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Estimated energy bills hark back 'to the dark ages'

Thursday, November 13th 2014 by Ellen Branagh

Smart home technology should itemise people’s energy costs to help them save money, the head of an energy-saving device company has said.

Richard Morgan, business development manager of Smappee, said energy costs are the only household expenditure that are not itemised, and that the use of estimated bills are going “back to the dark ages”.

Smappee clamps onto a household meter’s main power cable and can monitor the energy consumption of the individual devices in the home. Its companion app shows energy usage and costs, helping people to see where they are wasting energy.

Mr Morgan said it is the equivalent of having a traditional smart meter on each appliance in the home, allowing people to easily see where they can save money.

He compared the method to using itemised bills to reduce costs, from credit cards and grocery bills, to monthly phone bills.

He said: “You look at all those bills for instance and they’re itemised. You go to your Tesco shop, you’ve got an itemised bill at the end of the day, how much it costs for your beans, your cabbages etc.

“One of the only big costs in a house that I can think of which isn’t itemised like that is electricity.

“So the first thing you do when you want to reduce your credit card bills, or reduce your phone bill, you look down your itemised bill and say ‘why did I spend that much on my credit card here and here?’, or, ‘why are we calling international numbers or phoning my sister for three hours every single night etc? Is there not something I can do to reduce that?’

“So having an itemised methodology to your costs is the first step in being able to visualise it, reduce it and manage essentially that cost.

“But with electricity what do you do? You get a bill at the end of the month, a single figure at the end of the month that tells you your cost is X. “And quite often that’s an estimated bill which in this day and age is just going back to the dark ages.”

Mr Morgan’s comments come amid growing concerns over energy bills, with prices of gas and electricity last month reported as having outstripped inflation since 2003/04.

As part of its plans to “upgrade” the UK’s energy system, the government aims to make sure all homes and small businesses have smart meters by 2020, with suppliers responsible for installing them.

The move is promised to bring real-time information on energy use, making it easier for people to save money, as well as bringing an end to estimated billing and making it easier to switch suppliers.

But Mr Morgan said traditional smart meters do not help people reduce their energy consumption.

He said: “They do nothing to help you reduce your energy consumption.

“They only open up questions. And what Smappee does, it opens up your eyes to the potential savings that are there within your house and for the very first time opens your eyes to the energy consumption within your house.

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