Once again, there’s a new wind blowing through the energy landscape. Following a proposal by Flemish Energy Minister Bart Tommelein, smart meters will be made compulsory for every Flemish home in 2019. Citizens cannot apply for a smart meter yet, but the government is already rolling them out here and there as part of a pilot project.
Contrary to what the term suggests, however, smart meters actually aren’t that ‘smart’. For one, most people still have to walk up to their meter to check how much energy they’ve been using. And, unfortunately, smart meters don’t help consumers to save energy either. But that’s where fifthplay comes in!
What’s a smart meter?
Smart meters are a digital replacement for the current electromechanical meters with rotary counters. Consumers with a smart meter no longer have to stay home from work once a year to wait for ‘the meter man (or woman)’, as the digital meter automatically communicates its readings to the operator. Smart meters significantly reduce the costs that come with keeping homes connected to the network, because everything can be done remotely. But that’s where the benefits end – for the consumer at least.
Smart meters, smart prices - for operators
Flemish energy suppliers are pretty pleased at the prospect of mandatory smart meters. Surprising? Not in the least. A study conducted by Brattle Group a few years ago concluded that mandatory smart meters would yield European energy players a whopping 53 billion euros. Not only can defaulters be cut off more quickly, smart meters also make for smarter energy prices. Will your operator be charging daily or even hourly electricity rates in the future? It’s very likely.
The smart meter’s main purpose, according to the Flemish government, is to encourage consumers to save energy. However, a pilot project supervised by Eandis in Mechelen several years ago indicated that smart meters have virtually no effect on the average household’s energy consumption. To be more precise, the homes in question reduced their electricity use by less than 3 percent. Their gas consumption remained unchanged. Henk Heylen, Director of Sales Consulting at fifthplay, explains why:
“These smart meters are nothing more than what you’d call connected meters. They’re a great asset to energy suppliers, but they don’t make consumers more aware of their energy consumption at all. On the contrary. Today, consumers have to check their meters once a year to inform their energy suppliers, but that will soon no longer be the case. These so-called smart meters also don’t give consumers any insight into their historical energy usage whatsoever, let alone how much individual appliances consume."
Saving energy with your smart meter
fifthplay helps consumers save energy by linking their smart meters to an app that keeps track of their energy consumption. In addition, fifthplay’s smart plugs enable consumers to connect individual appliances to their smart meters and reduce standby consumption. Henk elaborates:
“Thanks to the fifthplay app, you can consult your meter’s reading at any time via your smartphone or tablet, no matter where you are. The app also keeps track of your energy history, creating insightful graphs, both in kWh and euros, so you can see if you’re making progress in the long run. And, because you can also check how much energy each appliance consumes, you gain more insight into your household’s standby consumption as well. Our smart plugs enable you to remotely turn on and off appliances, too, so you can easily spot the biggest energy wasters in your home and take action immediately.”
Become a fifthplay partner
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