Are you looking to save money on your gas or electricity bill?
For small and medium-sized business owners, every penny counts. For this reason, it’s important to find ways to save money where you can. With non-domestic electricity prices increasing 6.5% from 2019 to 2020, utilities are an area with potential for significant savings.
That’s where smart meters come into play. Smart meters have a number of benefits for businesses, which can cut overheads and improve efficiency. Here, we’ve gathered our top six smart meter benefits, and explained how to best take advantage of these benefits to help your small business save money.
Typically, gas and electricity are monitored by a meter, which keeps track of the amount of gas or electricity you use every billing period. The tracked amount is then transmitted to your supplier to ensure you are billed correctly. Standard meters only track on the meter itself, so a utility worker would have to come to your premises to read the output, or you would have to send in the meter read numbers to your supplier yourself.
A smart meter does the same thing that standard meters do as far as recording utility usage. However, the main difference is that they are entirely electronic.
The data that the smart meter collects is transmitted over secure wireless networks to a central system that your utility supplier can access, which provides valuable communication with no extra effort on your behalf. This means that your utility supplier always has access to the most up-to-date data, and you can always see exactly what you have spent.
Now, let's dive deeper into 6 ways how smart meters can save money for you and your business.
When your business is fitted with a smart meter, one of the key benefits is that you will not need to send in readings yourself. This meter continually sends data about your energy usage to the energy company.
For instance, with a standard meter, you may need to provide your supplier with manual readings every month. Compare that to a smart meter, which automatically submits regular readings to your provider. As a result, you'll be able to track your energy usage much more accurately, with no extra effort on your behalf.
This can also be beneficial in ensuring that you do not overpay for your energy, since estimated bills are eliminated. With a smart meter, you can log on to your energy supplier’s portal or app to see how much gas or electricity you have been using by each meter point.
You will no longer have to base your monthly overhead on estimates, as with a smart meter you will know exactly how much you are spending each month. Therefore, this can allow you to plan out your expenditure and budget far more accurately.
A smart meter, as mentioned, keeps track of your usage, which is useful if you're too busy to send in meter readings yourself, or don’t want the hassle of waiting for a meter worker to come out and tell you what the meter says. The data that you're shown via the smart meter will provide you with the information you need to ensure you can cut energy usage in some areas.
For example, depending on your type of tariff, gas or electricity charges could change depending on the time that the energy is being used. The improved data that you receive from smart meters makes it easier to see when you're using the most energy, and whether that's during on- or off-peak times. This way, you can make slight adjustments that will reduce energy usage during peak hours and help drive your overhead costs down. For example, you could reduce your peak demand electricity usage by running equipment where possible during off-peak times.
However, even if your energy tariff doesn’t change depending on the time of day, this improved information can still help your business save money. For example, you can still work to reduce your demand by conserving energy throughout the day in various ways, such as through ensuring electronics and equipment is turned off when not in use, or through buying energy-efficient equipment.
No matter what type of tariff you’re on, the information provided by smart meters can help you keep track of your usage, which ultimately could reduce your energy consumption, and save money.
As we mentioned above, smart meters allow you to see how much energy you're using in near real-time.
When you're able to see exactly how much energy you're using in relation to the tasks you're doing in your business, it can help you be more conscious of when you're consuming more gas and/or electricity.
In fact, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) found that small businesses will see significant benefits from the smart-meter rollout, such as the estimated £1.5bn realised through energy consumption reductions 2013-2034.
This makes it easier to make behavioural and operational adjustments within your business that could help drive your overheads down.
Once you've seen your company's utility consumption throughout the day, you could then create some new behavioural changes within.
For example, you can encourage your employees to turn off their computers instead of leaving them on during lunch. Or you can ask them to turn off the light when leaving an area with no one else left.
Smart meters allow you to see if these behavioural changes have a significant impact as you can measure the success with data. If not, you can keep testing and tweaking company behaviours until you're happy with your cost-savings.
Similarly, the granular detail of smart meters enables consumers to pinpoint almost exactly which piece of equipment is using up how much energy. It can also help you pair energy consumption with specific business processes.
Again, like with behavioural changes, you can test and tweak changes to your business processes. For example, you can experiment with different power settings or even temperature settings for your equipment to see what difference, if any, it makes to your overall usage.
You can also alter protocol for equipment usage, or try alternative pieces of tech to see if you can drive costs down. The former costs very little (or nothing at all) to implement, so it's a fantastic way to improve business processes.
If you have a budget that allocates a certain amount toward utilities, smart meters can help you stay within that amount. Rampant energy usage could negatively impact your budget, so the more control you have, the better.
Considering you can see how much energy you're using at any time, this allows you have complete management over your spending.
As well as this, smart meters have the ability to sync up with energy usage apps. So, if your energy supplier has an app, you’re able to set budgets and reminders, which can make budgeting and energy management even simpler.
When running your own business, there’s a number of things that you have to manage, and keeping an eye on your utilities can be time-consuming and take you away from your business’ needs.
However, with a smart meter, you no longer need to check meter readings or compare estimates to actual readings. The smart meter does all of that for you.
You are also saved the hassle of going through your bills and accounts looking for better ways to save money. Your smart meter records all the information about your usage and spend and allows you to access it easily through an online portal or app. All the information you need is right at your fingertips.
That means you can save time for what really matters – you and your business.
Some SMEs have multiple sites, which can make it difficult to manage spending across them all. This is especially true if you have variations between operation hours, equipment, and more.
But with smart meters, you can create a more uniform business plan and lower spending across all sites. For example, you can use the site with the lowest spending as a benchmark for your other ones.
In fact, research conducted by the Department for Business, (BEIS) highlights evidence of non-domestic energy consumption reduction, such as a restaurant chain reporting a 6% reduction in energy use over 12 months across all of their restaurants.
By having reference data and concrete numbers in front of you, you'll have full confidence knowing you can reduce utility costs by modelling all sites after the one with the lowest bills. You can replace both processes and equipment for better efficiency.
But remember, smart meters don’t save you money just by installing them. They only provide you the real-time data and tools you need to save money. You need to take this information and use it to reduce your electricity usage and spend.
With almost half of UK consumers seeking more eco-friendly products, every business should be striving to be as environmentally conscious as they can. But it is sometimes difficult to get buy-in from your staff. Smart meters allow you to show the impact of little changes to your staff and get them on board. It also gives you the hard numbers about savings, in case you need to think of cost-effective ways to incentivise behaviour changes.
So, don’t expect the savings to come immediately. It takes time to foster a culture of responsible energy use within a business. But once you have done so, the cost savings could speak for themselves.
So, how do smart meters save money? By sending real time data to your utility company, smart meters ensure accurate billing and give you a better picture of your company’s energy usage. They also provide you with all the information you need to improve efficiency, make savings and foster an energy conscious environment at work. And with smart meter installation at no extra charge, they are a great way to reduce energy usage and save money without increasing costs.
At Valda Energy, we are dedicated to helping our SME customers take control of their energy usage. Our free smart meter installation means you can have complete control over your energy consumption and spend, and our tailored Valda Energy app allows you to access your energy-use data round the clock, as well as give you all the tools to make energy management much simpler.