‘With rising bills we wanted to see what we were paying, so our smart meter has been great’: One woman on how her family is taking control of their budgets

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With energy bills rising in Britain, having a smart meter installed in her home has helped Chelmsford mum Sarah to keep tabs on her bills – and save money.

Sarah who lives with her two children, aged 16 and six, says: ‘With the way things are, I can’t afford a quarterly bill: along with the price of everything else, it would be too much.

‘So I’m on pay-as-you-go, and the smart meter is really good, because I know exactly what I’ve used.

‘When I’m running low, I know when to top it up. I can see how much I use when I turn on the tumble dryer, it’s just there, you can always see what’s going on.

As the cost of living rises many of us, including Sarah, pictured, are having to juggle finances

Sarah, 42, who works in a retirement home near her house, says that she wanted to get a smart meter so she could stop going out to check on the electric meter.

She says: ‘I wanted to see what I was spending on energy – and I’ve now got the smart meter in the kitchen, so I see it all the time.’

‘I’ve got the smart meter app on my phone as well, so I know we’re not going to go into my emergency credit.  

‘It’s very useful, being able to top up directly in the app. I do it that way all the time now. When it’s raining it means that I don’t have to walk down to the shops to top up!’

Sarah says that as the weather has warmed up, the information from the smart meter has helped her make decisions such as leaving the tumble dryer off, and hanging clothes outside instead.

Every household in Britain is being offered a smart meter at no extra cost.

‘It saves money as the heating isn’t on’

On April 1, the energy price cap increased for 22million customers. Some people’s bills increased by as much as £693 per year.

Research by Smart Energy GB found that three-quarters (73%) of British people have already tried to change the way they use energy – with one in four (28%) saying they no longer feel in control of household budgets.

Smart meters can help you keep track of energy use, making you more aware of what you use

Having a smart meter installed makes keeping track of energy use easy, with an in-home display showing usage in pounds and pence. 

For Sarah, the smart meter has changed the way she thinks about her energy use and made her more conscious of how much some appliances cost, particularly the tumble dryer and the heating.

Sarah says: ‘It helps me to understand how we use electricity over the week – and how that changes at the weekend.

‘I think carefully about when I use the washing machine and the tumble dryer, and I make sure that things like the lights in the toilet aren’t on.

‘At night, I often go upstairs with my little one and we lie in bed with the electric blanket, which means we can switch everything off in the other rooms.’

The research found that many Britons (32%) had fallen for myths such as the idea that hand washing dishes is more economical than using a dishwasher (it isn’t, it requires more energy and can also use up to nine times as much water).

But smart meters offer a clear way to keep track of energy use, Smart Energy GB’s research found.

More than half (54%) of smart meter users polled in the nationwide survey of 5,000 people believe that having one installed has helped them to understand their energy use better – and 47% feel more in control of their energy use.

CountryFile presenter Helen Skelton, who co-authored Smart Energy GB’s Super Smart Energy Savers Report said: ‘It’s worrying to feel that the cost of your energy bill is completely out of your control, but unfortunately the price cap increase means that this is now the case for so many people across the UK.

TV presenter Helen Skelton co-authored Smart Energy’s report, which revealed how many of us still find understanding energy usage confusing

‘People need tangible, long-term solutions. Whilst there are elements of the cost-of-living crisis we can’t control, taking steps like getting a smart meter to monitor energy use and being mindful of how long your devices are on for can go some way to helping Brits feel more equipped and in control of their household budgets.’

‘My Mum’s got one, my cousin’s got one’

Sarah says she recommends getting a smart meter to everyone in her life – so they can keep tabs on consumption.

‘I’ve got my Mum to get one, my cousin’s got one – I’ve recommended them to everyone,’ Sarah says.

‘It’s just so helpful to be able to see your energy use in pounds and pence.

‘My Mum’s on monthly bills, but she’s found it extremely helpful. Now obviously the prices of everything has gone up, she can really monitor what’s going on.’

Sarah says she’s hopeful that her children will start to take an interest too – although they don’t always do so.

She says: ‘I’ll go on and on, ‘Turn the lights off, turn the telly off.’ Sadly, they don’t always listen.

‘But sometimes they do get it, and they think: , ‘Oh God, Mum’s gonna have a go at me again – I’d better turn that off!’

Join the energy revolution. Search ‘Get a smart meter’

Energy-saving tips that really work

Smart Energy GB worked with money-saving experts Money Magpie, Helen Skelton and Dominic Littlewood on the Super Smart Energy Savers Report offering tips on how to save energy that really work.

Don’t keep your heating on constantly

Ensure you only have your heating on when you need it by using a timer.

Don’t heat empty rooms

Don’t be afraid to turn individual radiators off – if you’re heating a room where no family members are, you are wasting energy and money.

Get a smart meter

Smart meters are a great way to keep track of the energy you are using in near-real time and in pounds and pence, giving you more control over your energy use.

Check your draught proofing

Lots of properties lose heat during the day: ensuring that insulation and draught proofing are well-maintained is one of the best ways to cut your energy use.

Close your curtains

Closing your curtains or blinds will keep your house cooler in warm weather and keep the heat in when winter comes around.

Most people who had a smart meter installed found it helped them change their energy use, a poll found



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