Your guide to the smart grid

Everyone knows the UK has a national grid, but did you also know we now have a smart grid? Smart meters are an essential part of the new smart grid. This network will effectively integrate new, greener energy sources like solar panels and electric cars. Find out how the smart grid will affect energy prices and how it can help you to be more energy smart.

What is the smart grid?

Imagine an internet for gas and electricity – a smarter way to run our national energy networks in the 21st century. That’s the smart grid.

The smart grid will integrate smart meter technology into the national grid, building a more efficient, more reliable way of providing for our gas and electricity needs - one with a lower impact on our environment.

Why do we need a smart grid?

Our current energy network was designed for a time when our energy needs were less complex. Nowadays, we’re using much more energy but still need to find ways to reduce carbon emissions while integrating new technologies into our existing network.

The smart grid will match energy supply and demand more efficiently by upgrading our current system to match current demand. It will reduce waste as well as carbon emissions. It will make our energy supply more reliable and more secure – so that outages can be tackled faster. Most importantly though, the smart grid will help us prepare for the future, making it easier to plan the number of power stations we will need to meet growing demand.

As new technologies become available, the smart grid will integrate them into our lives and by introducing more flexible pricing, it will help us get the most from variable power sources like wind and solar.

How will a smart grid benefit the UK?

The smart grid is a more efficient, greener system that is laying the foundations for a whole new way of running our energy networks – one that frees up more funds into the UK economy. The way we measure and pay for our electricity and gas hasn’t kept pace with the technological advances in the energy sector for some years. The smart grid is helping the UK to advance and become more efficient.

How will the smart grid benefit you?

Smart meters measure your energy consumption in real time, giving you full visibility and control over the energy you use. You’ll no longer have the inconvenience of meter-readers knocking at your door or the inaccuracy of estimated bills.

In addition to the benefits listed above, if you’ve installed technology that generates power from a renewable source (such as solar PV), the smart grid will make it easier for you to ‘sell’ back the surplus energy you produce to the national grid, earning reductions on your energy bills. Find out more about how you can benefit from a feed-in tariff here.

On a day to day level though, the smart grid has the potential to make your life easier and more affordable. As the use of smart meters grows, the availability of smart appliances and devices will follow. In time, the smart grid will enable your smart meter to tell your washing machine the most economical time to switch itself on. Your electric vehicle will be able to talk to the smart grid, informing you of the right time of day to charge the car, giving you the best value for money and so on.

For a quick overview of the smart grid and the benefits it can bring, watch the videos and read our guide to the national grid here: