Energy bills: How some new smart meters are making customers pay more, not less, for electricity

The Energy Regulator is conducting an investigation into smart meter tariffs after revealing some of the plans on offer are more expensive than traditional ones.

This is despite the fact that smart meter tariffs are marketed as a way for customers to save money.

However, some smart meter annual time-of-use tariffs have been found to be more expensive than traditional energy tariffs.

Nearly a million smart meters have been installed in homes, but only 37,900 customers have activated them and signed up for the time-of-use or smart tariffs they are designed to enable.

Some smart meter unit tariffs are far higher than standard day/night meter tariffs.

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU), the energy regulator, said it is working with ESB Networks to find out why some of the tariffs are so expensive.

It comes as households have been hit by an eighth price hike in the latest wave of hikes, as Flogas Energy announced its third price hike this year.

As of October 26, electricity bills are up 17 percent and gas bills are up 23 percent.

It is Flogas Energy’s seventh price increase since the beginning of last year.

This time there is no basic fee increase. Flogas has some of the highest monthly subscription fees of up to €600 per year for electricity.

The latest price increase will increase electricity bills by around €340 a year and gas bills by around €395 a year, said Daragh Cassidy of price comparison site

A total of two million electricity consumers will be affected by enormous energy price increases from next month.

Meanwhile, the CRU confirmed it is reviewing tariffs for electricity customers with smart meters.

The CRU acknowledged, “In some cases, customers who have a day/night meter and tariff do not compare well to the smart meter tariffs that some providers are currently offering.”

This is due to how the individual providers price their products.

“Ongoing work is being done with ESB Networks and suppliers to understand the reason for some of the higher tariffs or if there are other obstacles that may affect the range of tariffs that the suppliers are currently offering.”

CRU urged customers to compare available plans as other providers may offer better value for money.

“As the market continues to evolve and there is more data from smart meters, we expect an increase in smart tariff offerings for customers that better suit their usage.”

Mr Cassidy said many of the smart tariffs currently on offer in Ireland do not appear to offer great value.

“Depending on what type of meter you currently have (e.g. a day/night meter or a standard meter) and when you use your electricity, you can end up paying more for your electricity with a smart tariff if you are not careful. That’s the last thing you want when prices are at record highs.”

He said smart tariffs “are great for penalizing those who use their energy at peak times between 5pm and 7pm. Outside of those times, they’re not so good at providing value.”

A smart meter continuously records electricity consumption in the home or premises where it is installed and automatically transmits updated information every 30 minutes to a central ESB Networks database.

A smart tariff means higher prices at peak times, when the power system is in high demand, and cheaper off-peak electricity.

Meanwhile, those who don’t have smart meters have been advised by to submit a meter reading this week.

Because in the next month around two million electricity customers and half a million gas customers will be affected by massive price increases.

Those who don’t submit a meter reading could end up paying at the new higher rate for units used before the October price increase. Energy bills: How some new smart meters are making customers pay more, not less, for electricity

Fry Electronics Team

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