back to article Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report

Smart meters will cost each British household £420 and save people just “a tenner a year”, according to reports. Cost-benefit estimates for the British smart meter programme vary hugely, with figures ranging from modest savings of around £26 a year (as we reported last year) to the Mail on Sunday’s latest guess coming from …

  1. H.A.L

    Really, that Much?

    I'm surprised it saves even that much. I spent the first week looking at the live readings and since then the display has sat in the cupboard.

    1. Shady

      Re: easy pickings

      I suspect this post could be thumbed up by approximately 28 million households.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: easy pickings

        First rule of fishing for upvotes is not to talk about fishing for upvotes.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: easy pickings

          And the second rule of fishing for upvotes is to use a bigger internet.

          Mine's the reticulated one, thanks.

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: easy pickings

            But is it recussated?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Smart Meters are mainly good in making your whole house hackable

        5 Eyes Network secret sponsors.

        Smart Meters are the entry-gate and backdoor to eventually be able to remotely control everything in your house. But it won't necessarily be you, who's doing the controlling...

        It'll go along with a progressive expansion of the meaning of the word 'terrorist'...

        If you let your bananas spoil in the fridge, you'll show up on some list somewhere. :p

    2. Adelio

      Re: Really, that Much?

      Well i had a smart meter installed about 2-3 years agoe (EON) never looked at it and then switched to Sainsburys (British Gas) and the "smart" meter never worked again, they have to come and do a "manual" meter reading.

      Apparently they did not think through the issue of people switching suppliers!

      Never understood the reason for installing smart meters.

      How CAN it save the consumer ANY money?

      Now for the Supplier, not having to pay someone to come and read the meter might save them a few bob!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really, that Much?

        How CAN it save the consumer ANY money?

        It is not there to save you any money. The real reason is to allow them to switch off your supply when there isn't enough electricity being generated because of over reliance on unreliables like wind and solar.

        1. I just wish to be anonymous.

          Re: Really, that Much?

          Suppliers aren't allowed to simply 'switch you off'. SLA's / Duty of Care and all that

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: Really, that Much?

            Suppliers aren't allowed to simply 'switch you off'

            Except when they run out of generation capacity and need to lose some load. Or when they make a mistake.

            But that is only the "plan B" for when "plan A" doesn't work. Plan A is simple :

            Because successive governments have kicked the problem down the road, it's "quite likely" that we'll run into problems where supply doesn't meet demand - and renewables just won't fill the gap. The solution to this is rationing by price. When you get home on that cold dark (solar PV does work at night), when there's a couple of weeks of widespread high pressure across Northern Europe (windmills don't work when there's no wind) and want to cook your tea - you'll find the display flashing red to tell you that the price of lecky is up tenfold (or more).

            So most people who aren't rolling in excess cash will either eat something cold or wait till early hours of the morning to have tea !

            THAT is the primary function of these devices - (price) rationing.

            And it's the one feature that they never talk about in public.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Really, that Much?

              "Except when they run out of generation capacity and need to lose some load."

              this is the core of the problem: 'running out of generation capacity'. This is the 21st century. A shortage of generator capacity should NEVER happen, It seems CONTRIVED to me [in order to avoid doing things the RIGHT way, maybe, like has happened in Cali-Fornicate-You with Grey-out Davis, for example]

              So yeah I've heard this song before. It sucked then, and it sucks NOW.

              If they do the smart meters correctly, it would work like this: when capacity requirements are such that it costs more to generate electricity [because peaker plants come online], then the cost should simply vary based on demand and the actual cost of production. And they would LET YOU KNOW when the price goes up, maybe an indicator you could remote-install on certain outlets and switches, or something.

              If instead they're being used to DROP YOUR POWER, like you aren't smart enough to turn a few appliances off and wait until after-peak, then it's ANTI-FREEDOM.

              But warning you when the price goes up might be a necessary part to making this work... and I don't see ANYONE out there trying to mitigate the STICKER SHOCK that could result when your electric bill arrives, if the smart meters are simply used for 'Time Of Use' billing.

              Last week we had a nice heat wave in Cali-fornicate-you, probably the last one of the year. The usual 'flex alert' warnings were out there. I didn't run certain appliances and kept my A/C and fans blasting, with the internal house temperature hovering in the 80F range [above their 78 degree imposed "limit"] because I don't have a really powerful A/C but it's good enough to keep things 'liveable'. And I expect a higher power bill. But I want to use the power, so I should be able to, right? But yeah, you can just ask people to "not do certain things" and as a general rule, they won't.

              But if people would simply build more "peaker" generators, close to where the peak demand will occur, this wouldn't be a problem any more. Not at all. Those are usually diesel engine type generators, running on natural gas. Start 'em up at a moment's notice, run for a few hours, and shut 'em down. A bit expensive but it keeps the lights on. Extra cost is passed to the customer via variable rates. Nobody has to 'cut back', everybody's lights and air conditioners stay on. THAT is how modern society SHOULD be, not 3rd world "oh crap oh crap oh crap everybody shut things off, the 19th century power grid can't handle it." And then doing 'rolling blackouts' without warning...

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Wayland Bronze badge

                Re: Really, that Much?

                So you're saying that in the past we could use what ever electric we needed and the price was static. That the great modern improvement to this is that the price changes all over the place and is a lot more expensive when we really want it.

                No in a modern world energy should not be price rationed. Modern people should be able to afford the nessesaties of modern life.

                The fact you are even thinking in these rationing type terms means the brainwashing has worked.

            2. I just wish to be anonymous.

              Re: Really, that Much?

              I think you're confused between Energy Generators and Suppliers. One is a blackout, and tuther is remote switch off - which isn't allowed.

              1. Jtom

                Re: Really, that Much?

                Remote switch off IS allowed most everywhere I"ve seen smart meters. Don't pay your bill, they remotely switch off your power.

                It's just symantics and regulations, something like this:

                Reg #444: pricing may be based on real-time aggregate usage sufficient to match demand with supply levels to avoid black-outs.

                Reg #555, when a subscriber's useage exceeds £x, suppliers can require REAL-TIME BILLING, i.e., immediate withdrawal if bank fund as the power is used.

                Reg #666, should the subscriber not have the funds to pay for his real-time power consunption, the supplier may remotely terminate the delivery of power.

                Reg #999, consumer protection act: the consumer shall have the power to temporarily suspend the delivery of power if the cost exceeds a threshold set in advance by that consumer.(we listen to and protect the consumer from evil powercos).

                Symantics: "you have complete control over how much power you use and how much you pay," means, "we have contrived a way to ration your power and cut it off completely when we wish."

          2. Wayland Bronze badge

            Re: Really, that Much?

            What's to stop them having a 'computer glitch' causing you to be cut off?

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: Really, that Much?

              What's to stop them having a 'computer glitch' causing you to be cut off?

              Who is "them"? What sort of "glitch" do you imagine could have that effect?

              Because a "glitch" that could do that, could just as easily send airliners crashing into your hometown or cause every traffic light in the city to turn green at once. Some things are just - not within the scope of what "a glitch" could plausibly do.

              No in a modern world energy should not be price rationed. Modern people should be able to afford the nessesaties of modern life.

              Look, "the necessities of modern life" aren't free. Somebody has to generate, transmit, distribute and balance all that power, and that takes resources, and resources cost money. The purpose of electricity billing is to make sure that everyone pays as fair a share as possible of that cost.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Really, that Much?

          How CAN it save the consumer ANY money?

          Sod the consumer. The electronic (I don't see any smarts) meter is so the billing company can save money by reading meters remotely. The thing that makes me think that it was cooked up by people with a business degree is that the meter readers are usually paid minimum wages. What's the point in spending lorry loads of money to eliminate some of the least paid staff? Knock out a couple of executives and you're looking at real money.

          When's the whole Brexit thing going to be done?

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Really, that Much?

            Smart meters can save customers a fortune. But, and this is the kicker, not in the UK.

            Here in New Zealand, we're at about 75% smart meter coverage already. But these aren't what you know as smart meters. These ones were rolled out sensibly.

            What that means is that you don't get any "in-home display" of what power you're using, or anything similar. It's not a consumer toy. It's a tool for retailers. I work for one of said retailers, so I have some inside knowledge on this topic.

            The result is - apart from cheaper meter reads - also more accurate meter reads. No more estimation, particularly when customers move in/out of their homes or switch retailers. And switching retailers has become much easier. That's because the meters don't belong to the retailers, they belong to separate metering companies that provide data to retailers.

            And that has led to a veritable price war among retailers. There are at least half a dozen companies in the market now that will *only* accept customers with smart meters, because it eliminates a huge part of operational risk. And consumer prices have dropped about 20% over the past 3, 4 years.

            The British rollout is just unbelievably silly. It's clearly cooked up by the (big, incumbent) retailers themselves, with an eye to keeping upstarts out of the market, and also helping themselves to huge wads of taxpayer money. But it doesn't have to be that way. Take a lesson from the Colonies.

            1. Mark 65

              Re: Really, that Much?

              The result is - apart from cheaper meter reads - also more accurate meter reads.

              I think smart meters, of any kind, have been shown to have pretty questionable accuracy. The following article will be local to you and relevant

              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11816828

              In it at least one company admits to using Hall sensors in <= 1.5% of installations - inaccurate but usually favour the customer - whereas others mention nothing. Take from that what you will. Typically the cheapest meter they can lay their hands upon will be the one they use. That may mean that there are Rogowski Coil samples out there. Pray you don't have one.

              1. veti Silver badge

                @Mark 65 Re: Really, that Much?

                I read that article. I also, and this I suspect may make me the only person in this thread to have done this, read the paper it was reporting. The words "monumentally overblown" come to mind.

                First off: the error only affects three-phase meters. That's already a pretty small minority, and even smaller of residential meters. Of single-phase meters - the type my home, like nearly everyone else's, has, it says:

                Several single-phase static energy meters were measured in various setups. [...] The results can be summarized in one sentence: no deviation beyond the specification could be observed; no influence of interference due to interfering or distorted voltage, and no influence caused by interfering currents were observed.

                In other words: "the ordinary, domestic meters took everything we could throw at them and shrugged it off without even flinching".

                Second: to get the huge errors the "coverage" screams about, you need not only a three-phase Rogowski coil (or Hall-effect, but those meters generally under-recorded so why would you complain anyway?) meter, but also a very, very strange configuration of load. Specifically, you need your entire load to be connected in series to a dimmer switch, with the dimmer switch permanently set to 135 degrees. I can't quite begin to imagine why anyone would have load configured like that, or why they would expect ti to be cheap if they did.

        3. Jtom

          Re: Really, that Much?

          Bingo. The UK is headed down the rabbit hole of needing to ration, then deny, power. First the push for unreliable electrical generation - i.e., wind and solar. Those making energy policy all over the world are mucking things up. Do you really trust the intellect of those who decided to burn woodchips imported from the US to power generating plants in the UK that are sitting on top of huge coal deposits?

          Then there is the forced-conversion to electric vehicles, when there are NO plans to build the generating capacity, distribution lines, or recharging points neecessary IF average people are still to have vehicles.

          Finally, there is this deployment of smart meters, which do not benefit the consumer who are paying for them.

          Connecting the dots, I would say the intent is to push up electric prices so high, that only the elitist can afford to pay for the energy that the average bloke uses today. If you make power expensive enough (enforced by the smart meter), you can de facto ration power, so the average person consumes less. Then you don't need more power generation, more transmission lines, or charging stations. You can own a vehicle - you just can't afford to keep it charged. This strategy provides the same result as an outright ban on cars, but without the political fallout. There would be so much finger-pointing - it's the evil energy companies, it's your local electric company, the battery companies have failed us, we did it for the good of our children, the last PM put us in this postion, ...that no one would get the full wrath of the people. Meanwhile, elitist are driving on roads not congested by us mere mortals. Plenty of parking. No new road projects necessary.

          And people become much easier to control. What happens to your ability to survive in today's world if power is cut off? How many have the supplies required to stay warm in the winter? Obtain their own food and cook it? And what would happen to communications - good luck organizing a coordinated protest.

          We are being herded into a brave new world, and they have us believing we are doing what's best for our children. We may be actually selling them into slavery. Do not trust all the changes being forced on us. If the initial objective is not deliberately for ill intentions, these changes could easily be misused by others in the future.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Really, that Much?

            "And people become much easier to control. What happens to your ability to survive in today's world if power is cut off? How many have the supplies required to stay warm in the winter? Obtain their own food and cook it?"

            No wonder the gov't led media try to rubbish the 'prepers'. 40 years ago I trained with the CEGB, repaired mainframe computers to board level, and was taught the premise of power supply "at no time must a large number the public lose power for more than 24 hours" as they would revolt after missing 3 hot meals, with civil breakdown and looting likely to occur after 2-3 days, then Maggie sold off or destroyed the energy industries.

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Really, that Much?

        ...Apparently they did not think through the issue of people switching suppliers!

        Apparently they began the roll out of smart meters before the standards for that aspect were finalised, later smart meters should support this (although I don't know from when this would be)

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Really, that Much?

          "...Apparently they did not think through the issue of people switching suppliers!"

          Although they are for ever urging you to do that, and lamenting that not enough consumers do switch.

          Left hand, meet right hand.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really, that Much?

        "Now for the Supplier, not having to pay someone to come and read the meter might save them a few bob!"

        Sure, but it turns out that when you split that cost across the whole customer base, it doesn't save that much.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Really, that Much?

          It's cheaper to do as many UK suppliers do - give the customer a (teensy) discount for doing your own readings.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really, that Much?

          "Now for the Supplier, not having to pay someone to come and read the meter might save them a few bob!"

          I don't think it saves them anything. My parents got a smart meter but apparently the supplier still wants to inspect it once a year. That's more often than my dumb meter gets seen by a meter reader.

      4. Panda1

        Re: Really, that Much?

        It is yet another ego trip for the E.U.which is financed by the long suffering energy consumers who have nothing to gain but everything to lose.

        Energy suppliers are the only ones that will save money by not needing to employ any meter readers so they should be made to pay for the smart meters.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really, that Much?

      Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner'

      Not to mention the cost of your online security/ privacy by using them in the first place!

  2. Len Goddard

    Benefits

    With the UK slated to leave the EU by 2020, it is unlikely that any financial penalties will result if the target is missed.

    Best argument for brexit I've seen so far.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Benefits

      Nah, they'll just add on a few £B for good measure for all the directives we won't have to follow.

      My guestimate is that the bill will be around £60B minimum or £1000 for every one of us.

      Do we still want this? Will we get a chance to have our say on the final deal?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Benefits

        @ Steve Davies 3

        "My guestimate is that the bill will be around £60B minimum or £1000 for every one of us.

        Do we still want this? Will we get a chance to have our say on the final deal?"

        You do know the bill is the cost of already being in that we agreed to before the referendum? Whatever you believe the bill will come to if it is too expensive for you to consider leaving a good idea, you must absolutely support leave because remaining will cost far more.

        Personally I will be unhappy if the gov pays more than our currently agreed costs (I think it was assessed around £36bn) as we have no good reason to pay the EU for the privilege of leaving. Something we are doing regardless.

        Also no we wont have a choice on the final deal. If that was on offer then the EU just have to be total tossers and pretend we will be doomed to coerce the vote. Just like the remain campaign did for the referendum and remainers continue to do. Remember it was the pro EU gov who issued a direct and clear threat against the population if we didnt vote how they wanted. And some now seek to overthrow democracy. What scares me is the nutters demanding democracy is overthrown because we didnt vote their way!

        1. MGJ

          Re: Benefits

          I like the idea of a fixed result in a democratic decision making process; can we choose the 1945 UK General Election please. No Tories ever again, nationalisation and socialist principles at the heart of a workers government.

          Oh, was it just decisions you approve of that can never be overturned?

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Benefits

            @ MGJ

            "Oh, was it just decisions you approve of that can never be overturned?"

            That is such a cute argument and its such a recent one as the others consistently fall apart. Although to think about it this is the first vote on our membership of the EU and we have yet to implement the result. But you want to overturn the result of a democratic choice before it is implemented because you dont like the result. So you want a 'democratic' vote to undo the democratic vote that has yet to be applied? And if it doesnt return the result you want I guess we will have to do it again (as that is the implication of what your saying anyway, revote because you dont like the result).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Benefits

              "Although to think about it this is the first vote on our membership of the EU and we have yet to implement the result."

              I seem to remember there was some kind of vote in the 70s, which went 67%-32%, much more decisive than the 48%-52%.

              Of course, the UK had tried repeatedly (I wonder why?) to join the club throughout the decade before.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Benefits

                @AC

                "I seem to remember there was some kind of vote in the 70s, which went 67%-32%, much more decisive than the 48%-52%.

                Of course, the UK had tried repeatedly (I wonder why?) to join the club throughout the decade before."

                Your right. But since the EU did not exist then you are probably remembering a different vote. Maybe something to do with a common market?

                And yes the UK tried repeatedly to join the club. But as MGJ pointed out above, such decisions can be reversed. And this time with the people actually getting a choice!

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: Benefits

                  "Your right. But since the EU did not exist then you are probably remembering a different vote. Maybe something to do with a common market?"

                  This (apart from "Your") is something on which we can agree. There should have been referenda on Maastricht and Lisbon treaties with a requirement for super-majorities to ratify them. That really should be a requirement for any substantial constitutional change. That undoubtedly leaves a democratic deficit to which it's reasonable to object.

                  However taking an irrevocable* open-ended** decision without requiring a super-majority is simply piling one democratically bad procedure on top of the rest.

                  * in practical terms

                  ** the terms of implementing it were and still are not defined

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Benefits

              Although to think about it this is the first vote on our membership of the EU

              *cough* 1972 *cough*

              1. codejunky Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Benefits

                @ Loyal Commenter

                You may need to look up... the page a few comments. Both of your 'points' have been clearly addressed with my responses to MGJ and an AC.

                I would also suggest you get that cough looked at

              2. Scroticus Canis
                Facepalm

                Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                As has been pointed out that was a vote to join the European Economic Community, not the European Union, which wants to be a federal government for the member states. That choice was never before presented to the British people; it has been now and they voted that they don't want to be part of the EU.

                Please get your facts straight.

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                  No? We have a system of representative government. Since the 1972 join vote there were plenty of elections,and the elected governments made the incremental changes to our membership. But this Brexit vote was carried by a minority of the population who wanted to leave. n.b. Non Voters might not have been bothered, or whatever, but they did not choose to change.the staus quo.

                  1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

                    Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                    But this Brexit vote was carried by a minority of the population who wanted to leave.

                    But en even smaller minority voted to remain.

                    For those that didn't vote, then the only sensible interpretation is that those people wanted to go with the majority - if they didn't want that interpretation then they should have voted. Put another way, less than 35% (roughly 1/3) of the voting population voted to remain - vs the roughy 2/3 who either voted to leave or "voted" (by abstaining) to go with the majority.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                      For those that didn't vote, then the only sensible interpretation is that those people wanted to go with the majority ...

                      Methinks it is more likely that they were happy with the status quo, and didn't vote because they didn't believe that a majority would vote for a change.

                      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                        Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                        Exactly. Not many people ever think "I'll go with what the majority decide" except for choosing lunch,maybe(?). But lots of people think, "It's not going to happen" until it does.

                    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                      Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                      "For those that didn't vote, then the only sensible interpretation is that those people wanted to go with the majority"

                      An alternative only sensible interpretation is that they thought it didn't matter anyway because it was only an advisory referendum and would be followed by a binding one if it went in favour of leave.

                      A further only sensible interpretation is that they thought it was such a damn-fool idea it would have been voted down without their input (a damn-fool attitude in itself but one we see mentioned here from time to time along the lines of "I don't vote because my vote wouldn't count anyway").

                    3. strum Silver badge

                      Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                      >then the only sensible interpretation is that those people wanted to go with the majority

                      And how the fuck could they have known who that was? Sheesh!

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                        @ strum

                        "And how the fuck could they have known who that was? Sheesh!"

                        So glad you vanquished that stupid minority voted out so its invalid claim. Since having only a minority support to remain some of them do like to think the non-voters somehow represent their beliefs.

                2. IWVC

                  Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                  The actual facts were that in 1972 the UK voted to join a European Community whose rules and ambitions were set out in the 1958 (?) Treaty of Rome. That clearly has political union set out in its objectives. The great British Public however, were not told if the wider consequences of "joining the club". There was one BBC Panorama interview between Roy Jenkins and Tony Benn where "Woy" flatly denied Benn's correct assertion that the EU commission were commited to political union and the consequences to UK sovereignty.

                  1. strum Silver badge

                    Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                    > Benn's correct assertion that the EU commission were commited to political union and the consequences to UK sovereignty

                    So you admit that the British people knew they were voting for a political project?

                  2. IWVC

                    Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                    It's taken a while but I've found a copy of the panorama debate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zBFh6bpcMo It wasn't 1972 as I originally thought but 1975 when there was a referendum on whether to stay in. I'm not a fan of either politician but the arguments seemed very much the same as the Brexit debate. And even then the political union and sovereignty arguments were brushed under the carpet. Jenkins states about 10 minutes in that the EU Commission were "servants of the council of ministers" This is clearly untrue (although Jenkins probably wanted to believe it) and in the 1990s when I was involved in the agreement of a Directive I was told by staff of our Permanent Representative to the EU that the Council could only REQUEST the Commission to do something (i.e. in that case to bring forward further proposals to resolve deficiencies in the agreement on the table) it had no power to INSTRUCT the Commission to do anything. That in my understanding means that the Commission has the upper hand and is definitely NOT a servant. maybe Jenkins was naive - but he did rise to be head of the Commission from 1977 to 81..... and as such had more power than any of the then 9 member state's Parliaments. Wondered if he remembered the Panorama debate then?

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                  The goal of the "European Project" was quite clear in 1972.

                  It was, and remains (sic), our best hope for avoiding a repeat of the first half of the 20th Century. But instead, BoJo painted a non-existent facsimile of what goes on in Brussels and Strasbourg whilst he was a journo, and then persuaded everyone who wanted to believe it, that this was the reality.

                  I'd much prefer a proper federation of states and regions, with power delegated to the lowest level possible in that hierarchy (which IS what the EU is about), than the increasing centralisation that every Government in the UK brings about, regardless of their rhetoric about decentralisation.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                    It was, and remains (sic), our best hope for avoiding a repeat of the first half of the 20th Century.

                    Why should I have to be part of some undemocratic mega-bureaucracy, progressively surrendering all sovereign powers of my country, purely in the hope that the bloody Germans won't invade Poland or France again?

                    Whilst I agree that's what underlies the design thinking of the EU from the inception of the "Europe project", its the shittest, most irrelevant argument for the UK's continued membership that you could possibly raise. I don't believe for one moment that the Germans will be leaping into their tanks the moment that the EU were cancelled; And if they did, I'd suggest it would be time for the other European countries to man up and defend themselves, not our job to get embroiled in a war to bail them out AGAIN.

                    1. strum Silver badge

                      Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                      >Why should I have to be part of some undemocratic mega-bureaucracy, progressively surrendering all sovereign powers of my country, purely in the hope that the bloody Germans won't invade Poland or France again?

                      Because Britain tends to get dragged into European wars.

                      (And, please, less of this 'undemocratic' garbage. The EU is a damn sight more democratic than Westminster.)

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                    It was, and remains (sic), our best hope for avoiding a repeat of the first half of the 20th Century.

                    The economic stability of the EEC gave us that hope, and many years of peaceful coexistence with our neighbours. The 25 years of the political arrogance of the EU has seen an unprecedented rise in extremist left- and right-wing nationalism and anti-foreigner feeling across Europe. Our best hope for another half-century of peace is in economic cooperation without political empire-building.

                4. strum Silver badge

                  Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

                  >That choice was never before presented to the British people

                  Bullshit. All of the same arguments were put forward by the 'No' campaign in 1975 (and I voted 'No').

                  Please get your facts straight.

              3. Wayland Bronze badge

                Re: Benefits

                First time for me, I was too young.

            3. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Benefits

              Isn't that what all the years of Brexit agitation have been doing? Didn't Farage say that this was what they would do if they lost.

              So when Leave win by a tiny majority of those who voted, on the back of a lacklustre Remain campaign fought by politicians frightened of Ukip oiled by frankly lies and misinformation, that can't be challenged? Even when the reality is already starting to bite.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Benefits

                @ Terry 6

                "on the back of a lacklustre Remain campaign"

                Really? Granted the remain campaign was rubbish but thats because there isnt a great deal of justification to remain. However the referendum was rigged, public money spent on propaganda for remain, lies/misrepresentation and hyperbole, foreign leaders invited to threaten us and our own chancellor directly threatening the population to vote remain.

                The remain campaign stitched things up so badly that their complaints directly after the result (no brexit plan, etc) were the direct result of the remain supporting government.

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: Benefits

                  You would say that, wouldn't you.

              2. strum Silver badge

                Re: Benefits

                >Didn't Farage say that this was what they would do if they lost.

                No, it's what Farage said HE would do if he lost.

            4. Phil Lord

              Re: Benefits

              Yes, that covers it. Democracies can change their minds about things, and a later vote trumps an earlier one. Democracy is not about "the people have spoken" (i.e. they HAVE spoken, now they can shut up).

              Obviously, the chances of us staying in the EU have been considerably lessened as a result of the referendum, but it isn't a done deal, and there is nothing wrong with trying to find a way to make it not happen. And, if it does happen, there is nothing wrong with trying to find a way to reverse it. Democracy is not a state but a process; its always going on.

              1. Andy france

                Re: Benefits

                @Phil Lord ..... "Democracy is not a state but a process; its always going on"

                You are quite correct. Just as a party called UKIP was created to get the UK independant from the European Union, you are at liberty to join or form a political party dedicated to being ruled by the EU.

                Choose your party name carefully, and be there for the long haul as it might take some time what with general elections 5 years apart. On the plus side if you don't scare the government badly enough to get them to agree to a referendum as an olive branch to stop their party members defecting you might be able to win a parliamentary majority with only 35% of the electorate voting for you. Even with only 35% of the vote, a parliamentary majority would be your mandate for rejoining Europe. Just don't be surprised if lots of people are unhappy about it.

            5. strum Silver badge

              Re: Benefits

              > this is the first vote on our membership of the EU

              Except for the one in 1975. (And, no, you can't claim that the EEC was substantially different. The Treaty of Rome anticipated political union, way back in 1950.)

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Benefits

            "I like the idea of a fixed result in a democratic decision making process; can we choose the 1945 UK General Election please."

            Nobody is suggesting that we can't apply to rejoin after we've left, but right now we have already left and living two final years under the rules of membership is merely to give everyone time to adapt to the change.

            We could have a second referendum to choose between "the deal on the table" or "hardest Brexit possible under WTO rules", but a second referendum on the decision to leave would require a time machine. We have already left.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Benefits

              "but right now we have already left"

              No we have not. We have started the process to leave.

            2. Zippy's Sausage Factory
              Facepalm

              Re: Benefits

              @Ken Hagan The UK won't have left the EU until March 2019. Until then the UK is still a full member of the European Union.

              Unless you consider that you've left work and are already in the pub while you're still sitting at your desk at half past three on a Friday? Nope, didn't think so.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Benefits

                @Zippy's Sausage Factory .... "Until then the UK is still a full member of the European Union."

                Whilst technically we are a full member of the EU our membership is somewhat half hearted. We don't use the Euro nor are we part of the Schengen Area and unlike the other members states that have yet to adopt either of these key structures we are not obliged to join either. As such we have a very different type of membership to the other 27 yet are still bound by the rules devised for the benefit of the core Euro using Schengen states.

            3. strum Silver badge

              Re: Benefits

              >we have already left

              No we haven't.

            4. Topperfalkon

              Re: Benefits

              "Nobody is suggesting that we can't apply to rejoin after we've left, but right now we have already left and living two final years under the rules of membership is merely to give everyone time to adapt to the change."

              This is the most wrong statement I've seen about Brexit in some time. Congratulations. No, we have not yet left the EU as the Article 50 process has not concluded. The two years are the time we get to bargain over what our future relationship with the EU is, whether there's going to be a "cooling off" period where we pretend to be basically members of the EU still without having the rights of an EU member state, in order to give ourselves time to set up things we'll need when the EU stops providing them, and whether we have ongoing obligations (unhelpfully being referred to as a "divorce bill", whereas it's more like a contract abandonment penalty). It's also been made clear that the EU will probably be receptive to us walking away from the whole "leaving the EU" idea if it starts sounding a bit too crazy to us.

              And yes, we could rejoin the EU at a later date, but we'd be in a significantly poorer position than we're already in, because we'd have to fight again for all the exceptions we sought in our years of membership, and the EU is unlikely to be convinced that giving extra benefits to an already unreliable member is worth their while.

          3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: Benefits

            @MGJ - 1945 UK General Election it is! Good choice!

            You do remember that the UK elects people to Parliament, not parties? So Clement Attlee would still be Prime Minister. I think a Government led by a 50 year-old corpse would lend definite stability to the country. Is there anyone still alive who was elected in 1945?

          4. Libertarian Voice

            Re: Benefits

            So let's just say that we have another referendum and remain win by; hmmmm...; let me think for a minute.... 52%. Do you think that we should have a further referendum or would that be satisfactory for you? 1.7million more people voted to leave than remain; notwithstanding the use of percentages to trivialise it, that is a substantial margin! You lost; get over it; now you know how I felt when the country elected tony friggin blair!

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Benefits

          What scares me is the nutters demanding democracy is overthrown because we didnt vote their way!

          You, sir, need to read up on the meaning of that word.

          Or maybe you believe that one vote at a single point in time should stand for all time, even if it has been shown to be based on lies and fiction, and promises of something undeliverable, in which case may I introduce you to our supreme eternal leader Saint Theresa May...

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Benefits

          " And some now seek to overthrow democracy. What scares me is the nutters demanding democracy is overthrown because we didnt vote their way!"

          Democratic decisions are open to revision at intervals of no more than 5 years in the UK and sometimes more frequently than that if things aren't working out well.

          Unless we're presented with the results of the negotiation to approve or reject we've been committed to the result of a slim advisory vote (don't forget the advisory bit) with no such ability for revision however badly things work out unless we crawl back to the EU to rejoin on whatever terms they choose to offer (bye by GBP).

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Benefits

            @ Doctor Syntax

            "Unless we're presented with the results of the negotiation to approve or reject we've been committed to the result of a slim advisory vote"

            If we are allowed to vote on the outcome we just need to be abused into retracting. The idea that we should not be allowed to leave and every obstacle should be placed before the majority result is enacted is anti-democratic. As slim the victory was it was a majority decision and to democratically change your mind later is fine, but after. After requires we brexit and get on with it for a bit.

            "crawl back to the EU to rejoin on whatever terms they choose to offer (bye by GBP)."

            If that is what people want after we have left and given it a shot then fine. Chances are by then we will have a clearer picture of what the EU will be- the same (sinking ship), federalised (the UK has always rejected this) or common trade area (which people seemed to like). Maybe the EU will do something else or crash out with the next recession, who knows.

            "This (apart from "Your") is something on which we can agree"

            Feel free to ignore mistakes like that. I am dyslexic and have no interest in the extra effort to figure out the correct adjustment of awkward character sequences.

            "There should have been referenda"

            I can agree on referenda but I am sure there is a lot of debate as to the correct terms. Labour did promise such but Blair lied and sold the country badly (could have been worse if Brown didnt hate him) which didnt do the pro-EU argument any favours. The severe deficit of democracy has been a big problem with our membership. Especially because the outcome was known and not what they wanted.

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Benefits

            @ Doctor Syntax

            "unless we crawl back to the EU to rejoin on whatever terms they choose to offer (bye by GBP)."

            Something about that line bothered me and it took a moment before it hit me. Isnt that your desirable outcome? Not necessarily the leaving and crawling back, but the accepting of the EU's terms and adoption of the Euro?

            I am going to generalise across what I see of remain arguments I have encountered so I understand if this doesnt fit you exactly-

            Way back when people like me were called eurosceptic and before we were proved right the argument for the currency was pretty much the same as in/out of the EU that nobody would trade with us and we would be little england if we didnt. But the currency of the EU is the euro and some believe the vote in the 70's was for the EU United States of Europe federalisation etc. Which surely requires we adopt the euro.

            Also the referendum was started with cameron promising huge changes (or he will campaign to leave) which he never got (he claimed victory but the EU would need a unanimous vote on the piddly changes once the result was in). And for ever closer union we would surely be required to fall in line even more to belong to a federalised superstate.

            Also the EU has demonstrated it cannot be trusted to abide by agreed terms. Cameron claimed victory that our EU contribution would not be used to prop up Greece (the euro) and had such signed by the EU itself. Then our contribution was used to prop up Greece and the euro (our successful currency to prop up their collapsing one). Which would suggest the EU (pre-federalised) is more important than the members (take into account the damage the EU inflicted on Greece and other EU countries). So the stated aim of glorious union (remain) must be all for that and accepting of hard times to remain a member?

        4. strum Silver badge

          Re: Benefits

          >Whatever you believe the bill will come to if it is too expensive for you to consider leaving a good idea, you must absolutely support leave because remaining will cost far more.

          The problem with that argument is that we will have to continue to do (and pay for) most of the things we did with the EU - only it'll be less efficient, since it's just for one country.

          Just another of the Brexit delusions.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Benefits

        My guestimate is that the bill will be around £60B

        So, about 4 years of normal contributions then.

        How much will the EU owe us in committed subsidies, investment and rebates?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Benefits

          >>My guestimate is that the bill will be around £60B

          >So, about 4 years of normal contributions then.

          Or just over 1 month of Eurozone QE - it's a big issue here, but the EU states couldn't give a fig - the ECB has conjured 1.2 trillion from air over the past few years.

          1. strum Silver badge

            Re: Benefits

            >the ECB has conjured 1.2 trillion from air over the past few years.

            And a damn good thing too. It has almost certainly paid for itself in growth.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Benefits

        Well.. it originally was budged for £11bn. Therefore, all contractors, sub-contractors, etc. are expected to grab the entire budget. If costs go up, so does the budget. That's exactly the way these things are supposed to work according to many businesses and government agencies. Look to the defense industry as a shining example and leader/trend setter in this sort of thing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Benefits

      With the UK slated to leave the EU by 2020, it is unlikely that any financial penalties will result if the target is missed.

      No penalties are likely on the government, but the prospective fines on energy suppliers are enshrined in UK law through the regulator OFGEM's standard licence conditions, and not imposed directly under the EU directive. So the UK government and/or regulator would need to repeal those conditions. However, because the UK government are fervent worshippers at the alter of climate change, they actually believe that smart meters are an essential part of forcing down your energy use. If simple visibility of the bills and rising prices driven by government policy isn't enough, then they hope that complicated time of use tariffs will compel you.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Benefits

        @ledswinger. This government is not interested in climate change - the important thing is to get shit smart meters into every home quickly so they can avoid putting in smart meters that are useful to the customer. If the customer had a smart meter that actually told them the price as it changed then that would be very useful to the customer but as it they are they are double extra shit.

        When I'm in the house and its sunny I can have free hot water because I know I can turn my immersion heater on and it will be powered by my PV. If I'm in the office I cant tell how much the electricity company is charging me unless I get someone to pop round and have a look in the cupboard. Ditto 2am. I dont know of any electricity companies that will fit a smart meter that can do this but if you know of one I'd be happy to move. Except I'm in the country and they cant actually run one at my house yet.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Benefits

          "If the customer had a smart meter that actually told them the price as it changed then that would be very useful to the customer" "If I'm in the office I cant tell how much the electricity company is charging me unless I get someone to pop round and have a look in the cupboard. Ditto 2am"

          You're talking about instantly dynamic pricing based on a sort of hour-by-hour supply and demand view, yes? While this might be interesting and allow you to live your life by a dynamic tariff, it would make billing hugely complex and difficult for consumers to understand - energy bills are already unnecessarily complicated - why does the first x units used cost more/less than the second y units in a month, for example?

          It would all be magic anyway. Supply/demand pricing isn't because the cost of electricity is changing dynamically, it's just a way of trying to get individuals to spread the lecky load, which frankly I'd rather they did through the central infrastructure anyway.

          "Why is my bill so high this month?" "Oh, demand peaked at 3:01pm while you were using your washing machine that day, so we increased the price, sorry"

        2. M_W

          Re: Benefits

          Get yourself an iBoost linked to your PV and it will do that automatically :)

    3. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Benefits

      @ Len Goddard

      "Best argument for brexit I've seen so far."

      Just one of many. Both for rules and for reduced costs

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Benefits

        ...Both for rules and for reduced costs

        Those would be the rules that are going to be instantly ported across from EU law into UK law by the Brexit act?

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "Best argument for brexit I've seen so far."

      Only argument I've seen for Brexit so far.

      Or HMG could take a leaf out of the Germans book and say it it is not in their economic interest to p**s away this obscene amount of cash in the first place.

      UK readers.

      Now might be a good time to write to your MP and tell them "Do not wan, do not need. A massive waste of tax payers money, either by taxing directly (VAT on bills) or by the cash on the bills themselves."

    5. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Benefits

      "Best argument for brexit I've seen so far".

      I agree, not much of an argument, is it.

    6. Scroticus Canis
      Holmes

      Re: Benefits - financial penalties

      The financial penalties are already being paid by all consumers on the grids and probably more for those with these IoS meters installed.

    7. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Benefits

      Len this is Trump hating, Brexit hating, Global Warming believing leftie Register. You can't say Brexit here without getting THumbs down.

    8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Benefits

      "Best argument for brexit I've seen so far."

      Or at least, offset a little of the cost.

  3. werdsmith Silver badge

    Most disappointing about my smart meter installation is the remote monitor. It has a permanently on backlit display and a green LED which is out of sight on the underside when the display stand up. Almost as if it was designed to waste enough power to pay for itself a few times over.

    Switched off and stuffed in a drawer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Almost as if it was designed to waste enough power to pay for itself a few times over

      Smart meters use far more power than the mechanical versions. A full national roll out will consume around 250 MW of additional power. So I wouldn't worry about the LEDs on the display - they're perhaps 5% of the extra energy your smart meters are using.

      1. theOtherJT

        A full national roll out will consume around 250 MW of additional power

        Do you have a source for that? I mean, it seems intuitive to me that these things will consume more power - but I'd love to see some actual figures for how much more.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Do you have a source for that? I mean, it seems intuitive to me that these things will consume more power - but I'd love to see some actual figures for how much more."

          ...and from which side of the meter does the meter itself draw power? Has anyone who has one ever tried shutting down their entire household supply and noted if the meter is still charging you for powering itself?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Do you have a source for that?

          I've worked in the industry, and that 250 MW estimate was my extrapolation of DECC figures that were published, but I'm sorry ICBA to dig out the specific report they came from. There's stuff in the public SMETS2 specifications if you want to look, but that's long, technical and dull, and you still need to make assumptions. The actual meter is only about 4 watts (and it is widely assumed that's taken before the meter, though I can't find evidence either way). The home hub and in home display from memory are in the range 10-20W together, and there's some other technical losses on things like the auxiliary load switch. And there's all the energy used by the "Data Communications Company" and their data centre, that'll be a few MW of entirely incremental wasted energy.

          The gas meters are battery powered. Which means that every ten years or so they have to be taken out. In theory the battery could be replaced, the meter recalibrated to standard, and refitted. Realistically most will be thrown away.

          You're paying for all the energy use, and all the meters, it really doesn't matter whether that's directly in your bill or not.

  4. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    In theory it could save money if it allows companies to charge a different rate for every hour of the day. Don't put your washing machine on between 5 and 8, say.

    Whether that would work out like that is unlikely - the energy companies would use it to further confuse pricing to the point where you wouldn't have a clue which was the cheapest.

    1. davidp231

      Worked for the Economy 7 tariff... was cheaper to use the washer/drier in the evenings.

      1. 27escape

        This would have been the smartest move, to re-introduce simple tariffs like that, but there are no plans in the pipeline, no plans for instant payments, just the 'budget' plans that help the electric companies more than the consumers

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Economy n Tariffs haven't gone away, but tend to be confined to large "traditional" suppliers. I've got Economy 10 (it adds a cheap period in the afternoon) principally for heating hot water from the ground source heat pump. It makes less difference with the heating itself as that's running at a constant temperature.

      2. JazzyFizzles

        Burning down the house

        Yep, until the tumble dryers started catching fire!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Worked for the Economy 7 tariff... was cheaper to use the washer/drier in the evenings.

        E7 was always a solution for the (state owned) energy industry's problems, not yours. The very nature of any time of use tariff means that if you get cheaper than standard off peak power, you have to have more expensive peak power (otherwise somebody's taking a big loss, or you've invented some form of perpetual motion machine).

        The consequence of higher peak and lower off-peak rates is that there is a magic proportion of power you have to use off peak to be better off. And depending on the tariffs, that's somewhere around 35-45% of your total demand, which is quite a lot to use between 12:00 and 07:00.

        When I worked for an energy supplier, we reckoned that at least one third (possibly more) E7 customers were paying more than they would be on a flat rate tariff. As a rough guide, you have to have time controlled electric storage heaters set around the E7 period as a minimum. North of Leeds that might be enough on its own, south of Leeds you probably need to run all your dishwashers, tumble dryers and washing machines in the E7 period as well. Obviously, if you'rte on night shifts, or have some non-standard use pattern, things will be different.

        1. Mike 125

          Leeds

          >>The consequence of higher peak and lower off-peak rates is that there is a magic proportion of power you have to use off peak to be better off.

          I had a flat *in* Leeds, which had E7 with the original big chunky storage rads, the real deal. There was no gas, I was out all day, so the arrangement worked pretty well. I sold it, and later was shown around by the proud new owner. He demonstrated his 'app', which allowed him to monitor the consumption of his funky new standard convector panel heaters... no storage in sight and still on E7. I didn't have the heart to explain.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        barbecue

        great idea. Have your Hotpoint/Whirlpool tumbler drier turn on at night so you can be roasted while you sleep.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Time-of-use electricity pricing

      In theory it could save money if it allows companies to charge a different rate for every hour of the day. Don't put your washing machine on between 5 and 8, say.

      That's what they did in Ontario, Canada a few years back when I was living there: you had the cheap tariff during the night, the peak rates during the day, and an intermediate pricing at a few other times. However, both the "peak" and the "intermediate" rates were substantially higher than the old time-average rate, while the "cheap" rate was only slightly below. They've also added a special, non-optional surcharge for having the smart meter installed, and upped the fixed costs.

      At the same time this was happening, I've put in LED lighting throughout. I also religiously followed the "cheap" times for everything I could (dishwasher, washer, drier - and that's basically it; there is no real way to "defer" cooking, or watching the telly, or running the A/C or the furnace; sitting in the dark also gets a bit boring after a while). The net result was that our household's electricity consumption more or less halved over the next two years. During the same time, our electricity bill (again more or less) doubled. Then it dropped again for a while - but only because the government, eager to be re-elected, introduced an "electricity rebate" scheme - ie upped the taxes (which we notice only once a year, when it's time to pay up) to subside the electricity bill (which is an annoyance every month).

      I suppose there must have been some people who ended up saving money with the smart-meter program in Ontario, but I have never met them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It already exists...

      I'm in the process of switching to a tariff that's smart-meter based that charges 4.99p (per kWh) overnight, 11.99p most of the rest of the time, with the exception of 4-7pm on weekdays when it jumps up to 24.99p.

      The reason being? I've just bought a Plug-In Hybrid car. So I can schedule it to start charging at 11pm and it'll be fully charged by 8am for a third of the price that I'd have to pay my current supplier. Or to put it another way, I'll be able to commute to work for less than 50p (whereas it was costing me £3 in diesel each way).

      On top of that, I already have a smart meter, and was able to download usage from my current supplier at half-hour resolution as a CSV file. Whack it into Excel, couple of formulae, and worked out that with my current (non car-charging) use, plus proposed car charging use, I'd be over £200/year better off. Win.

      So yes, they will save some people money - and as electric cars become more and more prevelant, it'll add even greater flexibility.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It already exists...

        "I'd be over £200/year better off. Win."

        That can't be allowed. Your tariffs will be changed to ensure you lose.

    4. ilmari

      These tariffs are available elsewhere in Europe. Suppliers offer different "day-ahead market price + margin" tariffs, for example.

      It works as long as a minority uses those tariffs, and as long as demand isn't too flexible (everyone choosing to use all their power at 3am to charge Tesla powerwall when it's cheapest).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] the energy companies would use it to further confuse pricing to the point where you wouldn't have a clue which was the cheapest."

    I am confused enough already. On my last gas bill British Gas showed my annual consumption was the same as the year before. It also raised my monthly budget payments from £28 to £41. A couple of weeks later another letter arrived raising that to £45.

    A few weeks later a letter said that a mistake had been made on my billing and a new bill would be sent within 7 days. That was 20 days ago - no letter yet. Ringing the number provided gave a long spiel on how to claim "poverty" benefits etc before going to the whack-a-digit system. Finally getting the "speak to human" option - "We are very busy - current waiting time is 30 minutes". My cordless phone only lasts about that long before needing a recharge.

    1. sitta_europea Bronze badge

      "On my last gas bill British Gas showed ..."

      British Ghasp couldn't find its arse with both hands tied behind its back.

      I kicked them into touch after they tried to charge me eight grand for three days when the meter went wrong.

      I wouldn't use British Ghasp again if they were the only supplier on the planet.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Want to get your Bristish Gas bill sorted out?

      Write to them and ask for the final bill.

      Switch supplier to literally anybody else.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      For $deity's sake don't use the Big Six

      I've never seen any of them on the first page of comparison results.

      Get your annual totals and plug them into a meerkat, Welsh opera singer, dancing skeleton etc.

      Use your real annuals, the standing charge/unit cost variation is very important.

      I change supplier every year, and every time I get around 10-15% refunded due to overcharging.

      Seems that all the energy companies do the "oh, turns out you do use less than average energy, sorry we charged you too much for six months" - despite providing the annual total use for the previous year and regular meter readings.

      I don't think I'm that relatively efficient, everyone uses LED lighting these days.

    4. Whit.I.Are

      You're lucky. After getting smart meters fitted I got an email from British Gas to inform me that my monthly direct debit was being increased to £4327.56...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this projected saving just based on usage? I would have thought most of the savings would be from not having to send engineers out to read meters so often as don't they submit readings automatically? I might be wrong though.

    1. inmypjs Silver badge

      "savings would be from not having to send engineers out to read meters"

      You don't need an engineer to read a meter. I can get someone to drive to my house, pick up a parcel, transport it half way across the country where it is driven to someone else's house and delivered for less than 3 quid.

      Just how much do you think it ought to cost to have someone read a meter a couple of times a year? Especially if they got their shit together tried to read them all at the same time.

      Savings could come from dynamic electricity pricing to reduce peak demand and better match demand to supply but I am not convinced the current generation of meters are capable of supporting that and we don't have smart appliances and the rest of the infrastructure required to implement it painlessly.

      There is no such saving possible for gas supply and that they are trying to force smart gas meters on people tells you it was never about efficiency or saving. It was always about forcing consumers to install real time guilt displays (at their own expense).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just how much do you think it ought to cost to have someone read a meter a couple of times a year?

        How many meters can a meter reader do in an hour? Working very slowly, and with a lot of "no answers" I'd reckon they should still do an average of five an hour. There's no skill involved, so this can be "living wage" work, at say £7.50. Add half as much again for the overheads (NI, pension, van, fuel, hand held device), and we're up to £11.25. Divide by five, and it costs around £2.25 per meter reading. As you note, better planning will get the number of reads up per hour, but in the grand scheme of things the cost of manual meter reading is peanuts (and it gives somebody a job, somebody who will spend most of their income and thus a good benefit to the economy).

      2. Colonel Mad

        That company have never made a profit!

    2. MOV r0,r0

      Is this projected saving just based on usage?

      It's not about savings - there are practically none! It's about forcing a change of behaviour through differential pricing as there is no longer enough generating capacity to allow further increase in peak demand.

      Old and polluting capacity reached end of life with replacement green generating capacity too small and variable to properly replace the base load loss. That variability also distorts the market making it difficult for your energy supplier, who is in essence a big hedging company, by increasing risk. It's an ages old problem that successive governments all saw coming and all chose to kick the can down the road.

      Also, Hinkley Point C. Also, legislative commitment to electric vehicles and the massive load they'll present. We have no energy security, that is the sort of thing we used to fight military battles over and I think we're about to find out why.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Hinkley C needed building years ago

        Successive Government hand-wringing, dilly-dallying and time wasting increased the price, but it's still the cheapest way to get that amount of non-fossil-fuel energy.

        If we want electric cars to be something other than rich people's playthings, then we need a D, E, F, G and possibly H as well.

        Transport uses more energy than you think.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most of us said years ago

    that these things were, at best a white elephant and at worst a cynical move by the energy companies.

    I said that the government would not halt the progress to save face. With its disastrous record in expensive, failed IT projects it daren't.

    So, 6 years later, here we all are, still discussing what a fucking waste of money these things are.

    God, I hate being right all the time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Most of us said years ago

      The Greek gods gave Cassandra the power of predicting disasters. They added their usual Catch-22 clauses that no one would believe her - and she was fated to suffer the disasters too.

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Most of us said years ago

      No you don't.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Most of us said years ago

      I bought a Solar Panel setup for my Roof. This was to primarily charge my EV.

      The side effect was to give two fingers to having a smart meter fitted to my home.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Most of us said years ago

        The side effect was to give two fingers to having a smart meter fitted to my home.

        Smart meters were never mandated for people, they were an obligation on energy companies. You could and still can say no. But bear in mind that the SMETS2 smart meters that will shortly be introduced can cope with electricity exports, so there's no technical reason why your can't have one.

  8. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    It's not about saving you money, it's about enabling *green* energy

    A country of households outfitted with "smart" meters can be selectively shut down whenever the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining. Of course, this may incentivise the install of small and highly polluting generators, but the geniuses who decided we needed to buy more diesels will doubtless spend lots of money trying to subsidise Tesla's bottom line anyway.

    1. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: It's not about saving you money, it's about enabling *green* energy

      "it's about enabling *green* energy"

      And how do smart gas meters enable green energy?

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: It's not about saving you money, it's about enabling *green* energy

        They inject green ink as it passes through the pipe or cable.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: It's not about saving you money, it's about enabling *green* energy

        "And how do smart gas meters enable green energy?"

        As he described. If you can switch the country off when the green power isn't available, you don't need to have any non-green power in reserve.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common sense is free!

    Simple – if you *need* to use energy then use it, if you don’t then don’t. Boiling a full kettle will take more energy than boiling for 1 cup, a hot long shower will cost more than a short warm one, an eco wash cycle will cost less than a 60deg wash. I really don’t need a gadget to teach me common sense.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Common sense is free!

      Flatmate: "How comes your laundry comes out smelling alright and actually looks clean?"

      Me: "Because I put mine on twice a week at the weekends, separated into colours and whites, for the full-on-dirty-person 4-hour long bastard-cycle with prewash, extended wash, vigorous action, extra rinsing and 60 minute drying cycle, at 60°C and I use a traditional non-bio powder, Vanish in-wash, stain catchers and fabric conditioner whereas you throw all your clothes in with your uniform, regardless of colour, along with a liquid all-in-one capsule in the hour before you have to leave for work, you set it to the ultra-quick wash'n'wear 15 minute cycle with 30 minutes of drying, which means (a) the capsule takes about 5 minutes before it breaks so the detergent is only acting for 5 minutes, (b) the wash is automatically limited to 40°C max and it barely has time to reach that temperature before it needs to start rinsing with cold anyway and (c) the rest of the stuff in the wash which you haven't grabbed and ironed quickly before you head off to work remains sitting, slightly damp, in the washing machine for days on end getting musty until I eventually have to put a load on and pull it all out for you and leave it in a basket in the kitchen until you get sick and tired of tripping over it and decide to move it somewhere, God-knows-where, never to be seen again."

      Flatmate: "Ah. That'll be it then."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Common sense is free!

        and I use a traditional non-bio powder

        Seems to be at odds with the rest of your mission for clean clothes? "Biological" washing powders/liquids were one of the biggest advances in cleaning technology since synthetic detergents.

        Of course, if there's a health reason, then fair-dos.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Common sense is free!

          Yeah, it does my skin in. And wearing anything with more than about 40% synthetic fibres drives me up the wall by the end of the day.

          I dispute that enzymatic washing products are actually any better than synthetic detergents, or even old fashioned oil and lye based soap flakes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Common sense is free!

            "I dispute that enzymatic washing products are actually any better than synthetic detergents, or even old fashioned oil and lye based soap flakes."

            Take the environmental approach. Murder a fat person (or just find one dead of natural causes) put them in the washing machine with your washing and a good cupful of sodium hydroxide. Voila! Natural soap, clean clothes, and one less salad dodger.

          2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

            Re: Common sense is free!

            > I dispute that enzymatic washing products are actually any better than synthetic detergents, or even old fashioned oil and lye based soap flakes.

            Useful (but possibly little known) fact: biological washing powder is quite good as a paint stripper. Ideal for something that you don't want to risk more powerful solvents on, e.g. painted plastic. Just leave it to soak for a day or two.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Common sense is free!

              I use the Vanish Oxy-clean on a damp dishcloth to wipe down paintwork. It eats through the greasy film that forms in and around the kitchen.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Common sense is free!

                I use the Vanish Oxy-clean on a damp dishcloth to wipe down paintwork. It eats through the greasy film that forms in and around the kitchen.

                Does it work on the greasy film that forms the queue in most Greggs, or populates any Wetherspoons?

    2. Badvok
      Mushroom

      Re: Common sense is free!

      Common sense may be free, but it is far from freely available.

      Take 'er-in-doors as an example, always turning off the 7W LED hallway light to save energy while wandering around chatting on the phone leaving the 2KW iron on the ironing board heating up the utility room.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Common sense is free!

        I have one of them too (an indoors type, not an iron).

        Fills kettle to 90%. Gets bored of waiting for it to boil. Wanders away to do somethng else. Comes back 10 minutes later to find kettle has boiled, switched off, and partly cooled down. Swicthes kettle back on to reboil. Wanders away again........

        1. MK_E

          Re: Common sense is free!

          And this right here is why I got me one of them single-cup boilers.

      2. Roger Greenwood

        Re: Common sense is free!

        But, but, 7 is much more than 2! :-)

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Common sense is free!

          And 11 is even better!

  10. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Ultimately this wasn't really to benefit consumers it was to reduce overall energy consumption across the country. Not only that it paves the way for electricity companies to turn your smart appliances like your fridge or freezer (when they become widely used) down a notch when power demand is high. It also makes the army of meter readers mostly redundant. Saving money for consumers is the last thing on the energy companies' mind and £10 a year is throwing a small bone at them to make it look as if it's a benefit to them.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Except that none of those use smart meters.

      The smart meter dewign spec has the following features.

      100A contactor for remote disconnection.

      Radio system for remote reading and configuration.

      Radio system for remote real-time display.

      To me, that looks like a way to shed load, or to draw a cock'n'balls visible from the ISS.

      1. Seajay
        Coffee/keyboard

        "To me, that looks like a way … to draw a cock'n'balls visible from the ISS."

        That just made me spray tea all over my desk. Just imagining the crew of the space station watching, as selective blackouts draw that 700 mile long picture across the UK...

  11. Bob Dunlop

    Monitoring your power can save money. I used it to spot a faulty security light that was staying on all night once.

    Of course that was with a twenty quid CurrentCost clamp on meter and a short perl script I knocked up. No way for the government's chums to monetise that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Of course that was with a twenty quid CurrentCost clamp on meter and a short perl script I knocked up. No way for the government's chums to monetise that."

      I don't wish to seem harsh, but couldn't you have twitched the curtain and seen the light? If you need metering and a computer interface, I'd suggest it wasn't providing much security, either.

  12. AndrueC Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I'm surprised it saves anyone anything. The kind of people that leave stuff on when they aren't using it aren't the kind of people who will look at a smart meter anyway.

    And anyone with First Utility at least won't benefit because their stupid Siemens meter won't stay on the 'current usage' display for more than a minute or two. At least if the meter is continuously showing a usage - perhaps a graph of the last hour - there's a chance you might spot something odd like a cooker ring left on. But no, the FU meter switches back to showing your next estimated bill if you don't touch it.

    Oh and it's a small (size of a pack of cigarettes), low-res, monochrome unit as well. Something that most people would probably rather leave in a drawer out of sight. I have done.

  13. Martin 63
    Facepalm

    Well beyond my end of life before I save the planet then

    I had a smart meter fitted for electric and gas under one supplier, changed to another supplier and they needed to fit a new one. That's a bit daft from a saving the planet perspective.

    Plus the new gas one doesn't read anything. Another engineer is now probably coming out to pull out some isolation tab to make it read something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well beyond my end of life before I save the planet then

      changed to another supplier and they needed to fit a new one

      Chances are that the meter currently fitted is a SMETS1 specification. Only SMETS2 counts towards the government targets, so unless you're one of the 1% with SMETS2 meters, or they can do a OTA upgrade, there's a very good chance you'll need these meters ripping out and replacing.

      <Pitifully, with sympathy and sadnesss>Why did you agree to have them fitted? The Commentariat have had near universal agreement that smart meters are a POS, so it isn't as though we didn't warn you.

      1. Bald Cuttlefish

        Re: Well beyond my end of life before I save the planet then

        I was under the impression that SMETS1 meters did count towards the target, especially as some manufacturers were not going to be implementing SMETS2 (and some are woefully behind on them). There's also a fair amount of money being spent on integration projects at the moment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well beyond my end of life before I save the planet then

          I was under the impression that SMETS1 meters did count towards the target,

          As with anything to do with smart meters, its needlessly complicated. SMETS1 count until a cutoff date which I think is October of this year. After that date they can be installed, but don't count unless they can be made SMETS2 compliant before 2020. That could be by OTA upgrade, on-site firmware upgrade, or hardware replacement. The fate of the earlier, non-upgradeable SMETS1 meters is unclear. In theory they can stay put, but the supplier I worked for believed that its SMETS1 meters couldn't be made SMETS2 compliant and would need replacing - particularly when a customer switched supplier, because SMETS1 meters don't work very well in that situations. It is possible that DCC will manage to make all the different SMETS1 meters work inter-operably, but that'd be a big challenge for anybody. And with Capita running DCC, what do you reckon?

          especially as some manufacturers were not going to be implementing SMETS2

          Manufacturers might choose not to, all suppliers have to install SMETS2 (or upgradeable) meters after the cut off date (or face fines of millions of pounds, and still have to install them). If a meter manufacturer chooses not to do SMETS2, it will exclude itself from the UK meter market.

          1. Bald Cuttlefish

            Re: Well beyond my end of life before I save the planet then

            <i> It is possible that DCC will manage to make all the different SMETS1 meters work inter-operably, but that'd be a big challenge for anybody. And with Capita running DCC, what do you reckon? </i>

            Depends if it's Capita or somebody else who writes it for them...

            It is a big challenge, and some decisions made for commercial reasons have made it worse (at least in the current time, I don't hear everything in my cave). I'm not aware of any upgradable meters, plus there's no certified SMETS2 meters so I don't see how the October deadline will work.

            <i>If a meter manufacturer chooses not to do SMETS2, it will exclude itself from the UK meter market.</i>

            That depends on whether you can talk to the meter/ch directly, or if you have to go via their central system....

  14. Wyrdness

    I want a smart water meter

    My water bill is based on the old rateable value of my 3 bedroom flat. Most of the time, it's just me and the cat there. My girlfriend lives elsewhere and my child visits at weekends.

    I usually shower at the gym and child showers at the pool, after swimming. The cat refuses to take showers. My only significant water usage is the washing machine, but that's just my clothes. Child's mother does his washing and the cat's only contribution to dirty washing is occasionally peeing on things.

    Despite this, my water bill is £70 a month, which is more than my gas and electricity combined. I've just applied for a smart water meter in the hope that it will reduce my water bill my considerably more than £10 a year. Though I can certainly live without smart meters for gas and electricity.

    1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

      Re: I want a smart water meter

      My cat hops into the bath and turns the tap on. Clearly my moggy is more advanced than yours :-)

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: I want a smart water meter

        My cat hops into the bath and turns the tap on. Clearly my moggy is more advanced than yours :-)

        Mine is more advaned still. Waits for me to run the bath - why have a dog and bark?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I want a smart water meter

      I want a smart water meter

      Why do you want a smart water meter? A straightforward mechanical (or even dumb ultrasonic) water meter will do the job, without all the Internet of Twattery problems of any smart meter.

    3. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I want a smart water meter

      £70 a month? My non-metered, unable to be metered, property is £26 a month all in sewerage and supply. My metered property is £12.06 a month.

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: I want a smart water meter

      my advice is to get a micro-hydro-power plant and connect it to your coldwater supply and out down the loo.

    5. Alex Brett

      Re: I want a smart water meter

      The water company replaced my original electronic meter (that was wired up to a disc on the outside of the house for them to read it with) as it failed (display went entirely blank etc) - the replacement is a 'smart meter' in the sense that it sends readings to them via GSM or similar, but it has a really annoying loud 'clicking' sound every time significant water runs through it that reverberates through the pipework.

      When I first raised this they sent someone out to swap it, but (and to be fair to the guy he warned me beforehand it probably wouldn't solve it but he'd been told to do it so had to) it appears to be part of the design.

      Considering getting them to move it outside now in the hope the extra distance reduces the reverberation because at the moment it means I can't e.g. run the washing machine overnight as the noise is too annoying...

    6. smudge Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I want a smart water meter

      My only significant water usage is the washing machine, but that's just my clothes.

      I am curiously intrigued to know how/where you expel waste from your body. The icon says it all.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: I want a smart water meter

        "I am curiously intrigued to know how/where you expel waste from your body. "

        He only shits at work, where there is also a shower (for folk who cycle in) and he never flushes his pees?

        It's probably possible, if you can stay employed.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: I want a smart water meter

          A modern washing machine uses 40-50 litres of water per wash, apparently. A flush is 5 or 7.

    7. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I want a smart water meter

      Wyrdness, in all honesty and sincerity, it sounds like your toilet is leaking. Most likely the flapper valve inside the tank.

      I've experienced the same problem many times. I now know that when my water bill goes up mysteriously for 2 months or more, the toilet needs fixing and it is almost always the flapper valve. Sometimes it's the fill valve.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: I want a smart water meter

        In the UK we don't use flap valve toilets because they're rubbish and often leak.

        We use siphon flushes, these are inherently leak proof as there is no valve at all between the cistern and the bowl.

        My loos are at least twenty years old and have never leaked. One of them might be older than me, it's hard to be sure.

        I've replaced one filler valve, and one flush lever arm after it rusted through. That's it.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: I want a smart water meter

          Unfortunately, since the Water Fitting Regulations 1999 which brought EU regulations and standardisation into the UK market in order to open up more competition from overseas cistern manufacturers, dump valves and flappers can now legally be fitted. Although most flappers tend to leak too much to satisfy the testing required to gain the EU approval mark dump valves, when tested in the lab, appear to have a life of around 30 years. In practice, the presence of corrosion particles, limescale build up, cistern additives and other water contaminants means that a dump valve will fail far, far sooner than a syphon, and it's most common failure mode is open, leading to increased water loss. This is only tolerated because the same regulations limit the water inlet speed (for reasons of noise), and reduce the volume held in the cistern.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: I want a smart water meter

            Of course, one way to watch for a leaking dump/drop-valve cistern is to give the inside of the bowl a good old squirt of some colourful under-the-rim agent like Toilet Duck or Harpic-Power. Observe the area at the back of the bowl and see if the colour there fades much more rapidly than an area of similar slope. These valves can leak at a rate below anything perceptible to the eye, often at rates below that recordable by a water meter (around 2.5 litres and hour, I am led to believe). That's a whopping 22,000 litres per year per toilet that could be saved by going back to valveless cisterns.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I want a smart water meter

              often at rates below that recordable by a water meter (around 2.5 litres and hour

              In which case I won't care. There's no real water shortage in this country, it is only because the water companies lose 25-33% of water from their leakage that we have any issues. When they;ve got their house in order, I'll worry about mine.

              And having tried to interest the local water company in fixing visible leaks, they're at best third-hearted. If they won't fix the leaks I report, why would I worry about something below the resolution of my water meter?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I want a smart water meter

            a dump valve will fail far, far sooner than a syphon

            That may be true, but a typical commodity grade syphon is pretty ineffective at flushing a dreadnought, or a bog-stopping wad of toilet roll. On any modern low volume cistern and bowl, far better to fit a flap valve and keep an eye out for leakage. All three of ours appear OK with an average "in service" age of nine years.

            I'd have syphons banned purely because they're so bloody useless as most makers design them.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I want a smart water meter

        "Wyrdness, in all honesty and sincerity, it sounds like your toilet is leaking."

        I think you missed the point that his water isn't metered.

  15. defiler Silver badge

    Smart meters and electricity storage

    I had a small thought on this over the weekend. It's an idea that's been floated a few times - when we all have electric cars, these can be used to provide "surge" supply onto the grid, rather than using pumped storage hydro and similar. That way, it's all nicely distributed, and the end user picks up the tab for providing the infrastructure. The thing is, though, that if you've spent 15p/kWh (for example) charging your car, you don't want to sell that back to the grid at wholesale 4p/kWh (or whatever it is). That gives the supplier a huge incentive to draw electricity from you.

    So, an export meter won't work.

    What you want in this case is a meter that'll run backwards, to fully refund you for the electricity you're providing. Only they've got rid of all of these.

    Not sure there are enough faces to palm over this whole project.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

      I had a small thought on this over the weekend. It's an idea that's been floated a few times

      More than a few times, a subject of much talk in the electricity sector. Without explaining the full system and commercial complexities (I could, but it would take around 1,200 words, and answering the follow on questions at least the same again), the chances are that "export power response" services will need to become a mandatory condition of charging an EV from the grid in future, and you'll have to suffer a fairly paltry export rate.

      The idea of being paid a profitable rate for your re-export may sound nice, it doesn't work when you consider things like your charge/discharge losses, your limitations on availability, your need to set a maximum rate and amount of export. The reason you SHOULD always get a paltry re-export rate is that you car cannot offer what the commercial battery storage operators can: a much better, cheaper, more reliable service to the grid services market. So the price for battery storage should be set by a yard full of stacked shipping containers, stacked with cheap generic battery modules, and clever control systems. Compared to the say 70 kWh of your EV battery, a battery storage system operating in the grid services market, say for EFR, will be a minimum of 400 GWh, and up to five times that.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

        @Ledswinger

        "The idea of being paid a profitable rate for your re-export may sound nice"

        That's not what I'm driving at, though. I'm just looking to be paid the same to export a kWh as I paid to import it. I'd "happily" accept the losses due to chemistry, inverters etc - that would be a price I'd sort-of expect to pay. I just think it's unreasonable for me to pull electricity into the house at rate n and for the electricity company to be able to demand that back out again at rate n/4 when all I've done is kept it safe for them.

        Also just wait for the first Enron-a-like to notice that they can "flip" electricity through their customers and glean 3n/4 for each kWh they manage to channel. Cha-ching!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

          I'm just looking to be paid the same to export a kWh as I paid to import it.

          Sorry, but answering that one comprehensively gets me into thousands of words about how electricity grid systems work, how settlement and billing work, how grid operators get paid, how corporate and system overheads get recovered, the technical and financial consequences of not being able to meet a contracted generation output, and the value of unsubsidised, unguaranteed "spot" power.

          To put is simply, you'll never get that equal export=import unless the politicians come up with a complex subsidy lark (similar to PV feed in tariffs). That is possible, but it means you would be being paid a big fat subsidy from everybody else, unless EV battery export happened to be sufficiently reliable and sizeable to save huge amounts of money on either/both grid reinforcement, or contracted ancillary services. In some instances it will - but mainly in built up urban areas, where electricity networks are at capacity and upgrades are expensive - but equally car ownership in these locations is likely to be low.

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

            @Ledswinger

            Yep - certainly not looking for a fast answer. As I say, it's something that struck me whilst driving. However, I'll make the observation that the point at which the electricity is drawn from your parked vehicle would surely be when the spot price of electricity is very high. Otherwise there's no point in drawing that energy out.

    2. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

      Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

      There's also the small matter of your cool e-car's batteries not taking too kindly to being drawn on too often whenever the wind drops. Li-ion is good for 600 cycles or so :-(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

        There's also the small matter of your cool e-car's batteries not taking too kindly to being drawn on too often whenever the wind drops

        As my posts will atest, I'm not tree hugger, but this is one area where you're wrong. The traction demands on EV batteries are brutal, so that's a baseline of battery upon battery. The much more carefully managed static draw/recharge loads actually improve battery life. There's some recent academic research that looked at this, and the starting point was "By how much do we shag the battery using for grid support?", and all involved were surprised to find out that it actually improved the service life of the battery.

    3. Nial

      Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

      "The thing is, though, that if you've spent 15p/kWh (for example) charging your car, you don't want to sell that back to the grid "

      You might also want to have your car charged to go to work in the morning, or be at work when it probably won't be plugged in.

      Some people haven't thought this 'smart' malarky though very well.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

        "Some people haven't thought this 'smart' malarky though very well."

        That's pretty much the definition of smart to me. Smart is the generic buzzword applied to things to make them sound more interesting than they are, such as referring to corporate networks as "server estates" or "private clouds"

        There's a sign on the office noticeboard here that says "Just because you can do something with technology doesn't mean you should". There are millions of old utility meters across the country getting replaced for no reason other than someone thought it might be a good idea.

    4. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

      "all have electric cars, these can be used to provide "surge" supply onto the grid"

      Batteries cost more than the mains electricity they can charge and discharge in their lifetime. If time shifting electricity with batteries was cost effective if would already be done and it isn't except by a few morons drinking Musk's Kool-aid.

      If I had an EV I sure wouldn't be looking to wear out the batteries even quicker by using to prop up the grid - not without the price of mains electricity being artificially hiked much more than it is now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smart meters and electricity storage

        If time shifting electricity with batteries was cost effective if would already be done and it isn't except by a few morons drinking Musk's Kool-aid.

        The system price (what suppliers pay generators) varies hugely, by time and location, and what most of us pay is a blended flat rate based on average demand profiles. For wholesale market participants, there's times and places where electricity can be free (even negatively priced under some government schemes), conversely peak winter demand prices (including out of balance penalties and DNO peak pricing) can be up to £50 per kWh that you're charged 12p for. This means that there's ample opportunity to provide peaking and demand response services from batteries, and there's several hundred MW of battery capability already connected in the UK That can be for demand response, for "behind the meter" use to avoid peak customer charges, and distribution grids are also using batteries to smooth off peaks and avoid the need for building expensive new power lines, such as the 10 MWh Leighton Buzzard installation. With battery prices falling due to rising volumes, stronger supply chains and R&D, the commercial opportunities are growing very fast.

        If I had an EV I sure wouldn't be looking to wear out the batteries even quicker by using to prop up the grid

        See my comment above. Because most users need the EV fully charged in the morning, the grid support would be for quite low levels of discharge, with rules along the lines "battery available if grid connected between 19:00 and 06:00; drawn down not more than 10% of maximum capacity; no draw down if battery below 30% maximum charge; draw down only permitted if no evening/night car use likely; battery charge status to be user-specified minimum or default 85% of full charge by 06:00".

        Rules like that will minimise the user inconvenience, and careful charge, discharge management will extend the service life of the battery. I would expect all battery owners to be able to opt out of such a scheme, but I'd want to be included not for any financial reward, just to keep the battery optimised. If you lease your car or the battery, you might not find you have a choice!

        not without the price of mains electricity being artificially hiked much more than it is now.

        I'm not sure the hiking is "artificial". It is a real world outcome of government energy policies, so that in the UK, all the pell-mell rush for solar, wind and new nuclear (plus grid reinforcement to support the renewables) and this means that prices will for the most part continue to rise for the next decade unless government policy abandons the obsession with climate change and renewables. In rough terms, 40% of your total electricity bill is now due to these policy costs. Pick your side: If you're a climate change enthusiast, you have to welcome government actions and the price rises. If you're not convinced by the full logic-set of the climate change arguments, then you;d want government to change policy, and for the construction of a fleet of new baseload and mid-merit CCGT power plants that would be far cheaper than follies like Hinkley Point, and would provide reliable power unlike wind and solar. Nuclear would be a good compromise for both sides to provide baseload and high load factor plant, except that the supply chain and regulators have made it unaffordably expensive.

  16. Martin 63

    @ ledswinger

    Agreed its a POS, but its my POS now. Why is not something to post. But from the inside (of using these puppies) replacing them doesn't save stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @ ledswinger

      Agreed its a POS, but its my POS now.

      But it's not. It belongs to the energy supplier (or more likely a contracted "Meter Asset Provider"). And that's why I think you'll be seeing at least one more meter replacement in the next three years.

  17. Martin 63

    @ ledswinger

    Rather than keep this to the realms of commentards, an article from you could enlighten us. You really seem to know your stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @ ledswinger

      "an article from you could enlighten us. You really seem to know your stuff."

      I've industry experience across a lot of this field, although I'd be the first to admit that it is hugely complex and I don't know it all by a long way.

      What puts me off writing such an article is that I'm not sure that it hasn't been covered (bit by bit) in other Reg articles and comment forums, and potentially its a lot of work for something that the Reg might then say "we're not publishing that". And, if I'm honest, why put in the work to write a publication grade article if I'm not being paid?

      1. Fred Dibnah

        Re: @ ledswinger

        I bet your real reason is that you know what the Reg commentards are like.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ ledswinger

          I bet your real reason is that you know what the Reg commentards are like.

          I'm probably at the more sociopathic end of the commentard spectrum myself. If I wrote an article, and it got published, I'd come in to the comments section afterwards swinging a broken bottle and a kitchen knife. You'd get me in the end, but I'd take so many of you down with me...

  18. sitta_europea Bronze badge

    They wrote and told me I need a smart gas meter.

    I said "I've got one already." and sent them a photo of it.

    They wrote and told me I need a smart gas meter.

    I said ...

    Oh, never mind.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      You probably have an "idiot" meter.

      One of the smart meters that was tied to a specific supplier, making it considerably worse than useless.

      Of course, they were probably wanting to replace it with a different brand of idiot meter.

  19. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Smart Meters would be cool...

    ... if they could send their values to my MQTT server and only a yearly total to the power company. Perhaps if the local grid company needs it, it could also send it's current power anonymously over the power wires.

    That's something I would pay that money for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart Meters would be cool...

      That's something I would pay that money for.

      In the UK you can elect not to share the smart meter data with your supplier, and for them to only get the minimum for billing. From memory I think that's quarterly totals, although OFGEM's micro-managing obsession with "half-hourly settlement" complicates that. In future you'll still be able to stop suppliers USING your data, but you may not be able to stop them SEEING those half hourly readings.

  20. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Got one

    Bill went up by about a third, which coincides with a Dutch study.

    "Why did you have one then?" you ask.

    Because living in a flat, with smart meters in a common area, means the electricity company just rock up and change everybody's meter at once while everyone's out. And as it's Spain, if you ever told them that you didn't want one, they'd ignore you anyway.

  21. Korev Silver badge
    Boffin

    Top power consumption statistics geekery

    Take a look at Andy Stanford-Clark's webpage for some examples of cool things to do with your house's energy consumption.

    Sadly, I suspect that these meters won't let the British public lay their hands on that level of data.

  22. RyszrdG

    Government and supplier mendacity to the power of n ....

    In actual fact there are no savings to the consumer whatsoever. The con trick is that the cost of the programme is distributed over all consumer bills annually in perpetuity whether or not you have a 'smart' meter; it is in fact an annual increase on average of £420 for each consumer giving suppliers a double bubble benefit of off-loading the cost and reducing headcount. We have been right royally screwed - donkeys all!.

  23. DJO Silver badge

    Wrong application

    For high consumption industrial and commercial users smart meters combined with half-hourly reading condensed into a daily or weekly analysis is immensely useful and can save an absolute fortune in energy costs.

    This does not translate to a low consumption domestic setting. Smart meters are excellent in the right application, under my stairs is not the right application.

  24. Alex Brett

    Saving on meter readers?

    I suppose there's an argument that not having to send people out to get meter readings (because they're coming in via GSM or whatever) should be a cost saving for the energy companies, though the chances of them passing that saving on to their customers rather than their shareholders seems slim...

  25. Lee D Silver badge

    I use electricity because I *want* to use the electricity.

    I don't unnecessarily make my house 4 billion degrees just for the fun of it.

    I don't put the kettle on because I intend to let it go cold and reboil.

    I don't deliberately go out of my way to install the most powerful light bulbs I can find and thereby blind myself.

    I don't leave all the lights in the house on just because I went upstairs once briefly after dusk.

    So what "energy saving" are you going to get from anyone that works on the same principles? Nothing. The energy I pull, I know I pull. There's nothing I can really do about that. It's a choice between "hanging my washing out" or "putting the tumble dryer on for two hours", I don't choose the second just for the fun of it - I'm either CHOOSING to pay for the convenience, or it's the only viable method.

    I sure I could survive with only a candle and a box of matches, but that's not what I go to work for.

    As such, to me, the whole energy saving thing is really one big huge waste of time, money and - ironically - energy.

    1. inmypjs Silver badge

      "So what "energy saving" are you going to get"

      You are supposed to sit and stare at your smart meter (calibrated in dead polar bears) in the cold and dark, because it is your duty to (pretend you are) saving not energy but the planet.

  26. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    And it does'nt matter

    how smart your meter is... since we're all moving to 'lleccy cars and have to rip out most of the underground cables in order that they dont melt down under the load at 3am of 100 cars recharging......

    The only use I have for a smart meter is that they are proof that humans can take a basic problem and come up with some god awful solutions....

  27. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    I have one because ...

    I figure that the cost will be spread over all consumers, so I'll be paying for it whether I have one or not. To make it sound attractive there will be various cost-saving deals that are not available to non-smart meter users. So while I expect my electricity bill will continue to increase rather than diminish, I figured that in all probability it will increase more for people who do not have smart meters.

    Due to the smart meter, I was able to switch to a tariff that gives free electricity from 0900 to 1700 on Saturdays, and the cost per kWh the rest of the time is the same as it was before I got a smart meter. So I try to do all my laundry on Saturdays, and any major cooking, baking & vacuum cleaning. Also I turn off the gas CH and use electric heaters (which I already had) instead. This gives me a small but definite cost saving.

    1. elaar

      Re: I have one because ...

      There was an article a while back, showing that you'd need to do something like 20 wash loads on the weekend to make those "free electricity" weekend deals worth while, otherwise you're better off with one of the many cheaper suppliers.

      It was simply a marketing gimmick.

      If you need to use electric heaters in order to save money, then you know that smart meters aren't a good thing.

      What happens in the winter, with a medium sized house? You would need a total of about 12KW+ worth of electric heaters dotted around the place, a horrible way to heat a home.

      My current suppliers gas price is 20% cheaper than British Gas's, that's about £280 saved.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: I have one because ...

        Tariffs may have changed, but, we used to have a day/night tariff. In theory it made sense. Electricity supply is at a surplus in the dead of night, so making it cheaper then is a win situation. Yes? No, apparently not. Making sure that our really heavy use machines,the dishwasher and washing machine only went on during cheap hours wasn't nearly enough to counter the ridiculously higher day time costs, for the small items that draw current in the day. (usual stuff lights, TVs, Kettle, fish tank, pump for the boiler, computers). Had the day time tariff been closer to normal costings it would have been worthwhile for us and everyone benefits. But no.

    2. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: I have one because ...

      "I figure that the cost will be spread over all consumers, so I'll be paying for it whether I have one or not."

      While I figured I wouldn't have one so other consumers wouldn't have to pay for it - kinda makes you a selfish twat doesn't it.

  28. Tubz

    The only winners with smart meters are the energy companies who over charge, EDMI who are making a killing administering the whole shambles and don't forget MP's who have interests in these companies !

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Privacy

    I don't have a smart meter because I don't want the gas/electric supplier to be able to work out - pretty much exactly - when I'm away at work, when I'm on holiday, etc.

    Partly, it's none of their business. Partly, this information - if hacked, as everything seems to be in the end - could be very interesting to burglars etc.

    ISPs and mobile providers know a lot about us already. But I don't want to add another company to the list (for little benefit).

  30. MR J

    Does the price show the total install cost, or the difference between regular meters and smart ones?

    I have a recalled (Due to risk of explosion and fire!) gas regulator fitted to my meter outside my house and they refuse to replace it stating that it will get replaced once I get my smart meter. So logically that means to me that some of the smart meter cost are also the regular meter cost with some sweetener on top.

    I view it much in the same way that Solar Panels, and the way the Home Car Charge Point Subsidy was made. Every time the Subsidies were driven down, the install cost followed to match. They use regulation to install over the counter proven solutions - with HUGE markups. I think my charge point cost £150, but now that the subsidy has gone UP (Why???) the charge points are now £375 again (exact price of the subsidy!)

    Smart Meters are good I think, because there are too many non-smart consumers out there. I am the only person on my street who reads and reports their own meter data, most people I know let the people who come around do it - for the rest of the time the bill is estimated. I am not sure how much a meter reader cost (14k/year, so 40-50p per house just for wages) but you could now take a reading every month so that saves over £6 per home per year, it also means switching providers "SHOULD" be a breeze.

    Personally I like them, but I think that from top to bottom too many large companies are looking to fleece the gov (ultimately the people) and it just needs to stop until a reliable product at a normal price is out there.

    Another thing that irks me a lot is that I cant actually download the usage from my units, only my provider can do that. So if I want to get a hourly usage chart, I would need to build my own smart meter and that would cost me nearly £35...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I did a brief temp job at the Energy Saving Trust in Scotland. One of the most common complaints we got was the needless rigmarole of having to go through a certified installer in order to qualify for the rebate (as well as shelling out for an inspection before the work to certify that the work was "justified", and another inspection AFTERWARDS to certify that it had been done).

      ODDLY ENOUGH all the certified installers were charging more than bob the plumber down the road, and the price difference was exactly the cost of the maximum allowable rebate - and then the green deal scheme ran out of funding, except now the cost of anyone getting any work done on their house had been inflated by the value of the no-longer-extant green deal schemes.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart customers avoid smart meters.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who remembers the nuclear power promise?

    "electricity so cheap it won't be worth metering"

    LOL

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all about revenue protection.

    That's it. IoT baby.

  34. 0laf Silver badge

    I get little satisfaction from predicting this outcome as soon as smart meters were announced.

    Most people with any sense had already cut their energy usage in response to their increasing bills. So getting a smart meter didn't make much difference. In fact the smart meter probably consumed more power than they could save.

    And if big bills wouldn't make you cut your energy use then a twinkly box on the wall won't either.

    I wonder if anyone has added up the energy use for the construction, fitting and advertising of these meters? I wonder how much you really needed to cur your energy use with not only to get your money back but to recoup the energy deficit.

    A lot of effort to let the energy companies cut jobs. And cut your power.

  35. Tom Paine Silver badge
    FAIL

    I assume...

    ...that huge crashing sound was millions of IT workers' jaws dropping in sheer disbelief that something we all thought was going to be a roaring success has failed to deliver. OH WAIT

  36. wowfood

    I've been 'offered' one of these smart hubs.

    I keep declining. Mostly because my electric meter is hidden behind a wall cupboard in the entry corridor (shared area of 4 flats) and I'd rather not have to foot the bill as they'd need to rip the wall apart to get to it.

  37. Funkymunky

    Dodged the bullet

    My wife arranged a smart meter fitment while I was away on business (crafty cow).

    Luckily, the engineers turned up, looked at our 240yr old house and its ancient meter. They muttered something about the wire to the meter being too short and left...Hooray.

  38. ricardian

    Why not fit fridges & freezers with a device that measures the mains frequency and switches them off if the frequency drops below a particular level?

    http://www.dynamicdemand.co.uk/grid.htm

  39. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    I see a lot of blaming energy companies but I am somehow feeling sorry for them. First the energy generation in this country has been allowed to fall apart as labour opted for monuments to a sky god and solar panels instead of power generators. They compounded the problem when Blair offered to half our co2 output (instead of halve it in one area of production against advice) and of course their capitulating to the green nutters who opposed nuclear.

    All of that pushes up the cost of power generation and then the power companies get the blame for political stupidity. As far as I am aware the energy companies didnt want smart meters, it was the gov for another tax funded blowout.

    We can easily fix the energy production problem. We can easily fix the cost of energy problem. We have plenty of experience over a large portion of the planet to do this. But it requires honesty and political will to admit the failures and wasted money before deciding how we want to proceed.

  40. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Genuinely struggling to understand why the strong feelings...

    I've read four pages of comments, and the article, and I'm still not sure I get why the hatred for these is so vociferous. There are whole websites dedicated to people hating smart meters and 200 comments here that pretty much say the same thing: smart meters are 100% bad.

    To sum up what I've got from these pages, people don't like smart meters because:

    1. It probably won't save them any money - so they're no better off, but no worse off.

    2. It may make the energy company more money - ok, they're 90% fuckers but as this won't cost me anything, good luck to them.

    3. They may be turned off remotely deliberately. I thought I'd read that this feature was proposed but discarded due to concerns over liability (if they disconnect a dialysis machine, for example) - can't seem to find this now, but I have found an Ofgem Guidance Document outlining the process for disconnection, which is broadly the same as the current process except that they don't need to make a house call with two polcemen and boltcutters.

    4. They may be turned off remotely accidentally - true, but we already live with this risk and call it a "power cut". Getting it turned back on will be a phone call.

    5. The meter itself is shit and overpriced - this one I can understand but only on the grounds of "it could be better". I'm offended technically, but not surprised.

    6. The meters get it wrong sometimes. First, that's no different to current meters - after reading my dual-tariff meter recently EDF tried to charge me several thousand pounds for the kinds of usage that would have melted the copper in my house. Utility company incompetence exists now and will continue unabated long after we all have smart meters. But smart meters can fix this with software, and the metering hardware, if anything should be more accurate, no? Modern technology and all that.

    7. Smart meters give you cancer - ok, haven't seen that one on the Reg, but have seen it elsewhere.

    8. They allow the energy company to know when you're using power to spy on you - true, but I'm struggling to care.

    9. The might be hacked. Theoretically true, but many orders of magnitude less likely than anything else in the house being hacked for most consumers, and to what end? So someone can read your meter? This risk seems very low.

    10. It's a one-off disruption to install - irrelevant in the long term.

    11. The meters themselves use power so it's wasteful - OK, but at 4W a meter plus a bit more for the hub (which I believe is optional) it's not exactly going to single-handedly ruin the environment. More data centers being built to process this data is a bit spurious - if we're concerned about this, surely we'd be better off with a single monopoly and one large datacenter?

    As for benefits - at a minimum:

    1. It stops the nagging calls and knocks on door asking for meter reads, and it saves me banging my head on the hatch to my basement every few months.

    2. It also removes the "estimated bill" boondoggle, which always seems to involved the utility taking £400 extra up front then paying it back to me when I close the account.

    3. Assuming software bugs are fixed, it should be more accurate and less error prone.

    The beef I understand most is that it's a wasted opportunity because they could be better technically, and that it's a typical government IT cockup: overpriced and poorly managed. True, but even with that I'm struggling to find more than a "meh" as an argument against (or for) smart meters. What have I missed?

    1. Fading Silver badge

      Re: Genuinely struggling to understand why the strong feelings...

      The security issue isn't just about an individual smart meter being hacked. The remote monitoring by nefarious agencies (being able to tell when people are in or out) - the ability to remotely switch off and on large areas of domestic power (doesn't take much to cause massive instability to the grid) - there are so few gains and much increased risk.

      My current meters are all external and to avoid "estimated" bills I can fill in my meter readings online when I want to - hence there is no advantage to me in having "smart" meters. No advantage plus increased risk = no thanks.

  41. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

    Quelle surprise

    Why is this always a surprise to the people who comission that kind of bollocks scheme when it's absolutely predictable for all the rest of us who actually have a clue?

    Or have I answered my own question?

  42. johnarudkin.net

    Had my 'Smart Meter' installed last year then - as the price of the supplier increased dramatically, took the advice to change. I now have a useless meter...but at least it can display the current meter readings...

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why should 'smart meters' cost anything?

    The point of a smart meter is that they can be read remotely saving the electricity companies money. The rest of it is just spin.

    The cost of the electronics itself is or should be very low due to the scale of production. The major cost is therefore the installation cost which has to be balanced against the cost savings. This is all labour costs in the hands of the electricity company itself. It can invest in smart meters to reduce long term costs or it can not depending on whether it makes economic sense. If it takes more than 10 years to pay back then it doesn't makes sense to do it at all. There is no need for government involvement and if it makes sense it should not cost the consumer anything.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019