Smart meters reduce business costs and carbon

Business man on laptop reviewing business costs

Smart meters are key to Britain becoming carbon neutral by 2050

In 2008 the Climate Change Act was passed. Not only did this commit the UK to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), it was the first global legally binding climate change mitigation target set by any country. Fast forward to 2019 and the target is made even more ambitious when the UK pledged to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the same date. Faced with such a huge undertaking, it’s no surprise that everyone will need to play their part to get the job done. What may be surprising is the pivotal role being played by such a relatively modest piece of technology. Yet the fact remains, smart meters for business help monitor energy use and are key to upgrading our outdated energy system.

Installing smart meters could help you save on your business energy bills, while slashing countrywide carbon emissions by 45 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 26 million cars off the road for a year [1].


The roll-out of smart meters 

The UK government’s aim is to provide all homes and businesses with a next generation smart meter designed to better monitor and control energy consumption – and ultimately – to facilitate more efficient energy use. The smart meter roll-out is now one of the largest national programmes currently underway with more than 21.5 million smart meters already installed in British homes and businesses [1]. British Gas alone has installed more than 8 million smart meters in homes and business nationwide. But there’s still a way to go.

Before coronavirus hit and the UK was plunged into its first national lockdown, around 19,000 smart meters were installed every day [1]. Almost overnight, following public health advice, smart meter installations quickly fell as energy suppliers prioritised essential and emergency work, putting customer safety first. Yet for those businesses still to upgrade, the benefits offered by a smart meter installation couldn’t come at a better time.

Faced with ongoing disruption and financial uncertainty due to the pandemic, many businesses are looking to reduce costs where they can. Business energy is one opportunity to do exactly that. In fact, according to The Carbon Trust, a 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales for many businesses [2]. And that’s where smart meters can really help.


Smart meters are the first step to lower energy bills

For many businesses the barrier to lower energy bills is nothing to do with a lack of interest in saving energy or having a low appetite for long-term sustainability. The problem is a lack of insight. Businesses struggle to understand their own energy use, and without that understanding, it’s difficult to see where the biggest energy-saving opportunities lie. Smart meters give businesses this vital information and provide a solid foundation to get started on an energy-saving journey. Research shows that 4 out of 5 people with a smart meter say it gives them a better idea of their energy costs and 9 in 10 are satisfied with the installation process [1].


Quick wins and long-term gains

Smart meters work by providing near to real-time information about your energy use. Armed with this information, as well as a breakdown of daily and monthly costs, businesses are in a better position to spot the activities that cost the most and take action to save money – whether that’s making a simple change like switching to LED lighting or something more substantial.

And since smart meters also send energy readings directly to energy suppliers, businesses using them benefit from more accurate bills and an end to manual meter readings. It means businesses can be confident they’re only paying for the energy they’ve actually used. With so much uncertainty still lying ahead, the more control businesses have over their financial outgoings the better.

Empowering businesses to take control of their energy consumption and become more energy efficient is the key aim of the smart meter. They provide effective hassle-free control and encourage end-use energy efficiency. But while business benefits come in the form of time, energy and cost savings, for the UK as a whole, the stakes are even higher.


The quiet revolution

The fact is, smart meters have huge benefits not just for individual businesses but the entire UK. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) goes so far as to state that smart meters are “the building blocks of a more flexible and resilient energy system fit for the 21st Century”. And the UK government estimates that having a smart meter could reduce countrywide carbon emissions by 45 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 26 million cars off the road for a year [1].

Now this may sound like a stretch to a single business thinking about upgrading to a smart meter. But when you consider the fundamental role smart meters play in helping businesses understand their energy use – and in turn lower their carbon footprint – you can see how collectively they may also enable a UK-wide low carbon energy system in the future.


Cleaner and greener together

When you upgrade to the next generation meter, you become part of a collective ambition to reduce energy consumption, lower carbon emissions and help the UK achieve its net zero target by 2050 – whether you realise it or not. It all boils down to the job smart meters perform and what this means for the energy industry as a whole.

On the one hand, smart meters empower businesses to begin their own energy efficiency journey. On the other, they provide valuable intel that is the key to a smart energy system – one with little waste because it knows just what resources need directing where, and at what time of day or night.


A smart solution

The energy system we have now is unable to accurately map business energy demand. As a result, lots of energy goes to waste. With smart meters, energy providers are able to monitor energy consumption using near real-time data and time-of-use-tariffs. With a deeper understanding of current demands, energy suppliers are able to predict how much energy is required and match supply with demand. The result is a smarter, more stable grid. But the wider benefits don’t end there.

Grid operators that have the analytics to efficiently deliver the right level of energy are in a much better position to integrate renewable energy resources such as wind and solar into the system. And the more the UK uses renewable forms of energy, the less air pollution is created, the less CO2 is emitted and the greater our chances of achieving net zero.


The perfect time to get a smart meter is now 

Without smart meters, The Committee on Climate Change estimates the costs of achieving net zero by 2050 could be up to £16 billion higher each year [1]. Yet despite the far-reaching and individual business benefits, many are yet to upgrade.

The good news is, energy suppliers now have an additional six months to make sure they have taken all reasonable measures to install smart meters in businesses and make up for the time lost due to the pandemic. It means if you haven’t upgraded yet – particularly if your business is currently closed meaning less disruption – now may be the perfect time to get in touch with your energy supplier and ask about a smart meter installation.

At British Gas, we’re constantly working with businesses to install smart meters for everyone that wants one. And where there may have been issues with eligibility in the past related to poor signal, incompatible meter type or a lack of space to complete the installation, we’re doing everything we can to resolve these issues on a case-by-case basis.

Like many energy suppliers, British Gas is working through all smart meter installations systematically. So, while the roll-out started with the replacement of single rate meters, it won’t be long before businesses with other meter types get to upgrade too. Today the question around smart meters is less about if you’ll upgrade, and much more about when. See more information about eligibility and other frequently asked questions on smart meters for business.


Ready to reduce your business carbon emissions further?

No matter what your energy goals are – whether you’re working towards long-term sustainability or simply want to implement energy efficiency measures that help reduce your costs – there are lots of options available to businesses.

Businesses can make more informed decisions about what other services and technologies will be most beneficial to reducing costs and carbon emissions. As well as installing smart meters, another easy option to reducing carbon emissions is to switch to green business energy. And, for those that want to go further, switching to electric vehicles and installing EV car charging points will demonstrate your commitment to your customers and employees. And what about installing LED lighting or automatic controls for heating and cooling to help you reduce your energy costs?

Whatever your short- and long-term energy reduction goals, as the UK’s largest energy and services supplier, we can help.






More information on business smart meters

Smart Energy GB – the quiet revolution campaign

How electricity smart meters work

How gas smart meters work


Related articles

Smart meters explained

Smart meter roll-out – how to get your free upgrade

8 steps to creating your business energy strategy



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