New meters can knock €160 off smart consumers' energy bills
HOUSEHOLDERS could knock €160 off their annual energy bills -- but only if they make radical changes in how they use gas and electricity.
New smart meters to be installed in every home in the State will show customers how much it costs to run domestic appliances at certain times of the day, and allow them to make adjustments.
Electricity is most expensive to consume during the evening peak of 5pm to 7pm, when people return home from work and boil kettles, cook their dinner, turn on TVs and use power-hungry appliances such as washing machines and tumble dryers.
But by avoiding use of appliances that use a lot of energy until other times of the day, huge savings can be made.
The Commission for Energy Regulation said yesterday that pilot studies on the use of smart meters showed that average savings of 2.5pc for electricity and 2.9pc for gas were achieved by 6,200 homes and businesses that tried out the new technology.
However, some homeowners who made radical changes made savings of up to 10pc on electricity bills -- or €80 a year -- with similar savings on gas.
A CER spokesman said it expected savings of at least €20 per household, but that this was a "conservative" figure.
"Based on the trials, you're looking at a €20 net saving per year for electricity customers, and a €20 saving for gas, taking into account the cost of installing the meters.
"That's based on average bills of about €800 a year, but higher savings have been made," he said.
Work on installing the meters will begin in 2015 and 2.2 million homes and 600,000 businesses will be upgraded within four years.
They will cost €1bn to install, but will yield savings of more than €220m over 20 years. The cost of rolling out the programme will be repaid over time through utility bills.
Ireland is among the first countries in the world to roll-out smart meters, with only Sweden, Italy and Finland having similar systems in place.
However, unlike those countries, all homes here will be fitted with a display unit which allows people to see their energy consumption in real time.
The new meters will store consumption patterns, meaning that daily use can be broken down into 30-minute periods.
This allows companies to issue detailed bills setting out the times when most power is used.
Ireland is also signed up to international agreements to reduce energy use to help combat climate change, and smart meters will help achieve these targets.
The supplier can also reduce costs because they will no longer have to send people out to read meters, meaning bills should fall.