During the lockdown, Smart Meters are helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
We're all familiar with the 2 meter rule for social distancing by now. In addition, there are 2 other meters which are helping to stop the spread of Covid-19 and helping vulnerable energy customers across the UK. As of early March 2020 there were over 4 million latest generation smart meters (SMETS 2) installed and there are also millions of old gen (SMETS1) still fully functioning.
Since 2015, Energy Angels have been helping forward thinking Social Landlords install smart meters for electricity and gas in order to help their tenants and residents save energy and save money. With smart meters in place, this enables an energy supplier to provide immediate support to those who need it. For an example of what's possible, here's a video from Utilita about their own 'Friendly Credit' service. More and more UK energy suppliers are now able to remotely send credit to vulnerable customers in times of need, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
How Social Landlords and Energy Angels have helped tenants and residents during this difficult time.
Many of our Local Authority and Housing Association partners choose to have Smart Meters installed during void or empty periods in order to make life better for their tenants and residents.
There are a number of benefits for smart meters such as;
- Real time energy usage, helping to understand what uses energy
- Remote top up which saves the need to go out to pay for more energy (currently SMETS1 only)
- Accurate billing as the energy supplier can take automatic meter readings
- Extra help for vulnerable customers where an energy supplier can send credit to a meter remotely (currently SMETS1 only)
- Resetting of previous customer debts remotely without the need for visits to shops (currently SMETS 1 only)
We have covered the ins and outs of smart meters on another thread, however I wanted to pay particular attention to remote topping up and extra help for vulnerable customers.
Remote topping up for prepayment meters. (SMETS1)
This really is as simple as it sounds. Instead of the visit to the shops with your electricity key or gas card in order to top-up via a Paypoint or Payzone location, energy customers are able to use an app, make a call or access their account online to make payments to top their meter up. This in turn adds credit to the electricity or gas meter automatically. During the lockdown, this has proved partcilarly useful in protecting vulnerable tenants and residents at risk who may be shielding or those with mobility issues who rely on family members to top up for them.
Extra help for vulnerable customers.(SMETS1)
Ever since our work started in 2015 around the installation of smart meters, our key message as always been around protecting against the what if, so this Pandemic is now putting our theories to the test and so far, seems to be working. We've already seen how well remote topping up has benefitted tenants and residents, but what has meant the most to us and to our Partners has been the ability for energy suppliers to help the most vulnerable in society, especially with fuel poverty issues.
As time roles on through this Pandemic, more and more energy suppliers are releasing their funding availability to help those in need with top ups on account and grants for their energy. With old style prepayment meters, these would still involve a visit to a shop to receive the help, via a Paypoint or Payzone. Smart meters really are game changers in that a person can make contact with their energy supplier, via Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, email, telephone or via the chatbots on their websites and receive help directly to their meters.
Whilst there's no way we could have seen this Pandemic coming, the fact that our Social Housing Partners implimented this strategy for Smart Meters has made a massive difference to many of their vulnerable tenants and residents ability to keep the power and heating on.
If you're a partner of ours and not yet implimenting this strategy, please feel free to get in touch and we can help you. Alternatively, if you're not a partner and would like to know more, we're here to help. Please call us on 01902 585500 of visit our Energy for Social Housing page and use the contact form.