During our recent events on managing energy demand BWCE board member Sonya Bedford talked about the benefits she had received from having a smart meter and a time of use electricity tariff. We asked Sonya to expand on this for our newsletter.

I, like many people, had heard good and bad reports about smart meters but when I got my electric car last year (a Renault Zoe) a smart meter became a necessity. I leased my electric vehicle from Octopus Energy and because Octopus Energy are a supplier they offer a specific electric vehicle tariff for electricity used.

Smart meters allow home owners not only to monitor their electricity use through smart displays and mobile phones they also allow you to take part in different tariffs with energy suppliers. The agile tariff with octopus energy provides half hourly pricing which allows the customer to choose to use their electricity when wholesale prices are cheaper.

A lot of suppliers are looking at agile type tariffs and what is known as demand side response. I have taken part in a couple of demand side response days. Between certain hours at the weekend I charged my car, put on my tumble drier, turned on all the lights (all very strange for an energy saving geek!) and I got paid for using the electricity during those times. Why? Because on some days when the sun is out and the wind is good there may be some excess electricity on the system and rather than have wind farms and solar farms turn off I use more electricity. From each of the days I have taken part in the demand side response I have had £6 taken off my electricity bill!

On a normal day, however, it is all about charging the electric vehicle. I plug in the car (to my home charger – which was purchased with the aid of a OLEV grant from the Government). And through an app on my phone the car charges when electricity is cheapest (usually between midnight and 4am). Because of this, if I also plug in appliances to use at the same time, it means my electricity use if very cheap – usually 5p kWh. Through the use of this tariff it has meant my electricity bill has gone down dramatically, not something I was expecting from having an electric vehicle!

I am now an advocate for both smart meters and electric vehicles. I pay so little to drive the electric car, compared to the expensive diesel car I used to have, and my home (which is pretty energy intensive with two teenage daughters) is now much cheaper to run. I rent my house and this is one of the ways a tenant can save money and be much greener. Finally, I should mention that my electricity tariff is 100% renewable energy from known sources of solar farms and wind farms.

Sonya Bedford is Sonya is the leader of the Energy Team at Stephens Scown solicitors and a Co-opted Director of BWCE.

For more information on smart meters check out the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

More on the Octopus demand side response days.