Yorkshire Housing’s Home Improvement Agencies (HIA) are promoting smart meter use among the over-65s in South and North Yorkshire.
The South HIA secured a £25,000 grant from the Campaign for a Smarter Britain for the deliverance of the scheme in South and North Yorkshire.
Handypersons and needs, advice and support officers will work with the National Energy Action charity to spread awareness of the rollout of smart meters.
This includes challenging myths and negative opinions surrounding the equipment.
It is part of packed schedule of work for Yorkshire Housing’s South HIA that includes gas safety, hospital discharge, core local authority contracts and domestic violence projects.
Judith Preston (pictured), South HIA needs, advice and support officer, is coordinating the smart meter scheme.
She said: “Smart meters allow people to monitor the money they spend.
“People often think their appliances cost more to run than they do. But with a smart meter, they realise they can afford to put the heating on or use the washing machine.
“It also reduces the risk of an elderly person with limited mobility attempting to get a meter reading from somewhere inaccessible.”
The grant runs from June to December 2019, and staff have a target of achieving 3,369 direct one-to-one customer conversations over that period.
They will also make 4,650 indirect interactions.
To reach the targets, staff are going door-to-door, running town centre stalls and visiting dementia care settings and hospitals among other activities.
The Campaign for a Smarter Britain ultimately want 50 million households in the UK to be offered a smart meter by the end of next year.
These would be fitted by utility companies and our HIAs would refer interested customers to their supplier.
Smart meter recommendation levels among over-65s have fallen over the last couple of years.
The Campaign for a Smarter Britain wants to get that rate back up by promoting them as a way for older people to save money, prevent energy wastage and maintain their independence in their own homes.
The advantages of smart meters include:
No estimated bills – you see exactly what energy you are using;
up-to-date information means you can switch for a better deal more confidently;
no longer need to send meter readings to your supplier;
the display can sit anywhere in your home;
no internet required – smart meters work in the same way as TVs;
they are free;
and they can be used with pre-pay meters and by those in rented homes.
Smart meters have two parts, the actual meter fitted to the supply installation and a separate display screen that be placed anywhere in a home.
Customers can choose to see how much energy they are using either hourly, daily or monthly.
The display screen shows, among other details, how much money a prepay account has left.
Prepay customers can top up online, by phone or in shops with the PayPoint sign and the funds added will show automatically on the display.
Yorkshire Housing’s HIA teams will promote these benefits and tackle myths, such as smart meters stop working if a customer changes supplier.
South HIA and internal adaptations manager Layla Walton said this could be a problem with a previous generation of smart meter known as the SMETS1 model.
She added: “Now there is a new version, the SMETS2, which means customers can change supplier and the smart meter will also change over automatically.
“Although people could still be issued with a SMETS1, there is a deadline in a year’s time for all the SMETS1s to have the same functionality, automatic change of supplier, as the SMETS2, so the issue will be resolved for any new customers receiving a SMETS1 model.”