,to burn out before the cable does, nothing else.

                  UK single phase 240V standard rating supply to a house is 63A.

                  Overload a transformer and what will happen is the secondary voltage drops away and keep dropping away until nothing works.

                  Diversity will always apply, there is no other workable solution. That is why smart devices are seen as a potential to alleviate these issues. The ability to schedule amongst themselves to make best use of the available resource.

                  1. cyberdemon Silver badge
                    Devil

                    Re: "Let the Market Decide..."

                    I measured my house supply back to the transformer tapping by measuring the mains current at the meter (with a good chauvin-arnoux current clamp and a scope) while measuring voltage at a socket using a high voltage probe on the same scope.

                    I then turn on a 40A (electric shower) load (which of course, is on a different circuit to the shower) and notice that the voltage drops by ~10-15V, depending on the time of day.

                    That means that the cable under the road (which is very old, paper-insulated cable btw) plus the transformer itself, has a voltage drop of 10V at 40A and therefore the network (which may have more than one transformer) has a thevenin-equivalent resistance of ~0.2 Ohms, at my node at least (but my house is the third on a street of 40, and there are many other similar streets before we come to the nearest transformer).

                    Now, I understand that these cables are typically rated to 400A before a fuse blows. So supposing all the houses are taking a combined 400A from that network. By Ohm's Law (P = I^2 R) does that not mean that there is 32kW being lost? i.e. 400*400*0.2 ?

                    Maybe I am missing something here about how the transformer itself works. But as far as I can tell, it's resistance doesn't go down when you draw more current, nor does the resistance of the wires (that if anything, goes up), and by fundamental physical principles, if you draw 400A through 0.2 Ohms, you are burning 32kW before you have any voltage at all supplied to the consumer.

                    I look forward to my new Smart electric shower that says "I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you have a shower right now. Try again at 11am." I'm sure everyone will want one.

                    1. cyberdemon Silver badge

                      Re: "Let the Market Decide..."

                      > (which of course, is on a different circuit to the shower)

                      Last-minute edit backfired. I mean the socket which has the voltage probe is on a different circuit, so I am excluding the resistance of the wiring that goes from the consumer unit to the shower.

                      It would be an even better measurement if I could measure the voltage drop at my neighbour's house caused by the shower.

                      My argument is, while it's unlikely that 10 neighbouring houses will have someone in the shower at the same time, it's possible that 10 neighbours will all have EVs on charge, heat pumps pumping OR a big heater like a shower running. So the diversity factor needs to be lessened, and I don't think this country has the resources to replace all of the local electricity distribution grids, so we are trying to "fix it in software" instead. The result of that is the grids become less efficient, because even if they never exceed their max power due to software constraints, they are still running at their max power much more often.

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: "Let the Market Decide..."

                      @ cyberdemon

                      Simply put -

                      AC Electrics 102

                      Ohms Law is a DC equation, not AC.

                      Voltage from the transformer is affected by it's TOTAL load, not just you and your shower but everybody hanging off its secondary with their showers and kettles.

                      This distribution voltage range is set at the tranformer based on expected load and is a range ( something around -5% to +10%) these days around the mean of 230V due to European Harmonisation regs.

                      This is done by selecting less or additional turns on the secondary via a mechanism called a tap changer. In the case of end user distribution this an off line tap changer. Meaning it can only be done during a power outage.

        2. Persona Silver badge

          Being old enough to have been a customer of the old gas board and their electricity counterpart SEE board, the current system doesn't seem so bad.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "Being old enough to have been a customer of the old gas board and their electricity counterpart SEE board, the current system doesn't seem so bad."

            So they're using a smooth face hammer with less mass to hit you over the head rather than the waffle face professional framing hammer they used to use?

            1. Persona Silver badge

              hit you over the head

              I recall dealing with SEEBOARD was like being rogered doggie fashion with that hammer sideways.

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    It's hard to see how smart meters are meant to save money in and of themselves.

    People already know that devices use energy...

    The real benefit is interesting time of day tariffs, and demand reduction schemes like we had last winter.

    1. Ball boy Silver badge

      Came here to say the same thing: a meter is just that - a device to record or monitor usage. These smart meters do nothing to throttle to power being consumed so there's no innate ability to reduce an energy bill. Okay, a savvy consumer might be more aware of their energy usage and moderate their consumption as a result - but, without doubt, the greatest saving with a smart meter is at the provider's end: they don't need to send someone out to read it.

      They seem to have downsides, too. For one, the early versions wouldn't allow switching to a different provider and this slowed down adoption. I also suspect there's also growing concern from the end users that having a meter that allows the cost per KWh to vary on the whim of the provider (sub-hourly, if needs be) might not be such a good deal. How can you reasonably compare different providers when the unit cost leaps up and down regularly (indeed, how can you even be sure you're paying the best or even a correct rate for any particular time of day?)

      However, for all their downsides, they offer convenience to the supplier and they're here to stay - and I can well imagine that 'smart water meters' are only a few years away.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Smart water meters are already here - though my water company won't fit a meter at all. They claim the pipe isn't suitable.

        With half hourly measurements, and that data being made available to the consumer, it's fairly easy to check that you have been appropriately charged.

        The complexity of agile style tariffs is something that really needs automation to deal with - battery systems etc can import that data and automatically schedule their charge/discharge schedule to minimise the price of electricity.

        But even old E7/E10 style tariffs can be better managed by smart meters, at least they actually keep decent time.

        My tariff requires a smart meter, and I like having the data. I know that I am on the best tariff, partly because of the data I get.

        It was always a bit of a guess previously.

        1. Mishak Silver badge

          I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

          There are some really good tariffs out there (Octopus) that all some people to save quite a bit, and that help the grid manage demand. For example, they have one for EV owners that gives the same number of hours of cheap energy (something like 8p/kWh) each night, with the exact time being varied to suit the grid. There are similar tariffs that work better with solar/battery systems.

          Working out which is the best can be a bit tricky, but it's easy to do "what if" calculations if you have a decent amount of half-hourly data available (I can download the lot from my Octopus account) - I can even see the spikes where I make tea...

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

            "with the exact time being varied to suit the grid."

            Usage being encouraged or discourage to fit the grid is the next big logical step. Most reduced pricing is in the wee hours, but if you have your EV plugged in and there's a oversupply of wind power, if the prices could be transmitted to your car you can have programming in place that will take advantage of reduced pricing. A whole bunch of cars plugged in all over the place would be able to absorb nearly all of the peaks in production and keep suppliers from having to turn off wind turbines due to oversupply. Even solar might need to be shut down in an area on a sunny day without a lot of demand. Baseload generation tends to be much more difficult to turn on and off or there just isn't any financial advantage in doing so. With something like a nuclear reactor, it makes more sense to have it going 100% all of the time it's operating to see a return on the investment. With coal, turning plants on and off leads to problems due to frequent thermal cycling.

            1. druck Silver badge

              Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

              The wind tends to drop at night.

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                There is still an excess of wind in the small hours, because demand drops further than the wind.

                1. blackcat Silver badge

                  Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                  Looking at last nights figures wind was making ~1.5GW at the point of lowest demand, a bit over 2GW the night before. Certainly there are nights where wind power is in excess but last night needed 14GW of gas and 4GW of nuclear to keep up.

                  1. Tom 38

                    Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                    The scottish part of the grid regularly has to dump huge amounts of wind power overnight, especially in the winter, because there is not enough capacity to get it to where it could be used. When that happens, it doesn't show up as generated power on places like grid watch.

                    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

                      Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                      Yes, the transmission network is largely still based on the old model of 'this area doesn't need much power being rural' with large single power stations. Modern wind farms and distributed generation of all kinds can mess with it. Our DNO (SSEN) has interesting info on their site down to the 33kv/11kv network showing how much generation each local sub can handle, it's often a lot lower than you'd think. (often WAY less than the thruput of the substation in the other direction), probably because of the exact symptom you described.

                    2. hoola Silver badge

                      Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                      And this is where hydrogen comes in.

                      Using surplus wind to produce hydrogen may be "inefficient" in some ways but the outcome is an energy that is stored and can easily be used.

                      At the end of the day, not matter how inefficient hydrogen is, it is a far more useful fuel than dumping electricity into batteries.

                      The environmental impact of manufacturing the batteries is huge. The only reason batteries have rapidly become the default for vehicles is because the charging problems could very easily be offloaded as "someone else's problem" that could be fixed (albeit very inefficiently) with a 13A plug.

                      Yes the charging infrastructure is improving but it is still pitiful however the elephant in the room is the batteries. Recycling is difficult and largely irrelevant at the moment as demand is so high virgin materials are the only option.

                  2. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                    Single day statistics can show anything you like.

                    Summer tends to have a little more power available during the day, and both solar and wind are being built out around the country.

                    The "off peak" period doesn't have to be at the same time all year round - and it can vary even more than that.

                    It's what octopus intelligent does - it looks at the grid, and looks at the charge you've requested on your car and then picks the best time to do the charge between when you plugged in and when you need the car.

                    Nothing complicated for the customer - just say "I want 75% charge by 9 am each week day" and plug in when you get home each day... the hours the car actually charges are then scheduled to be at the most effective times for the grid.

                    1. blackcat Silver badge

                      Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                      I'm aware that one swallow does not make a summer. There is a generalisation by those not as scientifically inclined to make such claims though. Usually after very long period averages have been applied to the data. People still think in terms of economy 7 and this has been incorrectly carried over into renewables.

                      I find it odd that only one supplier is actually engaging their brain and is doing what is really needed to make a 'smart grid'. (cos smart meters are not) There should be a much bigger push.

                      It seems that the vast majority of energy suppliers and applicance manufacturers will only do something when ordered to. Why not have a 2 or 3 stage heater on your washing machine? Match the heater to what is available? It only heats for a small part of the cycle so won't make it much slower. Phase change material in fridges to store cold. (already used in Africa to store medicine) Better control of oven elements so you get a constant lower current draw rather than cycled full/nothing/full. Same area under the curve and the electronics are not hard with modern power devices. This would be FAR more solar friendly.

                      I made myself a solar diverter for my hot tank, not as nice as the myenergy offering but I'm cheap and fancied a challenge. And myenergy seem to be making a reasonable ecosystem with their kit.

                      There is so much we can do but seem unwilling to do.

                      1. John Robson Silver badge

                        Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                        Yep - E7 still makes some sense given the load profile of our grid (and that's all Octopus Go is really), but moving forwards we will need the smart meter data to enable smarter tariffs, and that is where the grid can be smart.

                        The smart meter is, as you rightly point out, nothing of the sort - it's just a half hourly meter with automated reading (because manual readings would be a pain in the neck).

                        I agree in terms of ovens etc... decent induction hobs already do this. There are some stoves in the US which have a 3-4kWh battery instead of a "pan drawer" (yes it's a warming drawer, but who uses it for that)... The idea being that you don't need a heavy circuit for the oven, you just plug it into a normal wall outlet and it charges the battery "slowly", then powers the heating elements from the battery. The overall duty cycle of the stove is very low indeed.

                        My washing machine (not a particularly new one, but bought within the last decade) uses about 400Wh at the start of a typical cycle for heating water. If I tried to draw that from a hot water tank then I'd be wasting my time entirely, the machine would have filled before the hot water even arrived (even if my tank was fairly close).

                        Even doing a load every day that's under 150 kWh a year, or £40 ish. I don't think the complexity of anything more than a basic resistive heater is easily justified in this case - and even using a 1kWh battery feels overly complex given that it's only a 1500W load for a few minutes.

                        A tumble drier however... A heat pump there is a different story, not least because you can dry clothes in cool air, just so long as the air is dry - I imagine that would be substantially better for the clothes as well. And yes, a clothes line is even better, but let's be honest about the frequency of sky water.

                        I'm still manually diverting to the car once the battery is (nearly) full. I'd like a solar aware charger, preferably one that integrated with my battery system and made the best use of both.

                        With one energy company trying to be intelligent about the way they design tariffs I'm surprised there haven't been a few more joining in... but ho hum.

                        1. PermissionToSpeakPlease

                          Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                          "E7 still makes some sense given the load profile of our grid (and that's all Octopus Go is really)"

                          Go is indeed similar to the old E7/10 style tarrifs, but Intelligent Octopus is a bit more clever than that. It actively tries to seek out the "best" slots in which to charge, and isn't just limited to the standard off-peak hours. That's where smart meters have really enabled a whole new style of tarrif to exist.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                            "That's where smart meters have really enabled a whole new style of tarrif to exist."

                            Only partially as the smart meter doesn't tell your car when to charge (assuming it is plugged in).

                            The smart meter is the billing part of the equation and the rest of the system is being ignored by all but octopus right now.

                            It should also be able to work with battery storage systems as more and more people have them.

                            With more solar we could get to a point where midday, especially at weekends, is when there is a major excess. This is also the time when your car is likely away (work, shopping, other daytime not being at home activity) so being able to charge a static battery bank would be a smart idea.

                            The infrastructure for V2G is just too immense to consider...

                            1. John Robson Silver badge

                              Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                              The smart meter can't tell all cars when to charge - you need to have a compatible car (quite a wide range) or charger (Ohme only at the moment).

                              And the smart meter is an essential part of that... but they'd be better called half hourly meters.

                            2. John Robson Silver badge

                              Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                              "With more solar we could get to a point where midday, especially at weekends, is when there is a major excess. This is also the time when your car is likely away (work, shopping, other daytime not being at home activity) so being able to charge a static battery bank would be a smart idea.

                              The infrastructure for V2G is just too immense to consider..."

                              This is why destination chargers are important... when your car is not on the road it could/should be plugged in. EVs should all have at least a 3kW (but preferably 7kW) grid sync inverters such that the inverter and intelligence are in the same place (and fundamentally under the control of the owner), that also simplifies the charge points substantially.

                              The physical infrastructure for V2G is trivial... it's just a case of hooking up AC power to car parks (and a load measurement clamp to protect the incoming feed)

                              The challenge is much more in the software - do you want to ask local vehicles for power - or do cars talk to whoever's supply they are hooked up to (generally you'd only need to tell the car about probably two common parking spots).

                              How do you meter the power? Companies could reasonable use their car parks via their meter and have a sensible policy with their employees, less obvious at a supermarket.

                              Reverse power flow in a substation is a possibility with large fleets of EVs in a relatively small location (like an office complex), but it's certainly not insurmountable to limit the reverse power through a substation... it does require decent communications though.

                              1. blackcat Silver badge

                                Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                                From a quick search it appears that V2G works on DC to the car so requires an external charger/inverter unit.

                                Either way hooking up that many kW to every carpark is not trivial. The southbound M3 services at Fleet have been waiting 5 years for a hookup for the Tesla chargers with no sign of it getting done any time soon.

                      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

                        Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                        a small outfit called 'Dynamic Demand' suggested a novel approach a few years back, use the grid frequency to trigger non essential loads to self shed, or self engage... dynamically. This would average out demand locally...Likely the extra cost would've been borne by the consumer however, as, as you say, smart meters don't make for a smart grid.

                        1. blackcat Silver badge

                          Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                          Remember the big London blackout a few years ago where the trains freaked out and refused to restart due to the frequency going more than a couple of Hz off target.

                        2. Mishak Silver badge

                          Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                          I remember seeing that, and thought it was an interesting idea. However, it would need to be designed to ensure that the control loop was critically (or over) damped to stop major grid instability.

                    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                      Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                      "The "off peak" period doesn't have to be at the same time all year round - and it can vary even more than that."

                      This is why real-time transmission of pricing based on supply and demand is the next big step. Things that can tolerate being turned on and off could cycle according to generation. In the US there are large underground Ammonia pipelines so having plants that can be turned on and off that feed directly into the network could be a very good thing. Some of the best wind farm locations are too far from where the power is needed, but making Ammonia on the site of the wind farm could be a very efficient way to take advantage. I mention Ammonia as its production uses a tremendous percentage of generated energy. I'm not saying that it would be a 'silver bullet' replacement for how it's made now, but a good use of intermittent power that could shorten the ROI of a wind farm over putting the power on the grid.

                    3. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                      The old assumptions of low summer demand therefore being the right time to do work are dead.

                      System access to carry out work is ruinously bad. A savvy question to ask would be what proportion of planned work is completed

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                "The wind tends to drop at night."

                It can but there can also be gales when you are talking about farms off the Northern coast of Scotland that go for day. It would be much better to have EV's saving up that power rather than the grid operators feathering the turbines due to oversupply.

                1. blackcat Silver badge

                  Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

                  I believe in gales they have to turn them out of the wind to protect the blades.

            2. Persona Silver badge

              Re: I'm not sure why you've got so many down votes

              With something like a nuclear reactor, it makes more sense to have it going 100% all of the time it's operating to see a return on the investment

              Whilst that is true there is more to it than than. With most common reactor designs if you shut them down the buildup of short lived isotopes of iodine/xenon which is a neutron adsorber means you can't restart the reactor for a while after the shutdown.

        2. Persona Silver badge

          But even old E7/E10 style tariffs can be better managed by smart meters, at least they actually keep decent time.

          Not really. They use the Radio Teleswitch Service so the clocks in them are synchronized. The time keeping is/was pretty good though I suspect it might even be deliberately "fuzzed" a bit to avoid causing transients on the grid as in addition to switching tariff they also have a "night rate" switched output.

          Unfortunately the Radio Teleswitch Service is to be shut down on the 31st of March 2024, so the only way forward is a smart meter. Consequently mine gets installed Monday week.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            France used mains signalling to do the tariff switches.

            Caused a lot of "interesting" issues with power control systems as predicting zero-cross of the AC is a lot more difficult during the triggers.

          2. John Robson Silver badge

            E10 meters used to have a night rate output, but I've never come across an E7 that did.

            And my last E7 meter was out by more than thirty minutes, that's not a fudge factor, and it doesn't feel radio synchronised either.

            But what I said was that those tariffs are able to be managed by a half hourly meter - which they are, you can even have different timings across the country, depending on local power production and local demand. An additional relay for an E10 style output could turn that on at slightly different times without any affect on the consumer.

            Possibly better to move towards having smart loads - the most obvious are heat batteries (storage heaters or water tanks) powered by resistive heaters or heat pumps, but electrical batteries (in the house or the car) also significantly help to match the timing of demand and supply.

            This year only 8% of the electrical energy we've used as a household was imported from the grid at "peak" hours - and 20% of *that* was due to perverse incentives from the national grid (specifically the in day adjustment).

            This PDF report suggests that domestic use is a little over a third of the UK demand for electrons.

            If we can manipulate that third well, then we can significantly improve the mix of the grid.

            1. Persona Silver badge

              E10 meters used to have a night rate output, but I've never come across an E7 that did

              It's not done by the E7 meter, it's done by the teleswitch. The teleswitch has a rate switching signal output that goes to the meter, but also inside the teleswitch is a high power contactor that can be wired to provide a rate switched output. It's the contactor that gives that big "clunk" when the rate changes.

              If your teleswitch is out by 30 mins it's either broken or more probably on a different timer group. Curiously your electricity supplier has almost no clue which switching group you are in, so the night rate times might be quite different from what they will tell you. If you look on their web sites they are often rather vague about when the night rate starts,

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The houses in my street have all just had smart water meters fitted, against everyone wishes, because the Thames Valley is classed as a water stressed area. Our water bill has gone up by about 400%. They wrote to use saying that our family uses 9 people's allowance of water.

        It beggars belief that the UK could ever have a water shortage. We are small island surrounded by billions of gallons of the stuff and it falls out of the sky almost continuous for 9 month of the year. Some areas get flooded every winter. If there are water shortages, it is entirely due to lack of investment in storage and distribution infrastructure by the privatised water companies.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          They've invested heavily in distribution infrastructure... OH, for water? No they've ignored that. They've invested heavily in taking on debt and distributing the cash to shareholders.

          Since privatisation in 1989 they've paid £50 billion in dividends, and they now have £56 billion in debt.

          Is it only me that expects that £6 billion to appear as dividends soon?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You might want to check for leaks. With 4 of us in the house having a shower each daily plus lots of use of the washing machine etc. our water bill went down when we had a water meter installed...

          1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            > With 4 of us in the house having a shower each daily

            You are showering too frequently. Its bad for your health. Shower once every couple of days if you have not sweated and during summer when you probably do shower every day do so only for 4-6 mins. 4 mins is a bit fast for me, 6 manageable, but I find if I'm not on the ball I end up taking 15 mins!

            1. adam 40 Silver badge
              Pirate

              You are showering too long. Shower for 15 seconds while you soap up, Wash your bits with the shower off.

              Then turn the shower on for 10 seconds to rinse off.

              1. that one in the corner Silver badge

                Use a water mister to dampen yourself, rub thoroughly with shower gel; use a strigil to get most of it of yourself and only use the shower proper to rinse off: as you say, 10 seconds should do the trick.

                1. DenTheMan

                  This one is going to blow hot and cold.

                  1. steelpillow Silver badge

                    In the Sahara, the Arabs rub themselves with sand instead.

                    And no, they don't hang a sandblaster under the belly of a camel!

                2. ske1fr

                  A strigil?

                  Jacob Rees-Mogg, estne tu?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: A strigil?

                    Nothing wrong with strigil .... I have been waiting 50 years to use the word properly in everyday conversation .... NOT !!!

                    Cannot find it on amazon though !!!???

                    Do I simply 'borrow' one from a museum or what !!!???

                    :)

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: A strigil?

                      You didn't look closely enough... and never even looked at Etsy I guess.

                      I even found some at a time in Roman-style Badenparadies in Germany.

                3. NeilPost Silver badge

                  … when I were a lad … damp rag was all we had.

                4. Richard 12 Silver badge
                  Coat

                  You'll need household staff to do it properly, of course.

                  Mine's the toga.

                5. PhilipN Silver badge

                  "strigil"?

                  Is that you, (history teacher) Mr. Marshall?

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "You are showering too frequently."

              It seems you don't travel on public transportation very often where there are plenty of people that don't shower often enough. Some people need to bathe more frequently than others. I'm self-employed and do about half of my time in my home office so I don't need to shower very often on those days. I do smarten myself up when I'm going out in the field where I interact with others and after a day like today where I spent a fair bit of time in the garden under a hot sun even though it's an office day.

              My water has always been metered and it's very rare that my usage is beyond the lowest tier. I get billed in tiers rather than by a formula of volume times a price plus a standing charge.

              If my bill went up 400%, there would be opportunity to invest in alternatives. I plan to get some IBC totes to store rain water, but it's rather far down on the list right now since there isn't any financial return at the moment. I could add a valve to the shower that makes it easy to turn on/off after I get the temperature set, that way it's not running the entire time. In a year or two when the garden is much bigger, I'll need to store water to keep my bill from shooting up along with the sunflowers.

              1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

                >>I plan to get some IBC totes to store rain water

                If you do decide to use IBCs be aware that they have a tendnacy to split in the winter - generally alleviated by cutting a gurt big ole in the top, which kind of defeats the object. Also the white/natural plastic coloured ones tend to grow green after a while.

                Sauce: looked into it and asked people who already use IBCs; was going to build a shed to keep them in (dark and frost protected) but then got offered a 2.5k litre black polythene cylinder for pennies (less than 1 IBC) and used that instead.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  "Also the white/natural plastic coloured ones tend to grow green after a while."

                  There's plenty of airborne algae where I am that infects open water quickly in summer. Most people with totes in the area paint them and then build an opaque housing around them. I am thinking of going another step further and putting in a small treatment set up to continuously (during the day with solar) processing the water. The totes are thick on the ground around me which makes them less expensive than the black polythene tanks. For some odd reason, the city wants a permit for the round polythene tanks and doesn't care at all about the totes. The less I have to deal with the city, the better.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          it is entirely due to lack of investment in storage and distribution infrastructure by the privatised water companies.

          Thames Water have spent the last 30 years trying to build a new reservoir in Oxfordshire, and have been blocked by the NIMBYs at every turn. It isn't entirely the fault of the water companies.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "It isn't entirely the fault of the water companies."

            Nope, it's the government's fault and just gets worse as time goes by as population increases and all aspects of waterworks aren't growing to keep up with more people and something of a buffer. Politicians bang on about causes that buy them votes such as feeding the poor. How many registered voters are going to be excited about a reservoir? None likely, until there is a dry year and there isn't enough to keep the pipes filled.

            Population is a problem and unless The State is going to start putting some disincentives to people replicating, they are going to need plans on how to grow the infrastructure to support them.

        4. codejunky Silver badge

          @AC

          "Some areas get flooded every winter. If there are water shortages, it is entirely due to lack of investment in storage and distribution infrastructure by the privatised water companies."

          Unfortunately the companies cant get the planning permission to build the necessary reservoirs to store the water people need

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Joke

            Re: @AC

            Why would monopoly water companies waste profits on building large expensive infrastructure projects? Planning permission? You joker.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @AC

              @AC

              "Why would monopoly water companies waste profits on building large expensive infrastructure projects? Planning permission? You joker."

              Dont let the facts hurt your feelings. The water companies have tried and applied. Not their fault if they are not allowed to.

              1. tip pc Silver badge
                Stop

                Re: @AC

                Apologies for the guardian link but……

                https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/28/thames-water-ordered-to-fix-leaks-before-pumping-millions-of-litres-from-rivers

                630 million litres a day lost just by Thames water.

                That’s over half the powder mill reservoir lost every day, or the 31k mega litre (me neither) Bewl reservoir every 50 days.

                https://www.southernwater.co.uk/water-for-life/reservoir-levels

                Just stop the leaks then they won’t need permission for more reservoirs.

                1. blackcat Silver badge

                  Re: @AC

                  It is a bit of a joke. The next house down the road from me has water bubbling out of their meter pit and has been for at least 3 weeks. It is bad enough that cars make a splash. The water board know about it as I saw their vans there one day and they talked to me as the owners of the house were on hols and they told me the meter body had split. But still not fixed!

                  1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

                    Re: @AC

                    thats odd - I had the meter literally explode (a part failed and the inlet popped out, resulting in afountain about 8-10' high (pictures do exists however we cant post them on El. Reg. - did I mention we have interesting water pressure by us?) Water board were on the case and it was fixed in 6 hours.They did try to blame me until I gave them the bits of meter I had collected from the street.

                    Mind you I live in a part of the UK where the water company is a not for profit organisation, unlike the majority of readers I guess.

                2. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: @AC

                  @tip pc

                  "Just stop the leaks then they won’t need permission for more reservoirs."

                  I am not sure people want to pay for that. If it was cheaper to do that than build a reservoir then they would do it. But most likely it requires putting bills up to pay for such upgrades. The network will never be leak free, not sure but I think the gov even has targets set for how much can be lost in leaks too.

                  If that is the amount lost and not worth fixing it begs the question of how much is needed and predicted to be needed

                  1. skein

                    Re: @AC

                    Or, you know, invest the billions in dividends into infrastructure instead.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: @AC

                      @skein

                      "Or, you know, invest the billions in dividends into infrastructure instead."

                      Sure. Go ahead and cough it up. Thats what I said

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: @AC

                    But most likely it requires putting bills up

                    Are water companies making huge losses then? No money to fix their stuff? Same reason the UK is knee deep in its own turds? You are such a card, old chap.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: @AC

                      @AC

                      "Are water companies making huge losses then?"

                      Should hope not. Otherwise people wont invest in them and then there is less money to maintain the infrastructure.

                      "No money to fix their stuff?"

                      Sure, from those paying for water. So the bills go up.

                      "Same reason the UK is knee deep in its own turds?"

                      Oops you made a mistake. England uses a different management system to Wales, Scotland and NI. England having comparably the best quality water, best service and lowest price.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: @AC

                        Do turds stop at borders then? Are there inshore nets to catch them? Mistakes? Are you wont to make those?

                        But OK "Eng-er-land" instead of UK. If you like.

                      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                        Re: @AC

                        "Should hope not. Otherwise people wont invest in them and then there is less money to maintain the infrastructure."

                        Relying on investors is part of the problem. People holding shares expect a return through dividends or a growing stock price. Something like water isn't driven by fashion so it's not hard to analyze and plan. For large projects, another reservoir/pumping station/pipeline, bonds can be sold and that is an avenue for people to invest without making them shareholders that have to be kept happy every quarter. Ongoing maintenance and a certain amount of growth can be budgeted with money set aside for major renovations such as replacing mains as they hit their expected life.

                        1. codejunky Silver badge

                          Re: @AC

                          @MachDiamond

                          "Relying on investors is part of the problem"

                          Ok but before that relying on government was the problem. Through investors the system got the necessary funding to make the needed repairs and upgrades that the government refused to fund.

                          "Something like water isn't driven by fashion so it's not hard to analyze and plan"

                          This is where I said earlier that its planning permission problems. The companies are applying because they know the needs. But without the planning permission they are stuffed.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: @AC

                            But without the planning permission they are stuffed.

                            Water privatised in 1989.

                            No new reservoirs since 1991.

                            Hmm?

                            1. codejunky Silver badge

                              Re: @AC

                              @AC

                              "Water privatised in 1989.

                              No new reservoirs since 1991.

                              Hmm?"

                              Guess you agree with me then? Not sure if they needed new reservoirs right away when the mass investment went into fixing the poorly maintained infrastructure passed on to the private sector.

                              1. Anonymous Coward
                                Anonymous Coward

                                Re: @AC

                                Indeed. Just like we didn't need new nuclear reactors in 1990.

                          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                            Re: @AC

                            " But without the planning permission they are stuffed."

                            So nob hill is the first to be shut off during shortages. It's not like everybody doesn't know where these people live.

                          3. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: @AC

                            As our resident anonymous El Reg transmission engineer, I can assure you that the primary driver for privatisation was to grind the network assets as close to the edge of oblivion as possible while shoving prices up in the name of money printing for their rich mates.

                            It is no different in water, gas or telecommunications, some more obvious than others.

                            The impracticality of competition in most of these markets means that "private" companies exist only under the umbrella of multiple regulators to "artificially" create competition. And low and behold those artificial drivers are also used to siphon off and funnel cash. This is even true in the good ole US of A, however much one might try to deny.

                            Ample evidence to be found in the implementation of ROC, CFD, and other B.S. mechanisms here in blighty.

                            When it comes to investors; either in the form of shares or bonds; all that the "regulated" model is really competing with is borrowing money at government interest rates. And a lot of investors don't particularly want predictable boring 5% dividends, so the investment is lacking in any case.

                            Moving on from this 30-year failed experiment in utility privatisation and getting back onto rational grounds should be a national emergency. I don't really expect to see movement on this in my lifetime short of something being royally fucked up, however.

                            As the opening lines in the original theme tune to GTA went: "Steal what you can and run from the nation". If you can't beat em, join em.

                            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                              Re: @AC

                              My only quibble with that view is to mix in that I do believe that some of the privatisers of the 80s did genuinely have an idealogical view that all assets and service should be owned privately and subject to market forces - and conversely, that nothing should be owned centrally, by the state. Not even basic infrastructure like roads, water, hospitals or even prisons.

                          4. MachDiamond Silver badge

                            Re: @AC

                            "Through investors the system got the necessary funding to make the needed repairs and upgrades that the government refused to fund."

                            I'll put some more emphasis on my statement by repeating myself, money can be raised by selling bonds. Investors can make a pretty safe return but they don't become shareholders that have to be placated every quarter. It also gets rid of all of the perverse incentives for public utilities to be looked at the same way as a publicly traded corporation. It's a different type of business and fundamental to everybody's needs.

                            1. codejunky Silver badge

                              Re: @AC

                              @MachDiamond

                              It looks like we have some numbers to start with for this upgrade idea-

                              https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/2nt9gv4g9ak8hu99g7oanhax06aejx

                              The increase to bills looks to be around 40%. Whatever method is used to fund it this is the cost of the upgrade.

                              1. Anonymous Coward
                                Anonymous Coward

                                Re: @AC

                                codejunky says, "Tim! Oh Tim!!! <3 <3 <3"

                                Are you going on about the privatised water companies on the brink of collapse, hmm?

                                Massive failure. Both of "The Market" and ofwat.

                      3. Richard 12 Silver badge

                        Re: @AC

                        There's £50,000,000,000 that they paid out as dividends.

                        If they'd put half of that into maintaining the infrastructure they were handed for free, the shareholders would still be happy, and most of the leaks would have been fixed.

                        1. codejunky Silver badge

                          Re: @AC

                          @Richard 12

                          "There's £50,000,000,000 that they paid out as dividends."

                          Our entire food provision is investors all the way down. From growing, producing, processing, transport, storage, delivery, outlets and places that will even cook it for you. The government controlled versions of that have been shortages, queues and the elites having plenty while others dont.

                          While a very different provision the utilities were creaking from underinvestment under the govs. What you want at the end is a water supply. If you want water bills to shoot up to fund fixing that then that is an option. Stop providing a return on investment and the tax payers will get the pleasure as investors pull out, they dont care about your water and you dont care about their profit. You care about their money providing your water and they care about a return on investment.

                          As with energy, the gov says no. You cannot have it. For whatever ideological reason they demand supply and ban production.

          2. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            It would help if they lost less water in the network.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @AC

              @tip pc

              "It would help if they lost less water in the network."

              Possibly but hard to tell from just that information.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: @AC

              "It would help if they lost less water in the network."

              It another one of those engineering things where getting past a certain point costs exponentially more for every percentage point you want towards perfection. Yes, you are correct that it would help. The other side is that water storage has to keep up with all of the busy breeders so there is margin during dry years. Pipes leak and water in uncovered aqueducts and reservoirs evaporates. There's no good way to prevent water from moving around on the large scale.

        5. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          > and it falls out of the sky almost continuous for 9 month of the year.

          It hasnt dont that for a very long time and likely wont ever again.

          Where is all this rain then? Didnt have hardly a drop last winter! It was dry for months,but overcast.

        6. Terry 6 Silver badge
          Pint

          My objection to water meters too. The companies' job is to collect, clean, deliver and remove water (and waste). They don't make it or own it, it falls out of the sky.. And if there's a shortage it's because they haven't been doing their job- the job that they charge for.

          There's a wide difference between charging for a service- the collect/clean/deliver bit- and charging for a product by volume. Water is a resource not a product. They collect it for us when it falls, they don't make it

          1. Tom 38

            Every cc of water that you use has to be procured, stored, delivered, pressurized and then processed as waste. The amount you use exactly correlates with the cost to provide those attributes.

            There's a lot wrong with water, but charging for your usage isn't one of them. Ancient leaking pipes, inadequate storm overflow facilities, not enough reservoirs - these all need fixing. Paying your fair shake doesn't.

        7. hoola Silver badge

          We are surrounded by sea, that is salt water, it is on no use for drinking or irrigation.

          To be useful you need to have desalination plants that are horrendously expensive to run.

          The UK is water stressed an many areas because so much has been extracted from aquifers the water tables have dropped.

          Upland vegetation removal means that water runs off far more quickly and is not captured.

      4. tony72

        I was skeptical about smart meters, but after moving into a place that has them, I appreciate them a bit more. Manually reading a meter and entering the readings is really not something that belongs in this day and age. When energy prices went up, I really did find it useful to be able to go over my usage graphs and figure out where I could make some savings. And surge pricing will have it's upsides when it comes in; smoothing out demand is good for reducing the use of peaker plants and this carbon emissions, and actually give people a chance to save money by doing things when prices are low, so I don't have a problem with it, really.

        1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          > Manually reading a meter and entering the readings is really not something that belongs in this day and age

          Quite the opposite. We need more of that sort of thing!

          By reading your own meter, you will be aware of issues before they become serious. It is nothing more than a 5 minjob anyway, again why the rush?

          If you "just let it do it" are you also not chedcking your bank statements? Do you keep tally of the amount of money you spend at the sandwich van every day at work so you can train yourself to stop spending so much for so little or do you just wave the contactless card and "let it just do it".

          When was the last time you check the bank statements, or do you just let stuff come out? Checked the pension is being paid into? Checked the firealarm or do you think that too should be automatic. Maybe you have a smart one.. do you kow it works?

          Do you check all appliances are off before leaving the house? Especially those with liion batteries that might be charging? When I leave the house, alsmost everything is off at the wall or unplugged, especially stuff that charges (well not my NiMH cherger, those batteries are safe and need a full uninterrupted charge).

          So you will happily let the smart meter read and bill you without any checking. Months, years go by and the letter comes through the post (you still have a letterbox dont you?) demanding you pay for the GIGAWATTS you used last month. You phone the power company, knowing that they will laugh with you at how silly the system has been, only they tell you tgo pay up. You cant believe it, you tell them how riduculous a notion it is that your household could have used gigawatts in a few months, totally crazy. They continue to tell you to pay up, the lights are turned off as they disconnect you remotely. Bailifs arrive, court date agreed for non-payment trial. Without power you have to borrow the neighbours PC and printer to try and print of statemenst and unsage information you never bothered to check on, you have lost the login details as you just "let it do it" and after 5 years of never signing up fully the system has gotten in a twist. Support lets you on eventually, and you start printing.

          To your horrow you see that the meter was fine till it slowy started reading higher and higher, only nobody caught it as no sod was checking it. The information sent to the little display somehow was out of step with the billing information, the display showed your current usage but the meter was billing more and more actual usage. After several months of not checking it the meter started reading insane usage figures, clearly to you its developed a major fault. But its up to you to convince them, the power company that the moneis owed are not real. YOU are the one at fault, a scrounger, a theif. YOU must go to court and prove it.

          It's getting cold outside and winter is coming, the kids are compalining of damp on the walls. No power, no lights, nothing till you get cleared of a dept that you know you shouldnt have.

          Sound familiar?

          Should do, that actually happened to some people after getting a smart meter. They are not proven, they are made cheap, they were (the SMETS2 ones) a national security risk BY DESIGN till MI5 stepped in and fixed them. Woking in IT, that gives me the heebie jeebies. I used to be a software tester and when MI5 step in to save the national grid from attack, I take note. Maybe I''l have one when SMETS3 comes out, till them I'll use the PROVEN and FUNCTIONAL dumb meter I still have, it is an asset and so many peopel believ athat which is why only 57% have moved over.

          I know what my meter says, I read it every month.

          But in this day and age, youd like to be oblivious.

          1. ChoHag Silver badge

            Are you suggesting that the computer might make a MISTAKE?

            1. druck Silver badge

              Do Fujitsu make smartmeters?

              1. JimboSmith Silver badge

                That made me laugh out loud, have an upvote.

          2. Tom 38

            Funny, I can see my usage history from my smart meter whenever I like, if I wanted to see my OG electricity meter I needed to make an appointment with the landlord.

        2. teebie

          " Manually reading a meter and entering the readings is really not something that belongs in this day and age."

          This sentence is giving me 'man in an advert who cannot wind up a vacuum cleaner cord' vibes.

      5. ske1fr
        FAIL

        Hahaha, smart water meters?

        I'm involved in trying to help a relative figure out why their water bill has gone from a few tens of pounds a quarter to more than two hundred. Strange, they were in hospital for some of that time,and the loo was blocked for several days, not the cistern leaking, no leaks anywhere in the property. Lift the lid of the meter, and what's all this clear water in there making it impossible to see the meter that was allegedly read a couple of weeks ago? How is an electronic meter supposed to function underwater? No chance. No rain for weeks either...methinks the main is leaking.

      6. Mr. Flibble

        They are - I've just had a letter to say we are scheduled to have one :(

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          If you'd like to pay for everybody's water in your neighborhood, I'm sure you'd make friends. Either you get billed for your usage or you pay an equal portion of a much larger group which means that nobody in that group has a large incentive to use water responsibly. I live on my own so I don't want to split the fees with the apartment buildings full of breeders a couple of blocks away where they wash their cars every day.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      7. JimboSmith Silver badge

        I wrote most of this in 2016 when the smartenergygb website had these faqs https://web.archive.org/web/20160812182044/https://www.smartenergygb.org/en/faqs you remember those cartoon characters that caused mayhem in the adverts? Didn’t have them in my house so never got a smart meter.

        The meters are optional thankfully and anyone who wants to double check that they're not compulsory see the following:

        http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/do-i-have-to-accept-a-smart-meter

        http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111129/text/111129w0004.htm

        Now personally I won't be taking one or two as I prefer giving my meter readings over the phone/web but the SmartEnergyGB website (https://www.smartenergygb.org/en/faqs) FAQ page has some wonderful insights/answers. For example

        ......What is a smart meter?

        ......Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace the traditional meters, including prepay key meters, most of us currently have ticking away under the stairs, or outside our homes.

        Now call me cynical if you like but won't the cost of the meter and installation just get added to the bill they send me? It might not be that obvious they probably won't add a Smart Meter charge to my bill. It will probably just be that all the tariffs come with slightly higher prices. I just can't see the energy firms just stumping up for this roll out out of their own pockets. Smart Meters cost £340-£400 each I believe.

        So security:

        .......How secure are smart meters?

        .......The smart meter security system is very secure. Security has been at the heart of the whole smart meter rollout programme from its very inception and right through the design process. Smart meters have their own closed, dedicated communications system that employs technology widely used by, for example, the banking industry. Smart meters have been designed with top cyber security experts, including the government and GCHQ, to ensure that security best practice has been incorporated at every stage.

        Well Thank goodness for GCHQ then because according to an article on the inquirer.net (I couldn't find it on El Reg) the original plans for the meters had one single decryption key for all the meters. Now I may not be a top security boffin or even boffing a top security boffin but I do know that's not a really good idea. Apparently neither do GCHQ who thankfully had things changed.

        http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2451793/gchq-intervenes-to-prevent-catastrophically-insecure-uk-smart-meter-plan

        ......What are the technical standards that smart meters have to meet?

        ......Smart meters are covered by strict UK and EU product safety laws. These ensure that smart meters all have the same high quality and safety standards, regardless of your energy supplier.

        So everyone is hopefully 100% clear now on the technical standards after reading that? So we move on to:

        ......What health and safety tests have been carried out on smart meters?

        ......The smart meters used in Britain have undergone one of the most rigorous safety testing regimes in the world and exceed every UK and EU safety standard. Public Health England, the government's agency on public health, has said that exposure to radio waves from smart meters is well within guideline levels, and is many times lower than the exposure from wifi and mobile phones.

        So everyone is clear now on the exact health and safety tests after reading that? Oh good.

        So we move on to:

        ......Does a smart meter mean my energy can be cut off more easily?

        ......No. You’re protected by strict regulations against your energy supplier switching off or disconnecting your gas or electricity supply. This protection remains as strong with smart meters as it is with traditional meters.

        So from that can I deduce that there won't be a provision in the meter to cut off the supply remotely? Well no I can't because it doesn't mention anything (technical or otherwise) about the ability of the people I pay for my energy (or some nefarious player) to remotely disconnect my supply. There are supposedly safeguards in place to prevent lots of disconnections at once. That won’t help the elderly couple who are fat finger disconnected on a cold winters Friday afternoon and can’t get reconnected until Monday morning when there’s someone at the suppliers. It might be too late by then. If it’s a dumb meter they have to actually have access to the property to disconnect so how is it not easier for the smart meter which doesn’t require access?

        This has cock up written all over it and I won't be having it in my house thank you

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "The meters are optional thankfully and anyone who wants to double check that they're not compulsory see the following:"

          My supplier used to contact me on a fairly regular basis "offering" a smart meter. Then they started sending letters saying they'd booked and installation date for a smart meter, "please reply and confirm". All either actively refused or in the case of appointments, ignored. I think they finally got the message and gave up on me. I've not heard anything about smart meters from them in a year or so :-)

      8. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        These smart meters do nothing to throttle to power being consumed...

        For now. Wait until v2 comes around (now with AI, crypto and ChatGPT!) and watch your power being cut because terrist/think of the children/save the planet/...

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Don't need remote disconnect

          I keep reading about "they'll switch off your power!". I believe SMETS1 and 2 meters have no switch. They don't need one. This is why the display is necessary - you will see the current price of electricity and switch off yourself! The purpose of smart meters always was demand management through "dynamic pricing", a fact that was mentioned in the trade press, but mysteriously not mentioned in any of the customer-facing ads. I've seen the SMETS3 consultation, and remote disconnect is one of the requested features.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't need remote disconnect

            I did say for now, didn't I?

          2. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Don't need remote disconnect

            I keep reading about "they'll switch off your power!". I believe SMETS1 and 2 meters have no switch. They don't need one.

            I believe that your belief may be mistaken as GCHQ disagree with your assertion, and they were involved in the specifications for these things.

            Now, let's suppose that despite the security controls put in place by an energy supplier, an attacker compromises an electricity supplier system and starts sending lots of disconnect commands. Firstly, they can only send valid commands to meters where this supplier has ownership; they can't do anything at all to meters bound to other suppliers because they simply don't have the keys that those meters will trust.

            Let’s also assume the attacker wants to disconnect all the meters that this supplier runs. Since he's compromised the supplier system, he can generate the disconnect messages and correctly sign them using the supplier's identity. He then sends them off to the DCC to have the authentication code (which only the DCC can generate) added to the message, and have the messages delivered to the meters. There's a function in the DCC called 'anomaly checking' and it does what it says on the tin - looks for weirdness. In the case of disconnect commands, we don't expect many to be sent on a daily basis. So, there's a simple counter in the DCC. If it sees too many disconnects being sent, it just raises an alarm and stops the messages being routed on.

            my bolding in the above

            https://web.archive.org/web/20170701222013/https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/articles/smart-security-behind-gb-smart-metering-system

          3. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Don't need remote disconnect

            Both SMETS1 and SMETS2 are required to have a disconnect switch.

            It's always been part of the specification.

            It's actually why GCHQ got involved, as there was basically no serious protection to prevent a script kiddie drawing a cock'n'balls visible from LEO.

            Which would incidentally cause massive damage to electrical equipment, fires and damage or destroy the local grid and even generators. Suddenly shedding a significant proportion of the local or national grid load would cause huge frequency and voltage excursions.

            1. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Re: Don't need remote disconnect

              You can’t be talking about the proposal to use a single decryption key for smart meters communications can you. What could possibly go wrong with that?

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Quite.

      I'm more aware of my energy usage than most people - I record it every month on a spreadsheet straight from the (dumb) meter, have done for years, I label ALL my appliances with their draw (average, not maximum), and I know exactly how much is running all the time.

      For 5 years I lived in a rented flat and in the last year eventually coaxed a smart meter out of them (after two failed installs because Siemens apparently don't know what storage heaters are). But that was to stop me having to TOP UP the pre-pay meter by cash in a shop (the shop refused cards and was the only one nearby... none of the large supermarkets will let you top up!). With a smart meter, I was able to top-up by app.

      But I never referred to the smart meter for energy usage, I know what I'm using already. And it was an all-electric house.

      Then I bought a house last year and moved in. Again... all electric. Again, old meter with storage heaters and three different tariffs. I asked for a smart meter. "Not in your area yet".

      But equally they wanted to charge me on the basis of 3500KWh / year for a tiny house with one person. Er... no. I know exactly what my usage is, thanks. I don't care what the previous guy used (for a start, I removed 1.5KW of light bulbs in the first day and replaced them with brighter LEDs for less than 100W total), I know my total usage because I track it and I know what I run and when. 3500KWh is about three times too much. They're still "confused" how I'm constantly over-paying them and not using much electricity, even over the cold winter, and they owe me about three months electricity payments at the moment, but I'll let them do the maths when it comes up to an entire year and get some nice Christmas presents with that money.

      Even when I submit the actual dated photos of my meter on all three tariffs, they still can't correct the bills or estimates properly. If you think I'm lying, send a guy out to check!

      I did the same with water... moved in and demanded a water meter. They had to dig up my drive to do so. I don't know what the previous guy was doing but it literally cost one-tenth of their "estimate" (based on council tax banding from the 90's for the property, apparently) once the meter was recording my actual usage. The first meter reading they asked me for was literally 0. Less than 1 cubic meter - 1000 litres of water. They didn't believe me and I saw a guy come out and check the meter they'd installed the month before on my cameras.

      The way that smart meters save money for consumers is because you get away from "estimates" and terrible metering policies, they can't profit from the interest on your held credit that they KNOW is wrong but refuse to do anything about. So you pay less, pay only what you're using and don't have to have it constantly be wrong. They don't save energy at all, unless you're really dumb and are just burning electric without a care in the world and then the problem is not the meter.

      And the other factor is: Every bit of electricity I use, I use for a purpose. I don't just burn money for the sake of it. I need light to see, to heat my home, to run my appliances, etc. There's no "cutting back" available to me. I run what I need, and I work for a living to pay for some modern conveniences on top. Even "shifting" my usage doesn't help... I am not going to run my A+ efficiency washer- dryer at night without me being awake, and I don't care how good my smoke alarms are, it's not going to happen. I'm not going to delay dinner just to help an under-provisioned network that I'm paying for. And I'm not going to turn my heating down from its 20C-in-the-living-room and above-dew-point-everywhere-else bare minimum that is the only heating I ever use (and have only for about 2 months of the year or so?).

      I want a smart meter, but it has nothing to do with measuring usage or saving money. It's to do with holding the electricity companies accountable for their supply and stopping them profiting off interest on funds they demand that I pay in advance even though I know I will be refunded them months later.

      And if I wanted to measure usage, I'd pay an electrician to fit a meter in the fusebox - you can literally just buy a DIN-rail block that can do everything a smart meter does for you, even bluetooth the data to your phone directly, and it just fits in a standard fusebox. They're about £50.

      Fact is, I'm now spending my "savings" from the above on putting in solar panels and a battery bank and - no - I'm not going to feed them back to the grid. You build your own infrastructure. I'm doing it to provide independence from the electricity grid, and have it run all the easy "leech" loads (like computer equipment and CCTV cameras) that run all the time but don't pull much power. When the power goes out, I plug in low-power bulbs and my laptop into the solar, I've done it several times and it works great, and the kit I have can run the fridge or freezer in an extended outage (but never quite got that long an outage to justify pulling out their plugs and moving them).

      I'd love to have a smart meter. But the fact is that I'm far more interested in why the electricity companies HAVEN'T managed or cared to roll them out yet. The answer is that people will start demanding to be paid only for what they've used, especially in tough times like recently.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        You need to get a better supplier then...

        Octopus generally get good reviews, and I've found them to be pretty good.

        Referral bonuses are actually paid, you can choose your own payment date and payment value on the website.

        They also have tariffs which work really well for people with PV/battery systems.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Smart meter installs are controlled by companies like Siemens on behalf of the energy companies.

          It's not the energy company that blocks it.

          But the atrocious guesswork is common to all credit electricity, as they'll only ever base it off historical usage or your "expected" consumption for the first year or so.

      2. skein

        Aside from the hoot you undoubtedly are at parties, good rant!

        If I may pull you up about one thing: everything I have read about washer/dryers stated they have absolutely awful energy efficiency. The cheapest separate washer and dryer will save you a ton of electricity and actually wash and dry your clothes.

        Yes, I often found myself in the kitchen at parties, too.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Plug them both into a meter.

          Try it.

          Because I have. That's why the old washer and dryer that I inherited from the previous owner of my house is in the garage and a new, small heat-pump condenser washer-dryer runs once a week after the dishwasher is done.

          Honestly, the washer-dryer barely figures in my energy usage. Technically my dishwasher pulls more power (60 degree washes rather than 40 degree).

          The fridge-freezer, however, is surprisingly "low power" and on a duty cycle to cool, but it's on constantly so that actually ends up pulling a whole load more over time.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Because I have. That's why the old washer and dryer that I inherited from the previous owner of my house is in the garage and a new, small heat-pump condenser washer-dryer runs once a week after the dishwasher is done.

            My dryer's solar powered, so doesn't cost me any electricity. It just cost me a bit of line. With some practice in hanging stuff while it's still damp, most creases drop out so I don't need to waste energy (SSE or ATP) on ironing either. My dishwasher's powered by ATP.

            I guess for washer/dryers, councils and apartment living doesn't help, especially when councils ban hanging washing outside. Inside, I guess you're at the mercy of how super-insulated you've made your home, and thus how much mold is going to eventually grow due to damp from washers/dryers/coooking.

      3. teebie

        "The way that smart meters save money for consumers is because you get away from "estimates" and terrible metering policies, they can't profit from the interest on your held credit"

        As far as I can tell, for most tariffs, the energy company makes an 'honest' estimate of your yearly usage, divides it by 12, then charges that fixed amount every month.

        Somehow this always results in them profiting from the interest on your held credit.

    3. munnoch Bronze badge

      | People already know that devices use energy...

      A surprisingly large number of people don't know the difference in energy consumption between the tumble dryer and the little red light on the front of the telly when its on standby. But even if you do know the difference, if you need clean, dry clothes for work/school tomorrow what are you supposed to do? Its a fairly facile argument and in no way justifies billions of expenditure.

      The real reason for smart meters is so that variable tariffs can be foisted on us. Think UBer surge pricing. Want a cup of tea when you come home at 5pm? That'll be a tenner thanks to boil the kettle because its 'peak' time. Personally I don't mind, I pretty much time shift all my big loads, but I doubt if the discount at quiet times will cancel out the premium at busy times.

      And if that doesn't stop the grid going into melt down due to all the extra load from EV's and HP's then the remote kill switch will. Maybe if those billions had been spent on extra generating capacity and reinforcing the grid??? But that's big boy stuff compared to sending out a guy in a white van with a bunch of little boxes and a screwdriver.

      We are World Leaders...

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        The grid won't go into meltdown from EVs and HPs - as those running the grid consistently keep telling people.

        The discount rate can easily be enough to save more than the peak rate will cost; and the more people who manage to time shift the better - lowering the peak usage is one very important target here.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          "The grid won't go into meltdown from EVs and HPs - as those running the grid consistently keep telling people."

          Same people telling us they also need billions of upgrades to cope?

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            They reckon the fast charger network will cost a billion...

            Besides which a billion is pocket change on national infrastructure... it's what National Highways spend on maintaining less than five thousand miles of roads.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Just realised I should clarify it's what National Highways spend *every year* on maintaining those roads.

              But looking at roads - The UK drives 297 billion vehicle miles annually.

              And since 2010 UK electricity demand has dropped 19% (83TWh).

              Even at a relatively poor 3.5m/kWh that's ~300 billion car miles.

              Yes HGVs use more energy per mile, but the fact that the two numbers line up so well was sufficiently surprising that I thought it worthy of a comment.

        2. Mishak Silver badge

          I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

          They are currently a light user - 1,250 kWh a year, and pay £600 on a "regular" tariff.

          The EV will add on about 3,400 kWh a year for the number of miles they do.

          Adding the EV onto the current tariff pushes the cost to £1,690 a year, but that can be reduced to £885 a year by switching to a better tariff - though the domestic contribution to the bill will increase by about 5% due to higher costs during the day.

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

            £1690 a year is £140 a month, or thereabouts.

            I'm guessing they won't even be saving much money on fuel, either.

            Now add on the cost of the EV, the charger, the electrical work to install a charger at home, etc.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

              Yes - take the max they could spend and add on their household usage to get their fuel bill... /s

              They can pay £885 by selecting an appropriate tariff, or ~£285 more than they currently pay by adding an EV and switching tariff.

              That's less than £25 a month, and 3400kWh/year is likely 12-14k miles so that's £25 for a thousand miles - 2.5p per mile.

              Compared with an ICE which gets 50mpg at 144p (RAC national average today) at 13p/mile or £1600 of fuel a year.

              So yes, that's one hell of a saving (£1300 in the first year alone)

            2. Mishak Silver badge

              Re: I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

              The car needed replacing as the last one was an insurance right-off (no injuries, luckily).

              The cost can be an issue, but they managed to get a dealer "demo" vehicle (5k miles) for the same price as the equivalent spec hybrid, so it was effectively "cost neutral" - comparing the new prices (before haggling and discounts) would have lead to something like a 10k price premium, but that's not all lost as the resell value will also be higher when it is moved on.

              The cost of the charger and its installation will be more than covered by the first year savings on fuel, road tax and ULEZ charging.

              And the other benefit is it's really nice to drive!

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

                Vehicle tax... road tax was abolished in the 1930s.

                1. Mark Ruit

                  Re: I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

                  If we are going to be picky, it is actually Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). "Excise" (apparently) because it is a unitised cost - per vehicle - rather than based on a value. UK VED is based - in theory - on emissions.

                  1. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

                    It's based in part on emissions... The vehicle is the important bit though - the tax has nothing to do with the roads.

                    And yes it's an excise duty, but that is still a tax, it's just not based on value.

                    Really it should be split into two components - an emissions part and a mass part.

        3. munnoch Bronze badge

          | lowering the peak usage is one very important target here.

          That's pretty much the same as saying we know we won't have capacity so instead lets introduce traffic shaping. All well and dandy but not what smart meters are being sold as

          1. Mishak Silver badge

            That's how it's always worked

            The local power distribution networks have a very low "per property" continuous power allowance - only a few amps (500-750W). They "get away" with this due to diversity - not everyone has everything switched on at the same time. There has never been enough capacity for every house to run "flat out" at the same time.

            For example, my average over 24 hours is less than 1 amp / 250W.

            The "evening peak" is covered as the cables and transformers are able to run at (or close to) full load without a problem, and can take substantial "over loads" (up to 150% of rated power) for many hours due to thermal lag.

            However, a street full of EVs charging at the same time could be a problem in some areas, as that would create high demand for a long-duration.

      2. Oddlegs

        "if you need clean, dry clothes for work/school tomorrow what are you supposed to do"

        Sure everyone suspects/knows that their tumble dryer uses a lot of power but it's a bit more visceral when your smart meter turns red and tells you that you're currently burning through electricity at £1/hour. Hopefully that'll encourage people to dry their clothes overnight instead of at 5pm

        "but I doubt if the discount at quiet times will cancel out the premium at busy times"

        I have a smart off peak tariff from Octopus and the discount at quiet times more than cancels out the premium at busy times. My last bill shows an average unit rate of 17.72p/kWh which is considerably below the single rate on their default tariff of 30.72p/kWh.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          You have to be mad to leave a dryer washing clothes unattended while you're asleep.

          1. Oddlegs

            Any remotely modern tumble dryer is going to be plenty safe enough. They all come with delay timers built in for the express purpose of turning on when someone isn't around to monitor

            1. tiggity Silver badge

              NO....NO... Never run a tumble dryer unattended.

              I might be biased, I speak as someone who had their (fairly recent model) tumble dryer replaced, precisely because that model had firestarter tendencies!

              https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jul/22/whirlpool-recalls-half-a-million-tumble-dryers-from-uk-homes

              And in true modern day capitalism **** the consumer style, look at how long the risk was known about and how little was done initially.

        2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          "quiet times more than cancels out the premium at busy times" it does now. Not for long!

          1. Mishak Silver badge

            Citation required

    4. hammarbtyp

      Give us the data

      To understand smart meters you need to understand one thing. The benefit is for the energy company not the consumer. Smart meters allow energy companies to reduce costs, get detailed usage info and fine tune tariffs. The consumer gets a free box that is basically useless in its avowed function to save energy costs.

      What would make the difference would if I by law should have free access to the historic data so I could use it to plan and analyse my energy usage. I have a app that sort of does this and it was only by looking at historical pattern I found ,50% of my usage was my teenage daughter in the shower. A problem we shifted by sending her to uni.

      But the app does not show solar cell output, not can I combine it with other data sources. If we all were allowed free access, services could be made on our data and we would control how it benefits us.

      As it is, energy companies get the benefit and we get a plastic toy with a few leds

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Give us the data

        @hammarbtyp

        "As it is, energy companies get the benefit and we get a plastic toy with a few leds"

        If it was true that it was to the benefit of the energy companies I doubt we would have issues of the government being the ones complaining about the slow roll out. This is government pushing the off switch after spending our energy budget on toys. We dont have enough energy, start turning people off.

        1. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: Give us the data

          @codejunky "If it was true that it was to the benefit of the energy companies I doubt we would have issues of the government being the ones complaining about the slow roll out."

          It is because it is true the roll out has been slow. The government and the energy companies have failed to convince the public that smart meters benefit anyone other than the energy companies. The public are not legally required to have smart meters, you have the right to refuse a smart meter if you don’t want one.

          The reason the target date keeps getting moved is not due to a lack of trying on the energy companies part. They have harassed, bullied and even misled customers into thinking smart meters are a legal requirement to get smart meters fitted. The main reason is that a lot of customers are refusing to sign up for them.

          My electric provider for the past 5 years has been sending me a letter every quarter asking to fit a smart meter. I told the no the first time, but still the letters come, only to go straight in the bin.

          1. Mark Ruit

            Re: Give us the data

            Then you have five years more, at best. The certification on an electicity meters run out after 10 years maximum (a few are shorter), and the supply compny is required by law to replace an out-of-certification meter with a freshsly-certified one. And my supllier's position was "We don't have any dumb meters, no-one is making them any more, nor are the ones we take out being re-certified because no-one is interested in doing that.". Clearly at least to some degree a porky, but it lft me unable to argue.

            Up until then I relied on a Geo to check my 'usage now' rate, and a daily read of the supplier's meter to track my overall usage. (The latter initially showed that the Geo (cable-clamp version) was originally way off and had to be adjusted, but at least that facility was there.)

      2. adam 40 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Give us the data, then cut you off.

        You forgot the USP for companies - remote cut off without needing access to the property.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: Give us the data, then cut you off.

          And,as we've been hearing recently, switching people to far more pricey pre-pay without needing a court order to enter premises.Making it easier to put the poorest customers on the most expensive tariffs.

      3. Mishak Silver badge

        Re: Give us the data

        No, the consumers also benefit - if the operators are not able to spread load over the day, they will need to re-enforce the networks and add more generation so that that peak demand can be satisfied. Guess who would get to pay for that? Is it sensible to have plant idling so that it can kick in only for the evening demand peak? It's much more cost effective to spread the load as much as possible and run plant to maximise its utilisation.

        Octopus do allow you to access historic smart data (though it was very slow last time I tried!), and they provide an API to allow real-time access to it.

        Edited to add:

        BTW - I agree that smart meter do not "save money". However, they can help people to reduce their use by showing them what they're using - for example, I noticed this morning that I had used more overnight than normal, and found that some kit had accidentally been left on in the office overnight!

    5. 43300 Silver badge

      "It's hard to see how smart meters are meant to save money in and of themselves."

      They aren't - that's just the story that was told when forcing them on people. What they are really for is data collection and to allow individual premises to be cut off by the supplier / government.

    6. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Stop

      Not everyone, I found my mum was turning off things like the kettle which used zero power, then was complaining of being able to use hair straighteners.

      Asked why, she was thinking having a cuppa or using hair straighteners would cost over £1 every time or something silly.

      I ended up getting her a plugin power thing and showed it cost pennies to boil the kettle. Things like the fridge cost the most but thats essential to keep on, things like turning off her old midi hifi system, yes that was fine.

      Afterwards I could tell she felt silly, found out she read about it on social media (Friend shared something which paniced her circle of friends so they all believed it, thankfully noone had brought a plugin power saver as FaceBook seems to have adverts for them) and saw some videos which backed it up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Turning off Facebook saves inordinate amounts of energy for all involved ...

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          I agree a dedicated forum, but I am not going to teach everyone how to use Tiktok Twitter or anything else (I don't use them and they don't interest me).

          It was bad enough when I seemed to be the only IT person they all knew trying to get Teamviewer working (Half the time it was click run)

      2. Lee D Silver badge

        Older generations are obsessed with lightbulbs too.

        I removed 1.5KW of bulbs from a house I moved into recently (halogens, incandescents, etc.) and replaced them with a few hundred watts - at most - of LED bulbs. There were literally scorch marks in the ceiling paint above some of them, because that's how hot they got.

        Yes, a 60W bulb on all day is a big cost. A 6W bulb, not quite so much.

        Standby mode? Nowhere near as big a deal as it used to be. They're often basing their stuff on generations-old data that's no longer relevant.

        Even kettles - I have a kettle, but for cups of tea I don't see the point in boiling a kettle only to let it cool much of the way before I can drink it, so I have a coffee machine with a plain hot-water adaptor that puts out at 60C or whatever (I don't know what it is exactly, but it's perfectly drinkable immediately) and only heats as much water as you ask for, and does it far quicker than a kettle. The machine uses one tenth of the power of a kettle. I use my kettle more for pre-heating water for cooking than anything else (a saucepan of water takes forever to come to the boil).

        Even your toaster, mine is 800W and barely on long enough to bother to measure. If it cost a penny to make toast, I'd be amazed, even at 50p per KWh.

        It's the long-draws like the fridge and freezer (mine apparently is only 160W on average, but obviously surges on startup). and heating. Literally £1 per hour at the above rate for a little 2KW room heater, obviously. That could be £10+ a day in the winter if you're not careful.

        Hell, my ex had an electric kiln that got to 1100C for hours, and the pricing for that that factored into the price of any individual bit of pottery wasn't actually that much. I think the clay used to cost more. And that used to make the meter (we had one of those old spinning-disc meters) go into spasms. But it was on a duty cycle and insulated so after the initial burst it wasn't actually doing much.

        In work, photocopiers can pull stupid amounts of power, especially if people keep turning them off in the day and it has to heat its fuser back up again. I had to put a meter on one to prove it to certain people, it was better just left in standby and at night it would go to sleep anyway so there was no need to manage it - and doing so just made it use more power.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Standby is a red herring

          It's legally required to be under 0.5W for all household products*.

          So that's 4.383 kWh per year, assuming it's on standby 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year.

          Which is currently 73p a year.

          *EU Eco Design Regulations, one of the things Rees-Mogg wanted to scrap without any Parliamentary oversight.

    7. MyffyW Silver badge

      Having recently got an EV, and being on an energy deal that ends in September I went looking for options for a split tariff (which would require me to get one of the cursed smart meters).

      For the dubious pleasure of paying 33% more for my daytime 'leccy they will let me get a somewhat discounted night time rate. But if you weigh up the difference between their normal tariff and the split one it was just £15 a year. And this for one of the most extreme use cases of charging up a massive Lithium battery.

      I'm pretty unconvinced.

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
        Go

        Time-of-use tariffs

        "Somewhat discounted" being 7.5p/kWh on Octopus, for six hours every night. Charge your car, load-shift the big stuff like tumble driers and washing machines into this time (but do make sure they are in good condition before you do this) and you will save loads. My last bill, the average unit price was 17.1p, and that was with little use of the car.

        GJC

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        £15 a year?

        I'd love to see those calculations, because either you're a *massive* user, or you basically never drive, or you've missed something.

        Remember that other loads can be moved as well, and that with an electricity rate lower than the rate for gas strange things happen, like the immersion heater being substantially cheaper than the boiler...

    8. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "It's hard to see how smart meters are meant to save money in and of themselves."

      The article isn't clear on who is saving that £56. Is it the consumer, which makes no sense, or the utility, as they don't have to read each meter individually.

      Time of Usage (TOU) is getting more important. If I have an EV the power company is going to want me to charge it in the wee hours when demand has been historically low rather than during peak usage hours. With a 'smart" meter, they can see when power is being consumed and charge me according to a variable tariff. For increasingly larger chunks of the network, they can also see how usage varies by time of day and time of year. It can even be correlated with weather conditions which might aid in planning both new construction/upgrades and when supplemental generation is warmed up to be brought online as needed.

      Tracking savings doesn't tell much of the story. By not needing to have an army of meter readers, it could be that the savings is in rates not going up rather than a ratio of what an average bill was this year vs 12 months ago.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        It's the company metering for the electricity that saves the money, not the consumer.

        There is no magic in function a "smart" meter that miraculously tells me what connected device is using what power, let alone which one is using the most.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Oh that is coming:

          https://www.information-age.com/drax-ai-smart-meters-14634/

          This article is brought to you by the people who think deforesting North America is 'green' and reads like a bullshit bingo checklist you expect to get from PHB. Basically they are trying to use the electrical noise and consumption pattern to determine what is running in your house.

          At what point does 'energy needed to run the smart stuff' exceed the energy saved?

      2. nijam Silver badge

        > For increasingly larger chunks of the network, they can also see how usage varies by time of day and time of year

        They don't need smart meters for that, if they don't already know they're incomptent.

    9. Tom 38

      The real benefit is interesting time of day tariffs, and demand reduction schemes like we had last winter.

      Both of which rely on smart meters.

      The really interesting stuff is connected devices, letting your supplier control (to an extent) when your heat pump, EV car, or home battery is charged / active.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "The really interesting stuff is connected devices, letting your supplier control (to an extent) when your heat pump, EV car, or home battery is charged / active."

        That is the sort of thing I would never sign up for. I may have needs for any one of those things they don't know about and I don't care to discuss with them. The decision should be left to me whether paying a higher tariff if it's worth it. If I get a call that my mother is in hospital, I might want to start charging my EV right away while I get ready to go see her or so I'm ready to go should it be necessary with a full charge in the battery. I may want the house warmer or cooler. The home battery would be best programmed to recharge when rates are at their lowest.

        What's needed are the tools to program in set decisions based on cost, time of day and other factors with a way to override those settings as required.

    10. wimton@yahoo.com

      A smart meter can give a consumer immediate and detailed information about his consumption. This enables him to adjust this by switching things off "I did not know that was using so much" or moving consumption to cheaper hours. That is where the 5%reduction comes from. After a few months of optimizing the new consumption stays the same.

    11. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "People already know that devices use energy..."

      Really? Honestly, most people think it's magic and it just comes from the wall. I've talked with family members and get whining from them when I tell them how to reduce their bill since I'm the one with the engineering degrees. They'd just die or never be able to get through the day if they had to .............. I've had roommates that would get home and set the thermostat to max because the house is cold and they want it to heat up quickly. They then leave it on until it's uncomfortably hot and then turn it off. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. The tutorial on how the heater only has two speeds, on and off, and they should just set the temp and leave it goes right over their head. I finally just wired a programmable thermostat on the other side of the wall which was in my office and they never twigged that he old manual one didn't do FA. Even the grandpas that knew how everything works are dying out. The younger generations aren't interested and won't be until they run out of grandpas, anybody's grandad that can fix something for them. There is still some hope. The restoration videos on YouTube get lots of views.

    12. hoola Silver badge

      Given that the German government looked at Smart Meters and came to the conclusion there was no real benefit when all the costs were taken into account, it rather suggests that efficiency and savings are not the agenda driving this.

      Smart Meters have two purposes:

      Allow remote disconnection of customers

      Make money for the people making and installing them.

      Maybe I am just cynical.

      As far as I am concerned a Smart Meter gives me no useful information. I already know that when the kettle is switched on it costs more than when it is not.

      My mother (85) ended up with some sort of smart display in the house and promptly went into a panic we she could see how much turning on the toaster, kettle (or heater in winter) costs. It was completely irrelevant that her overall usage was low and affordable. In winter we discovered the house was cold because she would not turn on the heating because of the "Cost" on the dipslay.

      I took the gizmo out and everything returned to normal.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Allow remote disconnection of customers

        Make money for the people making and installing them.

        Maybe I am just cynical."

        Yep, I'd go with cynical (takes one to know one and all that).

        If you don't pay your bill and they are going to shut off your power, they'll do that with or without you having a smart meter. They'll chop the lines leading to your home if that's what it takes and you will have to pay to have them reconnected if they can't access your meter to turn you off that way. If you couldn't afford your bill to start with, the cost to re-install the lines is out of the question.

        An upside is they can turn power on more quickly while getting a reading when you start service at a new home. You don't have to wait around all day for somebody to show up and perform the incantation in person.

        Without a "smart meter" there's no way to get a Time-of-Use tariff. That makes many ways of reducing your bill moot since you'll just pay a moderately high flat rate 24/7.

  3. Alien Doctor 1.1

    screw 'em

    I have lost count of the number of times I have had to tell my dual fuel supplier to piss off, as I will only consent to them being installed if it doesn't add to my bills and that I can first audit the code to check what data is being monitored, what is sent and whether they then analyse that data for privacy invading reasons (for example calculating how many cups of tea I make a day and what tv programs I may watch.)

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: screw 'em

      Audit what code?

      Do you need to audit the processor design as well, and the compiler code, and how do you verify that the firmware is the code you saw, or was compiled using the compiler you saw....

      They get half hourly usage data (if you approve that data sharing) - this allows them to bill you.

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: screw 'em

      It is not so much the code but how & where the data is used.

      It is uploaded many times a day - that means that the supplier can see when usage suddenly drops and so deduce that you are away. All it then takes is a sysadmin under financial pressure to run a script and share who is on holiday with his made Burglar Bill.

      The ability to delay readings being uploaded by 2 weeks would make me feel much happier.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: screw 'em

        There is an element of truth to this. I say truth - there is a real risk of this from happening. It's probably even happening now.

        You're reliant on the energy company having the discipline to silo their admins so that one admin can't access the bill data and the customer meter details. We've seen time and again that companies are fucking woeful at protecting customer data. So it may not even need to be an admin, it could be a temp on the customer service desk who could get this information.

        The problem is, the energy companies have to ask their customer's a minimum of once a year about smart meter installation. The minimum is set by the government, and I say minimum because Scottish Power would ring me every month about having one. Bulb, latterly Octopus, were once a year more or less. The people ringing you aren't even really working for the energy company I don't think, they're subcontracted to make the call. So they can't realistically give you the assurance that the above can't happen.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: screw 'em

          The minimum is set by the government, and I say minimum because Scottish Power would ring me every month about having one. Bulb, latterly Octopus, were once a year more or less. The people ringing you aren't even really working for the energy company I don't think, they're subcontracted to make the call.

          Neither care, and both are scumbags. They're only following orders, ie the Government made them do it. Scottish Power calls me to ask me if I want a "smart" meter, I say "Ok", and nothing ever happens. Both regularly tell me how much they're saving the planet and how much they're investing in "renewables", but neither can give a good answer why their "100% renewable" tariffs inflated so much due to the "Russian gas crisis". But both Scottish Power and Octupus make millions from "renewable" subsidies, so have been very happy with their windfalls. They're keen on "smart" meters for remote disconnect and the ability to create innovative new tariffs, much as Enron used to do.

          Shame we can't have true smart meters that can take a 30min or 1h rates feed and automatically switch to buy units from the cheapest provider. That would, however benefit the users, not the supplier, and help make energy costs go down, not ever upwards.

      2. ChoHag Silver badge

        Re: screw 'em

        Sysadmin? You think they protect the database?

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: screw 'em

          Database? You mean the flat file they keep in an unsecured aws bucket?

      3. nijam Silver badge

        Re: screw 'em

        > ... share who is on holiday with his made Burglar Bill

        That's progress, then... it used to be just the milkmen. "What milkmen?" I hear you say - so now you know the real reason we need smart meters.

    3. Oddlegs

      Re: screw 'em

      I will only consent to them being installed if it doesn't add to my bills

      I hate to break it to you but you're already paying for the smart meter rollout. May at least get one installed and get some, albeit small, benefit. You're also fully entitled to only allow your supplier to take readings monthly.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: screw 'em

      If they make them compulsory I’ll just Faraday cage the damn thing, Shouldn’t be too hard to do.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: screw 'em

        "If they make them compulsory I’ll just Faraday cage the damn thing, Shouldn’t be too hard to do."

        So they can't get a reading? Fine, they'll send you an 'estimated bill' which will be at least 10% more than you'd pay unless you don't have the history and they charge you 30% more than average to CTA. Every quarter or so they'll just bill you for sending somebody out to take a manual reading when they discover you've screened them out.

        What was your hypothesis/conspiracy reason for wanting to block this? The meters are compiling usage in 30 minute chunks. Even if you boiled a kettle, they don't see that usage precisely enough to know that's you did. If they really cared, there would be a van parked outside your home will all sorts of detection gear built in so they'd know that every day at exactly 4pm, you put the kettle on. They'd write that down and put it in your file just in case they need to poison your tea or catch you messing about with tea things and therefore less able to repel an arrest.

        The thing that bugs me about smart meters is the one they fitted on my house is so cheap it doesn't have an option for a remote meter inside the house. If I want to know how much power something is consuming, I have to go out to the meter and wait until it cycles through the display to see current usage, go back inside and shut off the item, go outside to the meter and see the change while hoping the fridge didn't kick on and skew things. I have a kill-o-watt, but it's not always convenient to use. It also doesn't work to see total household usage.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: screw 'em

          I already give them meter readings once a month via the web and my bills are therefore accurate.

          I use economy 7 electricity and I know what uses the most electricity in my house and, where I can I use those appliances sparingly.

          I have a timer in my shower to make sure I don’t spend too longer than a minute in there.

          I follow all the other “reduce your energy consumption guidelines” and have solar powered lighting where I can.

          All my bulbs are either compact fluorescent or LED.

          What is a smart meter going to do for me that I haven’t already done to reduce my consumption?

          The existing meter is electronic and was only changed a few years ago - why should I get another one?

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: screw 'em

            I already give them meter readings once a month via the web and my bills are therefore accurate.

            I wouldn't be so sure about that. But probably as close as you're going to get.

            I use economy 7 electricity and I know what uses the most electricity in my house and, where I can I use those appliances sparingly.

            That's.. unfortunate. The good news is you already have a solution that pre-dates "smart" meters, and is probably more effective. People on "smart" meters have already been dangled bungs to time-shift energy usage to off-peak. E7 users have been doing this for years, automagically with a bit of a tone burst added to Radio 4. Which is also the "accurate" bit, like E7 relies on a radio signal to switch the meter into off-peak mode. In a previous house, there was a loud <clunk> from a relay when that happened. But what happens if it doesn't get the signal, or the signal is delayed, or not sent?

            Especially when the deal used to be slightly more expensive peak and cheaper off-peak rates. Now, E7-style tariffs tend to be more expensive because they fall outside some Ofgem price cap rules, so they're yet another way energy companies can screw their customers. It's a great way to highlight the hypocrisy of energy companies, green scumbag lobbyists and the governments. An E7 customer is likely to be "low carbon", because they're probably using electricity for heating and cooking. If they're on a "100% renewable" tariff, use the bulk of their energy off-peak, then they should get very cheap electricity, ideally with some subsidies lopped off the bill for being "Net Zero" pioneers.

            And yet they don't, and like much of the whole "renewables" scam, the Greener you try to be, the more it costs you and the more you're ripped off.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: screw 'em

              As I said it’s electronic and it doesn’t rely on the 198khz signal. When it was being installed I asked whether the location would affect it given LW was washed out on the ground floor. The bloke said it doesn’t use that it has a clock instead. The one before I bought the place was much older and did need the LW signal, it was swapped out the day I moved in.

        2. ChoHag Silver badge

          Re: screw 'em

          So if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear?

          MOAR CHEAP CRAP!

  4. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    Marvellous success

    The government and energy companies can pretend to be doing something, while not actually finding a cheaper energy source

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still resisting the blandishments

    Even though I've told my supplier that I have no intention of getting a smart meter, I still regularly get post, email and texts urging me to do so. The latest one is to tell me that my meter uses the 198kHz Radio 4 auxiliary signal to switch my meter (not true, it has a self-contained timer), so they have to change it as that swiching signal is disappearing (true). We shall see. I can see the govt just forcing the leccy companies to use the switch in these meters for load shedding when panic sets in. We saw a government panicking during the pandemic and the sight and the consequences weren't pretty!

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Still resisting the blandishments

      I actually have such a meter. I googled it out of interest and then went down the rabbit hole of that signal.

      Given that I knew quite a bit about things like the MSF signal, I'm surprised that I didn't know it even existed!

      But that signal has just been extended by another year, I believe. I would quite like to change out that antiquated kit, if for no other reason than to ditch my three-tariff nonsense that I inherited from the previous owner. Last time I asked for a smart meter, they said it wasn't available in my area yet. Which is ridiculous when we're years overdue for the entire country.

      That signal is already used for load-shifting, it's why it exists, basically.

      But if you want independence, and you're a home owner, just start investing in your own solar and batteries. Any vaguely-decent sized house can generate enough to run the house nowadays, even in the UK. That's what I'm doing.

      There is a point I envisage where I will decide whether it's worth telling the grid to just cut me off. I'll get a few years of energy independence under my belt, and see what the cost is to maintain a grid connection for a bare minimum as backup, but I can honestly see a point where I won't need the grid at all.

      And around that same time, electric cars will mean I don't need to pay a fuel station or charging point either. Sure, something else will suck up those funds, I have no doubt, but being able to power your house and your car without anyone else involved is a pretty good step to teaching electricity companies what it means to actually supply a service of value, and to have competition.

      1. Fonant

        Re: Still resisting the blandishments

        We have a pretty standard 4.5kWp PV installation here. Family of four with teenagers, we use around 12kWh per day, averaged over a whole year. We generate 13kWh per day, averaged over a whole year.

        Now if we had a 90% efficient storage system that could store 2,000 kWh for six months, we'd be self-sufficient in electricity.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Still resisting the blandishments

          "We have a pretty standard 4.5kWp PV installation here. Family of four with teenagers, we use around 12kWh per day, averaged over a whole year."

          Ok, what times of the day are you using power? If you use the bulk of your energy when the solar array isn't generating much, you are only getting a paltry amount of payback from a feed-in tariff that's likely to go down over time. I'd also say that there is no "standard" when it comes to solar. If you didn't have an independent consultant analyze your needs, you got sold what the installer wanted to sell you and not necessarily what you needed. Chances are that you'd have a "standard" 6kW installation if they thought they could get you to stretch your budget a bit more. All it not lost. You can still have a proper analysis done of how and where you are using power and you could have options to make better use of the panels you have installed. It might be a storage battery, it could be a thermal battery (sunamp.co.uk) or a hot water tank in various combinations and sizes. The last thing you want to use in your ROI calculations is a feed-in tariff that you have zero control over and could go away with no notice.

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: Still resisting the blandishments

            Not seen those sunamp units before. I do like the idea but heck they are serious £££! And the price doesn't even include the PV power diverter. Hopefully they will come down in price pretty quickly as they become more popular but currently 5-6x the price of hot water tank is a big no.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Still resisting the blandishments

              "I do like the idea but heck they are serious £££!"

              I agree. I don't know how much competition they have and what sorts of regulations/certifications they have to get. New stuff usually baffles the local planning board for at least a decade after it comes out so they'll put as many regulations in place as they can just to be sure, just to be safe. Sunamp is the only one I know off the top of my head. I'm planning on building my own. There are more and more companies making power diverters these days so that's not hard to cover. To get the best return on a thermal battery, you need to have a good data on how much heat you are using since electricity is more flexible so it could be that an electrical battery is a better choice sans good numbers. Since I plan to make my own thermal battery, it's as much an interesting project as anything else so I'm not too worried about it.

              A multi-input hot water tank is a small fortune too. I can get a replacement for my propane hot water heater for around $500 but a combi gas/electric is around $1,200 and something with a secondary loop to make use of tube system or other heat collector can push $2,000. The $1,500 difference would take me years to recoup.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Still resisting the blandishments

        Payback time for solar power is around 10 years+. It's probably well worth doing if you can without racking up huge interest payments. And aren't too much over 50.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Still resisting the blandishments

        "But if you want independence, and you're a home owner, just start investing in your own solar and batteries."

        The batteries are often hard to see any ROI for. They will get much cheaper when house batteries are mainly re-purposed EV batteries. A 60kWh pack that's lost 1/3 of its capacity is still 40kWh of storage. There are a few companies that sell the hardware to convert some EV packs to stationary use but not many. I just ran across somebody selling Tesla Model S modules at US$399 ea. Not bad for what should be 5kWh @ 24vdc. They'd still need an inverter and charging system attached.

        I'm chipping away at a solar system. There's a chest freezer in the garage now that's on solar/battery with a transfer switch to the mains if something goes wrong. I was really hoping to have a system up to run my swamp cooler (works well here in the desert), but the budget isn't there for it yet. Piece by piece I'll be taking things off the mains on onto solar starting with the lowest hanging fruit (best ROI). I'm avoiding making one big investment and having to pay interest on financing.

    2. Franco

      Re: Still resisting the blandishments

      I have a Smart Meter now, as I moved in to a new build house that had one already.

      However in my old flat I used to get emails from my utilities company regularly with pcitures of 80s/90s brick mobile phones saying "you wouldn't use a phone like this anymore, why do you use a meter from the same era?" as if that is in any way a valid comparison.

      I suspect the Government has other things on it's mind though, at least today anyway.....

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Still resisting the blandishments

        Mine has started telling me that my meter has come to the end of its life ("all good things come to an end"). I am dubious. What's the normal lifetime of a dumb meter?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still resisting the blandishments

          My supplier also said the meter was too old - house is about 50 years old. Maybe that's reasonable? Gas meter is certainly not as old, but both are being replaced regardless, and I have no choice about it.

          But I was given the option to have the smart functionality turned off which I'll take for now, so will continue sending in readings.

        2. Mark Ruit

          Re: Still resisting the blandishments

          In the UK,all electricity meters used for determining consumption charges require certification: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/electricity-meter-certification

          The certification is time limited. The list of certifucation periods is here:

          https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schedule-4-uk-nationally-approved-electricity-meters.

          Although some meters have certification lives of 25 years you can see that the majoriy are only 10 years: and the liklihood is that any domestic meter fitted 10 years ago is actually out of, or about to go out of certification. Although suppliers' records for earlier fitting are dire, they are catching up, and I only know of one meter well over its certification.

          It used to be that meters (the old rotating-disc ones) were refurbished and re-certified. But not these days: it is an excuse to fit a smart meter.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as someone who's got gas and electric smart meters, I'm not that impressed. Our smart gas meter only works as a dumb meter because it's broken, has never worked as a smart meter despite visits from engineers who agreed it was faulty, and the energy company who installed it refused to replace it after nagging us for months to get a smart meter installed. (And the ombudsman backed them up, saying they didn't have to give us a working one until 2025... but going by the article, I suspect that's an optimistic date.)

    The smart electric meter is good, but mainly because it allows us to export excess solar generation into the grid and get paid for it. (We were having solar panels installed, and had to get a smart meter installed, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered.)

    1. Electric Panda

      I know someone in the reverse of your situation. Their 'smart' gas meter is fine, but the electric meter is borked and nobody knows why.

  7. Roger Greenwood
    FAIL

    "..it was "confident" it would meet the new smart meter rollout date.."

    4 years later I am just as confident that they will not meet the rollout date. Quick - change the goalposts!

    So many problems with this scheme, many as described in the article. I think most folks by now will have either direct or indirect (bad) experience so it's not going to get quicker.

    I know personally folks who have been cut off by their own meter (software error - network oops) and many where the smart meters have gone dumb. I am just waiting for the network hack to take out a whole load in one go.

    Meanwhile we are paying for this in our bills, like it or not.

  8. Adair

    Boiled down to it's cynical bottom line ...

    privatised utilities are a money grubbing exercise for private investors. The 'customer' (you and I) certainly doesn't come first, and unless a Govt. chooses to grab the situation by the balls, and squeeze, the 'private utility entities' will always put profits, shareholders' dividends, and upper management's pay cheques in the front of the queue. Otherwise, the needs of citizens and society as a whole will always be addressed only in as far as the serve the interests of that troika.

    It's 'human nature', innit.

    Notionally 'Governments' are there to keep 'human nature' down to a dull background noise, mitigating it's excesses, and ensuring the welfare of all and the needs of the vulnerable are served properly and to the good.

    Yes?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Boiled down to it's cynical bottom line ...

      Notionally. From the citizen point of view.

      From the view of Boris Johnson, you're only good to be knifed in the back, tortured until you give up your banking details, then have your body stuffed under teh sofa while Johnson and his ilk empty your accounts and go party with some Russian oligarchs.

      But, apart from that, yeah, you're right.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Boiled down to it's cynical bottom line ...

      "privatised utilities are a money grubbing exercise for private investors"

      It's entirely possible you might be one of those via any non-state pension you might have.

      1. Adair

        Re: Boiled down to it's cynical bottom line ...

        I know, but that doesn't alter the reality.

  9. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    I don't see the cost saving angle.

    As a consumer, the rate offered for smart meter is same as for my existing meter, so no benefit

    From a supplier angle, I already have to take my own meter readings and send them in to the supplier via their app, so it's not saving them any admin costs. If anything it's costing them more for supplying the smart meter in the first place

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Get a better supplier then.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Get a better supplier then.

        By "better" do you mean "cheaper"? I don't know of any suppliers who cover my area and offer a discounted rate for having a smart meter

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Well, yes - you might need to do some work to figure out what your usage is, and therefore what tariff you can take advantage of.

          Even with a 40p peak rate I was paying an average of 27p (including SC) even before the PV and battery.

          You don't see the cost saving because you aren't prepared to look for the cost saving.

          1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

            Well, yes - you might need to do some work to figure out what your usage is, and therefore what tariff you can take advantage of.

            I did, and that's why I'm on the tarrif that I am with the supplier that I currently use.

            Even with a 40p peak rate I was paying an average of 27p (including SC) even before the PV and battery.

            This conversation is about smart meters. Are you saying you fouind a supplier who was charging you 40p per unit with a normal meter but discounted to 27p per unit when you had a smart meter fitted? If so, then please do tell who that is because I'll be signing up.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Almost - they were charging 34p without, and 27p (inc SC) with.

              The reason they can do that is that the smart meter opens up time of day tariffs, and even with the peak cost being raised to 40p, the savings in off peak power dropped my overall rate.

              Adding in the PV/battery system and this year I've paid an average of 10.2p (including the SC) this year.

              Obviously that cost me some money... to raise the total cost of energy to the profit guarantee rate (34p) I would need to amortise the cost of the installation over a little less than 5 years (and I'm including the SC in my pricing, so the payback is actually shorter still at current prices)

        2. Tom 38

          I don't know of any suppliers who cover my area and offer a discounted rate for having a smart meter

          Octopus Tracker will be back real soon - if you can voluntarily move your usage off the evening peak you'll make significant savings over SVR.

  10. NXM Silver badge

    Not smart at all

    I have a "smart meter" at my workshop which has never worked. I suspect it's because Octopus doesn't have a transceiver in the area and it works on something other than the mobile network.

    So it gives them the ability to get a government bung for installing it, while making me take the bloody readings. Even then, they only use the readings I send if I do it on the last 4 days of the month. If not, they wildly overestimate the power use and rob money from my account.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Not smart at all

      Nope - they're all talking to either telefonica or arquiva. The retailer doesn't need to set up to read smart meters.

      If it's smets1 then it might not have have had transferable data (which was a criminal oversight)

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Not smart at all

        If it's smets1 then it might not have have had transferable data (which was a criminal oversight)

        Agreed. For reasons too long and tedious to go into I've read and compared both the SMETS 1 and SMETS 2 specifications and the difference is like that between a young child's finger painting and an Old Master, especially in the section about communications and software upgrade security. GCHQ did a really good job on that for SMETS 2, and I'd like to know what idiot didn't ask them for help with SMETS 1.

        1. NXM Silver badge

          Re: Not smart at all

          It's SMETS2, installed a couple of years ago. Octopus just can't be bothered.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Not smart at all

            Can't be bothered? That's doesn't correspond with the experience of various people I know.

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: Not smart at all

              We're with Octopus. Lovely people but a bit haphazard on the technical and procedures side would be my description. Well meaning.

              1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Not smart at all

                Update on this. We normally let things run on autopilot as we have a PAYG direct debit in place but checked on the Octopus account over the weekend. Back in March we changed tariffs. They immediately decided we owed then £6,000+ and stopped taking any money on DD (obvs we would have noticed an attempt to take £6k). A snottagram was sent last night. No reply as of yet.

  11. Tubz Silver badge

    All i can say, is if Boris can be held accountable for alleged misleading and lying to Parliament, then the politicians, advisors, uncivil servants, energy cartels should be held accountable to the public for lying through their back teeth and knowing it was all a lie over energy savings and using go green as a reason to have them. We all know that at some point, they will use the meters to see who is using what energy at a specific point in the day and charge us accordingly, if they are not doing so already, as my meter reports weird usage spikes when nothing switched on, or maybe thats the automatic tax called a standing charge being applied that never gets spent on improving the distribution networks and used to bail out failed energy companies ???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      then the politicians, advisors, uncivil servants, energy cartels should be held accountable to the public for lying through their back teeth and knowing it was all a lie

      Ah, but they can't all be painted as evil tories, so no chance of anyone setting up a parlimentary commission to "investigate" the situation.

  12. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    FAIL

    Smart DCC, a subsidiary of Capita

    Oh ${DEITY}, that final clause explains so much.

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Smart DCC, a subsidiary of Capita

      There’s a reason Private Eye call it Crapita.

  13. Andy Non Silver badge
    FAIL

    Smart, my ass.

    I'm getting somewhat infirm, so reluctantly had a "smart" meter fitted so I didn't have to get on my hands and knees and crawl into the cupboard under the sink to do manual readings.

    The "Smart" meter hasn't worked properly since day one. The display unit only shows gas usage, which is very little, especially over the summer. It doesn't show electricity usage, never has done. I ended up reporting the fault to Shell energy on no less than ten occasions before they accepted there was a fault with the meter but... apparently it is beyond their ability to make it work as the fault is with the meter itself and down to the manufacturer to resolve (apparently). Then the smart bit completely failed and I had to climb into the cupboard again for several months to do manual readings again. It has since started transmitting usage again, but the info I'd really like to see, electricity usage, nope. Shell customer service is an utter shambles, utterly useless.

    1. Tubz Silver badge

      Re: Smart, my ass.

      Shell Energy ex-First Utility, say no more !

  14. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Bloody politicians with no understanding of engineering or physics. My meters are in my cellar, there is no signal coverage in the cellar, smart meters would be useless and I've been told by the meter people not to both. Yet I still keep getting pestering emails from my supplier, and politicians insist on an impossible 100% coverage.

    1. Franco

      My sister booked an appointment out of sheer frustration, after years of telling her company that she can't get a mobile signal at her house, so a smart meter is pointless. They duly came out, fitted it, spent a day trying to get it to work, removed it and left.

      The next week the spam continued....

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Keep booking appointments until they catch on. If the bean counters find their spam is costing them real money they'll stop. Eventually.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "My meters are in my cellar, there is no signal coverage in the cellar, smart meters would be useless"

      In my area, the electric company is using their own wireless network and not cellular. At least they aren't using cellular to read each meter, but they might send aggregated data that way from a central box on a pole that does have good reception.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Oh, you and the entire areas customers are screwed then, they are falling back on MESH Networking, which will exponentially hike your power usage by sharing ALL Nodes realtime data acoss the entire network just to reach the cell signal receiving node. expect seriously abnormal power usage reports even when there is no domestic power usage.

  15. Duncan Macdonald
    Flame

    Remember - "smart" electricity meters can turn off your supply

    All UK "smart" electricity meters have a built in relay that can disconnect the power. The main reason that the government wants "smart" meters is not for benefits for consumers but to ensure that the "unimportant" people can have their electricity turned off leaving enough power for the "important" people anytime that there is an electricity shortage.

    The metering function does not require a remote disconnect - it was insisted on by the UK government to ensure that the "important" people never had power outages.

    (The smart meter would cost less to make if instead of the relay it just had a wire link so there was no remote disconnect facility.)

    Icon for the lying B*S*A*D* who falsely promote "smart" meters ==========>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember - "smart" electricity meters can turn off your supply

      Oh they won't cut you off - that would be cruel.

      No, they can simply switch you remotely onto a wickedly expensive pre-payment tariff.

      So you can't afford it, and you cut yourself off. Then it's all your fault.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Remember - "smart" electricity meters can turn off your supply

        Oh they won't cut you off - that would be cruel.

        Nah, being cruel would be figuring out how to hack it then drive around transmitting a kill code. Or turning larger regions on and off again. UK was having a bit of an issue. Hot weather, very light winds, problems with interconnectors, and National Grid wanting our last antique coal stations warmed up and ready to go.

        On the plus side, this allowed f'ckwits like the Bbc to claim we got most of our electricity from 'renewables', because we.. kinda had to, and that only worked during daylight. As we continue to add expensive, unreliable and intermitent power, at the same time as we increase electricty demand, we just make the problem worse. So when demand > supply, things trip, sometimes with loud and expensive <bangs>. The tighter the margin between supply and demand, the easier it'll be to trigger this. So simply set up a FacePalm 'protest' group, or hijack an existing one like Extinction Rebellion, and get them to jump in a shower, boil kettles etc. This would obviously be a valid protest because when supply is tight, it's those evil fossil fuels that keep the lights on. 10 or 20 thousand useful idiots in a synchronised switch-on might be enough to Just Stop Grid.

        In the future, organising as a protest probably won't be necessary because it'll just happen when people get home from work, plug their cars in and try to make dinner.

    2. ChoHag Silver badge

      Re: Remember - "smart" electricity meters can turn off your supply

      The phrase you're looking for is "non-essential worker", remember?

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Remember - "smart" electricity meters can turn off your supply

      If my power goes out, my home does not as I have 33kWh of home battery installed and my car can output 3kW.

      Where is the 'up yours' icon?

  16. Electric Panda
    FAIL

    I knew someone who got a 'smart' gas meter. It somehow started counting from zero rather than the previous month's reading - they were hit with a bill for £4200. Nobody at the gas supplier noticed until he complained and it took another month to sort out, apparently there was no business logic or anomaly detection process for someone to think "There's been a colossal and abnormal spike in gas usage, let's investigate".

    That same person has found there was a problem with recording the electrical readings and they don't know why, despite the same unit handling gas just fine. Still not fully resolved.

    At my last place I had all manner of threatening marketing snottograms (and nothing truly official) from my supplier telling me to "ACT NOW" because of "government regulations" and it's a "legal requirement" to upgrade my meter because it was apparently end of life, which they say means it's broken and the numbers are obviously wrong. That's only partly true, the actual legislation doesn't really say what the electricity supplier claims it does. And in most rented properties you are simply not allowed to do that kind of work - at my last place it was a clear-cut violation of the tenancy agreement and explicitly prohibited.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ)

    So close to DesNutZ, so close.

  18. Howard Sway Silver badge

    7 percent through the rollout of the £13.5 billion project

    I've been phoned a few times by my supplier trying to make an appointment to fit a smart meter. Because I can't see the benefit, and don't want to sit around waiting hours for them to turn up, I always said no. The last time, they really tried to give it the hard sell, about how it would save me lots of time if they could get meter readings automatically. I pointed out that it wasn't in any way difficult for me to type a 5 digit number into a website 4 times a year, and they had no answer to that, just sort of immediately switched to "oh well, maybe you can get one in the future" and ended the call.

    I can think of much smarter and more productive things to spend £13.5 billion on, than such a trivially minor bit of automation.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: 7 percent through the rollout of the £13.5 billion project

      Being a touch OCD I have a spreadsheet which has all my meter readings. It lets me sanity check the numbers before submitting them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 7 percent through the rollout of the £13.5 billion project

      I know someone who was contacted by their supplier repeatedly, trying to get them to have a smart meter. He’s only got electricity so only one smart meter needed for reasons that will become obvious. He said if they wanted to fit one it would have to be done whilst he was at home. He gave them a time from 9:45pm until 6:45am every day when he said he’d be in, otherwise they could forget it. And…….well they didn’t like that and asked if someone else could let them in at a more reasonable time. He pointed out he lives in Scotland many many miles from his nearest neighbour and wasn’t going to inconvenience them to fit an unwanted meter.

      The supplier sent a few more letters but eventually gave up.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    less than two thirds complete

    more like '2/3 have been dragged in, screaming and kicking'. Like cattle to the slaughterhouse.

    p.s. I'm still in the other 1/3, though I have no illusion, our time will come. We've been dodging this 'privilage' (oh, lokie here, this here clever widge will save you loads of money and see, comes with them blinking lights, isn't it cute?!), but since covid, the meter harassment (by British Gas) has increased across the board. Typical tricks, first they asked via email or letters WHETER we want this wonderful improvement (save money!!!). Then they kept on, but the 'save money' bit died quietly, when it became known that no matter how hard they spin it (alongside the gov), there's no money to be saved by us, though the energy company would happily accept saving them money). Anyway - ignored. They kept on, asking WHEN we want this meter, ignored. Then they BOOKED the appointments 'asking' to 'confirm', ignored. Then they booked again, this time asking to CANCEL, we also ignored that one. Then they tried the 'we book you cancel' again, and this pissed off my wife big time, because the only way to cancel was to CALL THEM (and then fall into the black hole of their telephone system). In the end, she took my advice, never cancelled, I told her I'll just ignore British Gas knocking (this would buy us a couple of months at least). Unfortunately, I was doing somebody else when 'they' rang the bell one day and I opened. When I saw it was about the meter, instead of politely telling them we're not interested, I - very politely, but trying hard not to use the language, entered into a prolonged, very polite, but frothing rant about British Gas, meters, etc, etc. The poor engineer was from my part of the world, more or less, so instead of nodding politely, and waiting for me to end we had a normal conversation like two people rather than a like a human and a corpo-bot. But in the end he shared that, sorry old man, you will not be able to hold out much longer, because they'll go after you (and other refuseniks), there are many ways to do that, and you won't win against a corp, particularly when the consecutive governments firmly support this rollout. I told him that I know, but the last of the Mohicans, etc.

    I would sincerely and deeply hope that I live long enough to see and be able to buy a 'propa' solar panel system and a propa battery (ok, perhaps even from e. musk), and I'd be able to give British Gas a big middle finger at that point. But, this is Big Dreams of Little People. Because, in reality, even if it become technically, perfectly possible to be self-reliant and cut off those parasites, I'm absolutely CERTAIN they will appear some legislation to make it MANDATORY to use at least X% of big boys' energy supply. Some, more or less plausible excuse will be weaseled into the legislation, something about green responsibility and long-term investment into sustainability funding, etc, etc. After all, a non-significant part of what I pay for gas and electricity goes to the coffers (and taxman, I bet) and we can't have a total collapse of the well-established revenue stream and thus, society, just because some plebs want to become 'independent' and pay less. Paying less, these are dirty thoughts, what next, legal tax avoidence schemes for the little people?

    ...

    in the meantime, no pasaram! aka none shall pass aka I move for no man!

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: less than two thirds complete

      I fear that some of what you've said is coming true in the US. The energy companies in the very sunny states (Calif and Florida) are getting pissy that people are generating too much electricity for themselves and managing, with battery storage, to be virtually 'off grid' most of the time. I can't remember which power company proposed it (I think it was in FL) but you would have to pay THEM a fee to have rooftop solar. The push for small scale renewables has gone so far that it is eating into profits. They want grid scale so they can sell you the 'very cheap' (in quotes as grid scale renewables never seem to be cheap) elec at nice profitable costs.

      My inlaws live in Nevada and the water company constantly says 'save water! save water!' and is now moaning about losing money as everyone saves water....

      You can't win!

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: less than two thirds complete

        "The energy companies in the very sunny states (Calif and Florida) are getting pissy that people are generating too much electricity for themselves and managing, with battery storage, to be virtually 'off grid' most of the time.'

        California passed a law that all new residential homes have solar fitted. They are very token systems on the order of 1kW and could even be mounted on the north face of the roof if the builder finds panels unattractive. CA has also permitted a reduction in the feed-in tariffs which I anticipated. It made no sense for the power companies to pay full retail price for private rooftop generation.

        Battery storage can be a negative for many. It's expensive and financing tacked on top makes the ROI dicey before the batteries give out.

        The positive is that apartments/block of flats often don't have enough roof to offset the usage within and property owners may not see any value adding solar for more than common areas and amenities. The residents won't be getting any sort of value from the panels and the power companies will be getting full revenue from those residents. Most apartments in CA have independent meters for electricity.

        The upside for power companies is they can put off upgrades with long payback periods and pay their shareholders higher dividends in the meantime. (the biggest shareholders are often the execs).

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: less than two thirds complete

          The prices of solar systems in the USA do seem to be insane compared to the UK. (not sure what Europe is like)

          A friend just had a just under 3kW (limited roof space) system with 3.5kWh of battery installed for a little over £9k. I installed a 2.25kW straight solar system for just over £2.5k and in 2 years we're 40% paid back. I will be adding battery storage and probably more panels at some point.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: less than two thirds complete

            "A friend just had a just under 3kW (limited roof space) system with 3.5kWh of battery installed for a little over £9k."

            Did they have an independent technician run an audit to see if that's what they really needed or did they just call some installers for bids? I expect that a big portion of the cost was the battery (with installation, permits, etc). The question is whether the expense for what was installed will ever pay off. The installation company isn't going to own up if the answer is 'no'. They may have been better off fitting new double/triple glazing instead.

  20. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Mushroom

    No smart meter here

    and never will be (if I can help it)

    Why not? dont I want to moniter my energy usage minute by minute? nope... not interested...

    Well we'll fit your meters anyway in the cupboard under the stairs where I moved all the meters/utilities after I moved in (neat and tidy see) and does'nt get a signal(although it was 25 years ago so hardly my fault)

    But mostly because it allows the power companies to do a remote disconnect if you have not paid your bills. which given how much crapita is involved in the process, is only a matter of time until the system borks out and disconnects everyone.

    And then we find out they can do a remote change to pre-pay and not give you any credit , thus its your fault when you get disconnected, oh and they'll never disconnect you between 9pm and 7am which is utter bullshit as friends on mine got cut off at 10.30pm then had to find a garage that did topups.(meter went wrong if you're wondering)

    So no to your 'smart' meters as its now pretty much proven now that the only people to benefit from them are the power companies that insist you install one

    PS interesting news story on BBC today about if we have a cold winter we'll be 4 Gwatt short of power generation...... gee I wonder where that smart meter money could have been better spent.......

  21. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Lord Duncan of Springbank

    "when we move to the Star Trek phase," it will allow the "technology to be our friend."

    Well that clears a lot of things up as far as UK Gov is concerned. They're waiting for Captain Kirk (Pickard ?) to beam down and solve all their problems.

    Now I understand NHS better.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No mention about something not so "smart".........

    All these "smart" meters communicate with energy central using 2G mobile.........

    Link: https://www.theregister.com/2011/08/31/british_gas_meters/

    Link: https://www.theregister.com/2013/08/15/telefonica_and_arqiva_mop_up_government_smart_cash/

    .....but then there's this:

    Link: https://www.theregister.com/2015/03/02/mwc_preview_network_vendors_need_something_far_more_real_than_5g_2/

    So......"smart" means 2G......but most of the networks are going 4G or 5G.

    In fact, in some places (like Australia) the 2G network is no more.........no 2G at all!!

    Which part of "smart" is it that I don't understand??

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart Money for the Utility Companies

    The only thing smart meters are good for is increasing the profits of the utility companies. It would save far more energy if goverments put some effort into forcing manufacturers to have proper on/off switches on everything.

    What is the point of a meter telling what you should already know - ie you are wating power if something is left switched on - this included the power wasted by the smart meters as well.

    I don't want some "smart" zombie telling this amount of power is trivial, because so is the amount of saving. They always neglect all the power and material consuming overheads for this junk - to say nothing of the unrelaibility and costs of replacement of meters and infrastructure every 2 or 3 years.

    This junk is the equivalent of mobile phone technology which only last one year for a huge number of people - or maybe 3 years if the manufacturer can be bothered with security updates.

    What security?

    Monitoring and instant disconnection is the real "smartness" and demand pricing so loved by supermarkets mow.

    As we all know this is not money saving for consumers - just for operators.

    Increase prices so you can give fake discounts for loyalty cards or in this case offpeak usage.

    How may years did it take for them to accept that "smart" motorways were a bad thing or even time dependent charging for phone and internet (oh no - don't bring that back)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart?

    It doesn't matter if a meter, dumb or 'smart', allows you to slightly modify your usage... not when the profiteering energy companies double their 'standing charges' at a stroke. You'd be paying more even if you used no electricity at all.

    And why do standing charges go up, when the infrastructure supplying your energy hasn't changed, and nor have maintenance costs? Because money, that's why.

  25. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    No Thanks

    I'm on Economy7. I know exactly when the cheaper rate is active (and if I wasn't sure, there's an indicator on the meter). I fit all the power hungry usage into that time slot.

  26. localzuk Silver badge

    Seems like typical govt

    A bad project fitting badly designed meters, implemented badly by companies.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Currently looking at moving home and have been seriously considering a house that is totally off grid (power from generators / water from spring / heat from cutting down and burning your own trees).

    For £31k they will connect the property to the national grid (connecting would require a few poles and a couple of wayleaves), or for around £20k I can buy the parts to put together a 15kw solar array with suitable inverters and 15kwh of battery storage.

    based on our average usage of 13kwh per day we reckon that the solar would supply everything for 8-9 months per year, for the remaining 3-4 months we may need to run a generator for around 3 hours every few days to top up the batteries based on the shortfall from solar.

    At the moment the only thing stopping us from grabbing the property is questions about the reliability of Starlink (as that would be the only usable internet connection option)

  28. Gavin Chester

    20 year meter change rules..

    My spinning disc meter is being swapped for a smart meter in a week or so. I say smart, but I’ve asked all the smart functionality is disabled, although if that gets put on the installers notes is 50:50

    What many people don’t realise is it meters have a certification life, mines 20 years old so I have to have it replaced by law which is really annoying.

    My main objection isn’t to the data grab, it’s just I have little confidence that the software been fully tested, and like most IoT hardware, once the maker moves to the next model of meter, any form of vulnerability testing, patching or basic security management they may have been doing will just go out the window.

    That’s a big hole in my eyes when you have a connected device that’s supposed to stay in place for 20 years…

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: 20 year meter change rules..

      "That’s a big hole in my eyes when you have a connected device that’s supposed to stay in place for 20 years…"

      A little tappy tap tap with Maxwells percussive maintenance tool could mean a replacement. Just enough damage to require a replacement rather than on-the-spot repair.

  29. Mockduncan

    With no smart meter you can make money ... or lose it

    I tried to arrange a smart meter through my provider Eon Next. They sent me a bunch of stupid questions, the most stupid of which was "Do I have 3-phase?" Now I happened to study electrical engineering many years ago so I know what this means, but what percentage of their other customers know? I told them to shove it as it was too hard.

    I am old enough to remember when a nice man would come and read my meters once a quarter then my provider would send me a bill. Then one day, with no warning, I started getting monthly estimated bills from Eon Next. No consultation. No contract. Eon just shifted me to Eon Next and monthly billing. They have the worst customer service since NTL and I got no-where. They kept asking me to read my meter. I kept telling them it is their meter so they can read it. They argued. I said "Can I take it with me when I move? Can I turn MY gas meter around so it runs backwards? "

    Now here is how you lose money: Eighteen months of estimates later and apathy on my part to check the readings and it turned out I was quite significantly behind. They charged for all the uncharged units at today's price and I lost a fortune. I gave up arguing they should charge at the average unit cost over the 18 months.

    Now here is how you can make money and note I absolutely have not done this: You could, over last winter, provide a reading that is lower than actual and then, now, when the prices are reducing, provide a real reading. This might raise suspicions of course and I haven't put it to the test. What I do know though is that they have over estimated my electric to the tune of £500 in the last 5 months. Coincidence or conspiracy. Luckily, realising that the units costs are about to reduce, I read my meters. If not, I would be using units paid on at a higher rate when the unit costs are about to reduce.

    I've bitten the bullet and have a smart meter install scheduled but if this is an imperative, why are we not offered a carrot of some kind?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: With no smart meter you can make money ... or lose it

      "I tried to arrange a smart meter through my provider Eon Next. They sent me a bunch of stupid questions, the most stupid of which was "Do I have 3-phase?" Now I happened to study electrical engineering many years ago so I know what this means, but what percentage of their other customers know? I told them to shove it as it was too hard."

      I'll hook you up with my mom. She's a retired nurse and an expert in playing the daft old woman to get people to do things for her. She's clever enough to walk away from scams, but nobody will continue to insist she fills out some survey form. It's hilarious to watch her work.

    2. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: With no smart meter you can make money ... or lose it

      All you managed to do by not providing meter readings is cause yourself problems. Its their meter, yes, but you're the one using the energy and you're the one who pays the bills. The terms and conditions for your account will make it clear about how they charged you due to not providing any readings.

      Then, your idea of providing a low, false, reading? The term for that is "a crime"...

      And its very odd you were asked any questions by your provider - as all that info is on the national database already. My smart meter installation was "we want to swap your meter, when can we do it?". That's it.

    3. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: With no smart meter you can make money ... or lose it

      "I tried to arrange a smart meter through my provider Eon Next. They sent me a bunch of stupid questions, the most stupid of which was "Do I have 3-phase?""

      I would hope that suppliers would have access to data showing whether each supply is single or 3-phase, It's not difficult to identify a 3-phase visually, but agreed most people won't know what they are looking at.

      If it's domestic premises it will almost certainly be single-phase anyway.

  30. Spamfast
    WTF?

    Ker-ching.

    We're now into gen2 'smart' meters (aka SMETS2) yet they stil only save money for the power companies by allowing them to fire all the meter readers. So we've ripped out and binned millions of perfectly function gas & electricity meters, some of them twice, with no appreciable benefit to customers other than a dinky little display box.

    We'll be doing it again when an over the wire protocol for smart appliances is agreed so that the meters can ask fridges, aircon, etc. to modulate their energy use to avoid having to switch in less-green baseload supplies.

    And all the time the government & industry have been lying when they said that the consumer won't be paying for all this. Of course we're paying for it in increased standing charges, more residual power usage by the meter itself and the wireless infrastructure.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Meter readers

      They haven't fired them all. Even smart meters have to be inspected every few years just to make sure that you have not bypassed the dumb-ass meter. What they did do was outsource it to Morrison Data Services.

  31. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Saving Money?

    Who are they kidding? To get the home monitor POS thing to work, it has to be less than 3ft from the not smart meter. Then the sodding thing fell flat on its face when I had my gas supply removed.

    I only that the (not) smart thing installed so that I could switch to an EV tariff.

    SMART anything is in my mind just marketing speak for a shit device that won't last 10 years whereas the old mechanical one lasted decades. Progress? Yeah, four steps backwards.

  32. nijam Silver badge

    As an aside, a fairly obvious way (and who knows, maybe more effective) to cut energy consumption would be to abolish the standing charges and make the who bill dependent on energy use. Tarriffs would go up, but low users woudl benefit, and high users ... not.

  33. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Smart meters are still optional!

    I do not think smart meter roll out can ever be completed whist at the same time it is optional.

    Plus some people have prepay meters.

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: Smart meters are still optional!

      Prepay meters are now smart meters.

  34. Adelio

    I have never figures out how smart meters help customers (Retail) save a single penny?

    Any ideas folks?

  35. Tron Silver badge

    Stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

    I don't want one of these &^%*ing things. I don't want the hassle and won't save a penny as I already keep my usage down. I am pig sick of e-on bugging me about them.

    The money they spent on this should have been spent on solar farms, wind turbines, hydro (and, for that matter, more reservoirs). Why do we have the least capable people in the UK making all the big decisions?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once we reach this pivotal milestone, We get to activate Star Trek Mode "!" ..... WTF?

    Who turned Off the lights....

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Coat

      Who turned out the lights sounds more Dr Who :)

  37. Paul 87

    I wonder if they've worked out that a lot of people don't *want* smart meters?

    Why do we need a meter that can be disabled via a computer, that's part of a hackable network using relatively insecure, outdated protocols (GSM / SMS)

    Has no one worked out yet that Russia has spent *decades* building up their cyberwarfare capabilities for this kind of reason??

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      As a sparky, I have no issue with THAT part of smart meters. Any meter without a coin slot, that disconnects my power when the main fuse is still intact and receiving 240 rich chunky volts, is, by definition, faulty. And will be replaced with one of the calibrated check meters I have several of (to prevent charges of 'abstraction') and mailed back to the supplier at their expense.

    2. 43300 Silver badge

      "I wonder if they've worked out that a lot of people don't *want* smart meters?"

      They know it, but over time they will be forced on everyone anyway, one way or another.

      I'd never had one until recently. Periodically the supplier would contact me (often starting with "Good News!") telling me that they had scheduled a smart meter to be installed and I would be contacted to arrange a date - wording deliberately ambiguous so as not to make it clear that there was a right of refiusal. I always phoned them and told them that I did not want one, so please stop asking, That would work for a while, then they'd have another go. The main selling point they tried was that I wouldn't have to take readings, Well, to be honest the process of noting the reading once a month when they emailed me, then entering it on their website, really wasn't onerous!

      Unfortunately I then moved into a different flat, which already has a smart meter so nothing I can do about that - they'll get a lot of people this way.

  38. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Another point is, smart meters are simply NOT as reliable

    Or in my not so huble, as safe... as an old electromechanical meter. I am a sparky and we've been called out to more than one installation where the smart meter, or even non smart, but new electronic meter, has gone utterly batshite insane and is either dead, displaying eldrich symbols (possibly with ichor being exuded) or is actively arcing and emitting smoke* and **

    *why customers call an electrician when this happens, i dunno... we tell em we will attend but to hang up and dial 999 and then 105 (for their DNO), forthwith.

    ** on the several occasions this has happened, it's usually been due to the improperly trained meter fitter forgetting his/her screwdriver. Not to sound too much like Big Clive, but a 2 day course does not an electrician make. And for gas safety purposes, most smart meter fitters are gas engineers who've been trained on electricity meters very quickly.

  39. Alan Hope

    I remember one guy saying he tracked the influence of their new Smart Meter on the familiy's use of electrical appliiances / lights etc with his kids. He thought it would be a great life lesson for them to learn to be careful and frugal in their use of resources. After the first month, with house lights more off than on and appliance use minimised the family saved £1.49.

    They all ended up wiser.

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