Scottish Hydro customers in Alyth, Perthshire, are learning exactly how much it costs to take a shower in the early morning versus the price of energy to take an evening bath. Energy consumers there are able to make an informed decision comparing the costs of showering in the morning as opposed to bathing in the evening and can adjust their habits accordingly. Residents of Alyth hope to reduce energy consumption there by 10 percent within the next two years. It’s all the culmination of a strategy from Scottish Hydro. Technicians from the power company have begun installing smart meters there that are based on cutting-edge technology that aims to help consumers conserve energy, save money on electric and gas bills, and reduce carbon emissions to the environment.
The smart meter installation in Alyth could serve as a trial run for installing smart meters in all of Scotland in the near future. Once the devices are installed, homeowners are able to keep track of the cost of electricity and gas and the amounts used in real time. As the devices become commonplace across Scotland, a real reduction in carbon emissions is attainable.
Where old, traditional utility meters only monitor electric consumption in terms of kilowatt hours and depend on a meter reader to estimate usage once a month; smart meters display current utility usage in terms of pounds and pence.
Smart meters are installed within a smart power grid, or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). AMI creates a two-way communications network between consumer and utility company. The information that a customer is able to read on the smart meter is also relayed back to Scottish Hydro who will be able to create a precise, accurate bill for energy consumption. Previously, meter readers are only able to estimate monthly usage when compiling their monthly readings of old utility meters.
According to Ian Marchant, CEO of Scottish and Southern Energy, the parent company of Scottish Hydro, every household in Scotland could have a smart meter installed within the next decade. Marchant said, “Ongoing investment in green energy needs to be balanced with the development of new technology that gives customers practical help to reduce their energy consumption.”
Marchant explains further, “Our groundbreaking partnership with Alyth is already showing that energy companies can find innovative ways to help customers reduce their energy use. Smart meters are a clear example of this.”
As of this writing, only two smart meters have been installed in Alyth; however 360 of the devices will be installed throughout the town by the end of February. Over the next two years the project will be extended with an additional 2400 smart meters installed within homes all around Tayside.
Alyth Environmental Group is spearheading the effort to create a “climate action” initiative to encourage more environmentally-conscious lifestyles. The group has expressed a lot of support for the Scottish Hydro smart meter project. According to Clive Bowman, chairman of the group, “there is real enthusiasm for the whole project.”
Justin Smith, representing Scottish Hydro, said, “We have already found from tests we have done that if you understand better how much energy you are using and how much it is costing you, then you are encouraged to try to find ways of reducing the amount of electricity and gas you are using.”