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Have you got a question about smart meters? Post your questions to Paul Nickson, Commercial Director of British Gas Smart Metering and you'll be entered into a draw to win £100 voucher for John Lewis - ANSWERS BACK

(75 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 19-Sep-13 09:20:11

Paul Nickson MBE is going to be on-hand this week to answer questions about smart meters, whether its about how they work or what you can expect on the day of installation. Post your questions to Paul before midday on Wednesday 25th September and you'll be entered into a draw to win £100 voucher for John Lewis. We'll upload his answers on 2nd October.

Paul Nickson is the Commercial Director of British Gas Smart Metering and joined the company earlier this year. His focus within British Gas is to make customers aware of the smart meter roll-out, the benefits of smart meters and how they can get the best out of being a smart meter customer. Paul says: I believe that smart meters represent a tangible opportunity to make energy simpler for our customers as they bring the benefit of insight into gas and electricity as well as eliminating the need for manual meter readings. Im looking forward to answering your questions so that youre aware of what smart meters represent for our energy future. The upside for me is that Ill learn more about what matters to you in the context of this program and your top questions or doubts.

This Q&A is sponsored by British Gas

PigletJohn Fri 20-Sep-13 21:11:01

Is it true that a smart meter enables a supplier to turn off a customer's supply as and when they consider it necessary?

How can I prevent you installing a smart meter in my house?

Suddengeekgirl Sat 21-Sep-13 10:59:51

What are they?

What are the benefits to me?

What is the cost to me?

Can you tell I know nothing about smart meters?

Bergamont Sun 22-Sep-13 02:03:12

Hi Paul,
Can you explain how a smart meter will save me money? And can I still switch suppliers when one is installed?


KarenRChenard Mon 23-Sep-13 01:37:02

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

everydayineveryway Mon 23-Sep-13 01:43:23

What research has been done into the harmful effects of emissions from Smart Meters? Please link to it.

Has a fund been set aside to compensate people who have negative health effects from Smart Meters, if it is proven in the future that they adversely affect customers' health?

DorothyBastard Mon 23-Sep-13 04:28:47

Do you have a schedule for roll out, or can I choose when to have them installed?

SuperiorCat Mon 23-Sep-13 06:27:18

Aren't smart meters just about savings for the provider?
Will the money you save by sacking the meter readers be used to reduce our bills? I'm guessing not...

LovesBeingOnHoliday Mon 23-Sep-13 14:54:01

I am scared of smart meters; what if I couldn't pay on time; what if you made a mistake; what if there was a dispute?

ShatnersBassoon Mon 23-Sep-13 15:01:06

Is it really cheaper to install these new meters than to keep the meter readers employed? It sounds unlikely.

LindySfarne Mon 23-Sep-13 15:03:13

Could uyou tell us please whether the data collected will be passed on or sold to government depts or private companies?

It feels like nothing we do is private any more.

Spirael Mon 23-Sep-13 15:40:23

Given that meter boxes are not completely sealed and are sometimes located in stupid positions at ground level, what will happen if the electronics of the smart meter are damaged by damp/frost? Will the meter shut down and stop providing gas/electricity to the property?

When we first moved in to our property it had a card gas meter which had gotten damp/frozen and stopped working. Until the meter was replaced, we had no gas supply - so no heating or hot water - for over 24 hours in the middle of winter!

If/when smart meters become more commonplace, will there be a 24 hour support line available to help in such circumstances? Currently the normal support lines close at 8pm and the emergency provision don't want to know unless there's a gas leak!

Tianc Mon 23-Sep-13 15:44:41

Link to previous threads about Smart Meters:

Anyone having a gas/leccy meter replaced with a Smart Meter? Something you need to know

NOW CLOSED Fancy seeing if you and your family could save energy? Sign up to try smart meters from British Gas - £100 for taking part!

Second thread includes the Dept of Energy & Climate Change's list of "benefits" of Smart Metering, listed below.

Table 2 – Impact assessment benefits
Consumer Benefits
Energy savings
Load shifting
Customer Switching
Time-of-use tariffs
CO2 reduction

Supplier Benefits
Avoided meter reading
Inbound enquiries
Customer service overheads
Debt handling
Avoided prepayment costs (domestic only)
Remote disconnection
Avoided site visit

Other Benefits
Reduced losses
Reduced theft

More explanation on that thread, but as you may have noticed, most of the things on that list are not actually benefits of Smart Meters to the consumer. Even the "energy savings" bit actually just means us, the consumers, deciding to use less power.

SuperiorCat Mon 23-Sep-13 16:00:06

YY Tianc - a smart meter won't save energy / money. Reeling from the shock of the cost of your gas will make you turn down the thermometer, and THAT is what will save you money.

Same benefit can be obtained by using a small energy monitor....I'm yet to be convinced that there are any benefits to the end consumer, so will wait for the good Mr Nickson to enlighten us on them if he can

Tianc Mon 23-Sep-13 16:01:29

For anyone who knows nothing about Smart Meters, you really need to read the stuff about Time-of-Use Tariffs (putting prices up in the evening when you're trying to cook: the plan is you'll switch your fridge off to compensate) and what they'll be doing with your data (recorded at intervals of 30 mins or less and given to 3rd parties - so they can help you switch your fridge off).

Tianc Mon 23-Sep-13 16:51:06

<sigh> It's not particularly encouraging that, in his mere three sentences in the OP, the British Gas bloke has already said something untrue. (Or deluded, but I'll credit him with more intelligence than that.)

He starts with "I believe that smart meters represent a tangible opportunity to make energy simpler for our customers"

Er, hardly.

What I have at the moment is simple:

I press a switch

the toaster comes on

all day, every day, for the same price.

Smart Meters (as part of the Smart Grid) are intended to introduce massive complexity: different prices at different times on different days; apps to turn this socket off and that socket on; remote control by text so the spouse at work can turn down the SAHP's heating.

Smart Meters and the Smart Grid can be described in many ways, but "simple" isn't one of them.

Madamecastafiore Mon 23-Sep-13 17:13:25

Hacked off that I can't have one. Got chosen for the trial but then told we don't get our gas and electric from their popes so we are not eligible although pay British Gas for both!!

SuperiorCat Mon 23-Sep-13 17:34:54

Tianc that is really sinister, I'm glad you have highlighted that for those who may otherwise be oblivious like myself.

DH works in the industry and he refuses to have one.

dahville Mon 23-Sep-13 18:28:09

What information, besides usage for billing purposes, will smart meters be gathering?

rootypig Mon 23-Sep-13 18:33:01

Hey Paul, how are we supposed to believe that energy companies have our best interests at heart when pricing is so opaque, companies delight in confusing customers, customer service is generally appalling, and prices so high? As Tianc points out, it's not clear that smart meters represent much of a break from these venerable traditions.

Most people I know absolutely dread their gas bill, because they know it will be a nasty shock. So do smart meters give the customer a good grasp of what they're paying for energy and when, and where the costs lie in terms of energy use in their home? eg heat vs hot water, tumble dryer vs fridge. if not, you've failed.

PenguinBear Mon 23-Sep-13 19:01:54

Hi Paul, I love my smart meter. We had it installed a few weeks ago and it is certainly saving me money. What I love the most is how you can see exactly how much you are using at any one time. This has really helped us to illustrate to the children how important it is to switch lights off and how everything we turn off reduces what we are using!
I like tracking how much I have spent in a day and what percentage I have used that day. I also like the coloured lights at the too which change with the useage. So far mine has been green and sometimes amber. How much would I need to be using to turn the light red?

Wondered what extra advice you have to help reduce spending on electricity and what else I could be using my smart meter for?

Many thanks smile

MadeOfStarDust Mon 23-Sep-13 19:30:01

We have not heard enough about the micro management of power use through the smart meter - I heard on TV that they will be able to turn off your fridge etc for very short periods in order to reduce or even out power use at peak times - during ad breaks in big sporting events for instance - who pays for all the broken fridges...

Meglet Mon 23-Sep-13 19:41:46

Seeing as I have been able to monitor, and reduce, my energy use with a meter available free from the library, and by taking my readings every month, what is the point in installing a smart meter? They sound very sinister IMO. Just another way for big business to make bigger profits.

TensionWheelsCoolHeels Mon 23-Sep-13 20:49:42

Tianc, thanks for posting about this again. I think I read your other thread a while ago, and was determined to not get a smart meter as a result. I've been trying to remember the reasons, and now I do. Will be passing this onto others too.

magnumicelolly Mon 23-Sep-13 21:16:30

Why don't you just not bother giving everyone a smart meter, and use the money saved to cut our bills?

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