Making Cents: Will an electricity smart meter save me lots of money? 

Smart meters are being installed across the country, but how much cash do we stand to save by installing one in our homes?
Making Cents: Will an electricity smart meter save me lots of money? 

A major upgrade of electricity meters in Ireland has been underway since 2019 and, as the number of smart meters installed reaches almost a quarter of a million, packages tailored for the new meters are becoming available in the Irish market.

The smart meters are currently being installed across the country by ESB Networks and there are already 248,397 smart meter installations in Ireland, with 8,783 installed in January alone. By 2024, all 2.3 million existing meters in Ireland will be upgraded, with approximately 500,000 meters to be installed each year in order to reach the 2.3 million targets.

So what does this mean for households with the new meters?

As the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) points out, existing electricity meters are manually read by ESB Networks up to four times per year. Smart meters are able to record consumption more frequently and automatically send meter readings to ESB Networks.

“This means estimated bills will be a thing of the past,” the CRU says. “You will have access to more information allowing you to manage your electricity usage and make more informed choices.” 

Bord Gáis Energy is one of the energy companies offering tailored smart energy plans, and Colin Bebbington, Retail Director of Bord Gáis Energy, says the plans and more detailed billing information will help consumers manage their energy usage and costs.

“Energy users can decide when and how often they receive their electricity bills, and a payment day that suits best,” he says. “Through Bord Gáis Energy’s new smart bill, customers will be provided with key information upfront, a graph comparing their energy usage year-on-year, and helpful hints and tips to help them manage their electricity use.

“This will result in reduced energy usage which means householders will be lowering their carbon footprint and doing their bit to help the environment.

“The roll-out of smart meters in Ireland offers Irish householders access to more timely, detailed information of their energy usage; and with so many people working from home right now, improving energy efficiency is high on the agenda.” 

So can consumers expect to save money by use of smart meters and if so, by how much?

“According to the (CRU, early smart meter trials showed that households were able to reduce their consumption by up to 2.5% on average, with some families reducing their energy consumption by up to 9% during peak times,” Mr Bennington says. “This means real savings for households across the country.” 

The Bord Gáis Energy smart plans include a choice of either 'Free Time Saturday’ or ‘Free Time Sunday’ offers, giving customers free electricity between 9am and 5pm on their specified day at weekends. 

Additionally, Bord Gáis Energy will be making a ‘Discount Weekend Plan’ available too, which gives customers a night rate all weekend, meaning lower energy costs from 11pm on Friday, right through to 8am on Monday.

“By offering different energy prices for different times, we’re giving customers more power and choice around their energy usage that suits their lifestyles,” Mr Bebbington says.

Other providers are also offering options for homes with smart meters. Electric Ireland customers who have a Smart Meter can now avail of four new customer-focused Home Electric+ price plans and Pinergy recently launched new plans including a “Work from Home” plan, a “Family Time” plan and a “Drive Time” plan for those families looking to charge their electric vehicles (EVs) overnight.

As with a standard meter, consumers with a smart meter are free to switch between energy providers at any time depending on their contract and the CRU says the new meters will make choices clearer and changing more straightforward. 

“Smart meters will make the supplier switching process easier and empower consumers to make a more informed choice for their energy needs,” the regulator says. “Smart metering will also enable the development of the smart grid and facilitate more flexible, reliable and better network planning.” 

Deal of the week

Three Ireland have announced new three-month offer for Prime Video, Amazon Music Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited, and Cafeyn. 

Three Ireland customers can now claim three months of Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music Unlimited and Kindle Unlimited at no, on Three. They will enjoy movies, TV shows, over 70 million songs ad-free with Amazon Music Unlimited, and millions of titles, thousands of audiobooks and selected magazine subscriptions with Kindle Unlimited.

Additionally, customers can also subscribe to Cafeyn (www.cafeyn.co) for three months for the low cost of just €0.99 per month and get unlimited access to thousands of their favourite magazines and newspapers on their mobile.

From today, all Bill Pay, Prepay, as well as Broadband Bill Pay customers can avail the three month offers for Prime Video, Amazon Music Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited, and Cafeyn on three. 

After three months customers will then revert to the standard RRP. All subscriptions can be paid through Bill Pay or Prepay credit.

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