Powering data: why smart meters could lead to big savings for SMEs
Recent spikes in energy prices mean businesses are paying close attention to their gas and electricity bills. Tom Ching, Head of Smart Data Operations at SSE Energy Solutions, explains how companies can save money whilst helping the planet by properly understanding their energy data.
Digitalisation has transformed so many aspects of our lives – from retail and media through to health and fitness. Now it’s revolutionising the way we use gas and electricity by bringing together the worlds of data and energy. At the heart of this digital revolution is the humble smart meter.
Recent spikes in the wholesale cost of energy have shone a spotlight on gas and electricity prices. As businesses of all types and sizes begin to recover from the effects of the pandemic, being able to monitor your energy usage data via a smart meter is a simple way to keep your energy consumption in check, and, importantly, reduce your business’s running costs.
How small businesses can get smart meters
Your energy supplier will install your gas or electricity smart meter at no additional cost as part of the government’s national rollout programme. Installation is quick and easy too, usually taking less than one hour. Smart Energy GB, the UK government-backed smart meter campaign, has created a step-by-step guide to help small businesses through the process, including details of how to contact your energy supplier if you’ve not already been offered a smart meter.
The latest deadline for suppliers to install smart meters for small businesses and households will pass in December, with a fresh target set for 2025, putting binding goals in place for suppliers. Installing smart meters is part of the UK government’s target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the Scottish government’s 2045 aim.
Why businesses should get smart meters installed
Smart meters send your gas and electricity readings straight to your energy supplier, so you no longer have to take readings yourself. This means you’ll never receive another estimated bill. Having that accurate data means small businesses can budget more accurately, which in turn can free up cash to invest in other things.
Knowing how much money you’re spending on your gas and electricity – and seeing it in real time on a smart meter’s linked digital display – is a great prompt to make your business more energy efficient. Data from Smart Energy GB shows that companies with smart meters could save nearly £400 a year on average by using their gas and electricity more wisely. Conveniently, its website also produces guides for businesses on money saving tips and how technology is helping them to bounce back from the coronavirus lockdowns.
Having accurate data on your energy use makes it easier to find the right tariff from your energy supplier. It also allows you to work out the cost savings if you install energy efficiency measures, like more insulation in your premises or equipment that uses less power, with the Energy Saving Trust offering further advice and tips to businesses.
How smart meters can save businesses money
Smart meters give incredibly granular data about your energy use, from readings every 15 minutes through to the industry standard of every half hour and then on to mornings, afternoons, evenings, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Having that sort of data at your fingertips allows you to start spotting usage patterns.
The real power comes when you link your smart meters to the free energy management software that’s available from most energy suppliers, such as SSE Clarity. These platforms allow you to analyse the data coming from your smart meter and really start to drill-down into any trends.
They also give you the power to monitor your energy usage when you’re away from your site by running on tablets and mobiles. In the same way that you deal with your emails on the go, you can also handle your energy use too.
Take the next steps after installing smart meters
Linking your smart meters to an energy management platform opens the door to fitting consumer access devices (CADs) to your equipment. These sensors not only give you readouts on how much power each device is using, but also include controls, so you can turn equipment off and on when you’re not on-site – think Alexa, but with money-saving potential.
The combination of smart meters, CADs, and energy management software give you the power to cut your energy costs, which in turn frees up money to invest in other parts of your business. As businesses continue to recover from the coronavirus lockdowns, every penny counts.
After you’ve installed smart meters and taken control of your energy, make sure you tell your customers about the steps you’re taking. For consumer-facing businesses, more and more of your customers care about sustainability and are supporting companies that match those goals. Equally, demonstrating that you’re ready to cut your carbon footprint to help create a truly green supply chain will be welcome news to clients of business-to-business operators.
- Gas and electricity smart meters are no additional cost for small businesses and can be installed by your energy suppliers – take a look at Smart Energy GB’s step-by-step guide for more information: https://www.smartenergygb.org/about-smart-meters/small-businesses
- Getting a smart meter installed means no more estimated bills, which in turn means more accurate budgets, freeing up money for investment in other areas of your business
- Linking smart meters to energy management software and consumer access devices means you can control your equipment remotely, creating even more opportunities to save money
- For more advice on managing money in your business, visit the UMi platform: https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/