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Universities highlight smart meters problems

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The UK government wants a smart meter in every household by 2020 with the aim of reducing national household energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent and to help it meet its climate-change commitments.

However, almost a year after the start of the Smart Meter Implementation Programme (SMIP) energy providers had only managed to install the meters in 7 percent of homes. The problem is that the meters being installed are not up to the job and are not providing information consumers can work with, the University of Bath argues. Where the meters are installed consumers are not engaged and are not using them to reduce energy consumption, according to reports.

The researchers at Bath have developed an alternative smarter meter, called iBert, that has deployed with numerous sensors and trialled it in 47 homes. On average homes using the iBert smarter meter achieved a 22 percent saving in gas consumption.

Current smart meters or in-home displays (IHD) only report energy consumption data in kilowatt-hours or monetary terms. What they do not do is provide personalized advice as to where in the home energy is being consumed or where consumption could be cut. On top of this, in some cases, the readings are inaccurate or inflated, the University of Bath said.

As a result, critics say the main beneficiaries of the government program are the energy vendors through reduced meter reading costs. This brings into question the idea of spending £11 billion on the technology.

Next: iBert is better


The iBert smart meter and its network of sensors allows the meter draw conclusions about what the building is made of and how it is being used such as losing heat through open windows, heating the house while it is unoccupied or leaving televisions on standby.

“Current smart meters are being rolled out across the country at a cost of a staggering £11 billion but, through design, are limited in their ability to help reduce energy consumption,” said David Coley, Professor of Low Carbon Design in the University of Bath’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

The residential energy sector accounts for 23 percent of total energy consumption worldwide, placing it third after industry (37 percent) and transportation (28 percent). In the UK, residential energy consumption represents 29 percent of total energy use.

Related links and articles:

www.bath.ac.uk

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