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    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2021 edited
     
    Does anyone have any experience of being able to continue enjoying Economy 7 tariff after having a smart meter installed?

    My supplier, EDF, are worryingly coy about this. I'm assuming:

    1. There aren't any SMETS2 'smart' meters available to suppliers which 'know about' dual tariffs.

    2. Dual tariff via a smart meter would be achieved by using the 30 minute reporting option and the supplier recording usage as per the Economy 7 time periods.

    However, it's not difficult to find horror stories about people having a smart meter installed, being promised by the supplier they have the option of 'Economy 7 mode' but in reality it's becomes a never-ending 'available soon'!

    I realise that Agile Octopus would be a great option, but not now - given the current wholesale market, they will not allow you to switch to them and the cheap periods are probably not happening at the moment, or for the foreseeable.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2021
     
    Posted By: John WalshMy supplier, EDF, are worryingly coy about this.

    What do you mean by this? What have you asked them and what have they replied?
    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2021
     
    Hi, I'm not sure I want to get into a diversion about energy supplier comms (good or bad practice). The question is does anyone have experience of being able to continue enjoying Economy 7 tariff after having a smart meter installed?
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2021
     
    Hi John,
    I posed the same question to EDF a few weeks ago, before a proposed switch. Slightly different inasmuch as I wanted to go on a simple economy 7 or 10 tariff without the smart meter. In my case it meant swapping a standard for a dual tariff meter, but that option wasn't available.
    I discovered their Smart meters don't seem to be an option in my area either, just in case they were about to launch an Agile type equivalent.
    I did eventually swap to them, from Octopus, (no Smart meters there either), on a reasonable three year fixed tariff, just a week or so before the latest turmoil.
    Now in their system I may let the dust settle before trying again down the dual tariff meter swap route in future.
    You may care to look at their EV tariff which I understand is also dual pricing; you may be able to blag something there?
    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2021
     
    Thanks for info owlman, the problem is getting reliable info from the (any supplier). Given it's reckoned there are 4 million homes in the UK on Economy 7 I would have thought asking about an E7 smart meter would be simple/ common. But no, there is very little info to be had (via a google search). As far as I can see, the issues relates to the 'smart' meters in that the current, latest, SMETS 2 meters are not capable of storing time-period consumption (e.g. like a regular E7 meter does). Instead, the supplier has to log usage every 30 mins and then apportion usage to time periods. For some reason (profit - you end up paying more!), they are not willing to do that and instead say things like 'in the future ...'. Now with EV it's probably different in that there's more pressure to force them to apportion usage to time periods given all the EV promo about.

    I just wondered if anyone else has recent experience of this - EDF just say (on the phone this morning) "yes, it'll be a like-for-like swap of your E7 meter for an E7 smart meter". I don't believe this as I can't find any reference to there being an E7 smart meter.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2021
     
    I may be wrong, but I thought all SMETS 2 meters were in effect data loggers, so any interpretation, and hence pricing, of that info is in the software at the energy supplier end.
    When I last looked into getting a Smart meter I discovered that in the Northern half of the UK, it's still a question of regional comms., or lack of them as to whether they can fit one or not.
    One conversation I had with EDF indicated there were no simple dual tariff meters available any more. Although energy suppliers seem to regularly fit newer, but reconditioned, standard meters when they rip out old rotary types. I think the real answer is they don't want dual tariff anymore and are using any excuse to scrap or delay it.
    For my two penny worth, If you already have an economy 7 meter keep it, and don't let them anywhere near it.
    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2021
     
    Agree owlman that hanging on to our E7 meter would seem prudent - I don't trust the supplier and will wait for an Octopus Agile-like option to come along (I use a rpi to control hot water, underfloor mats and towel rails so would hope to use webhooks and IFTTT for comms between rpi and a smart meter).

    For info, below links to a 'EDMI SMETS2' meter spec - page 2 'Billing Data Log' says 'GBCS Compliant' with e.g. 'Tariff Block Count Matrix'.

    Search for e.g. 'GBCS compliant 4 x 8 matrix' and Gov specs for meters docs say things like:

    5.7.4.48 Tariff Switching Table [INFO] A set of rules for allocating half-hourly Consumption to a Tariff Register for Time-of- use Pricing and Time-of-use with Block Pricing. The rules stored within the table shall specify which of 16 Day Profiles should be used to allocate Consumption to Tariff Registers according to ...

    I think that means that (some) SMETS2 meters can record lots of tariff time periods such as E7 (and many more), i.e. the data is readily available to the supplier, it's all down to the supplier wanting to play ball.

    https://www.smartme.co.uk/documents/ES-10B-Factsheet-English.pdf
  1.  
    General advice seems not to change tariff/supplier at the moment because of the market situation.

    E7/E10 tariffs date back from a time when GB had a lot of baseload generation going spare overnight (coal, nuclear), so suppliers could offer it cheaper then. In recent years the market seems to have changed and is driven more by demand, so wholesale prices are high during the evening demand peak, and lower during the afternoon as well as overnight. So the suppliers probably find it difficult to run E7/E10 and should eventually move more towards 'agile' time of use tariffs, possibly with 48 different prices for each half-hour of each day as well as simpler options, the smart meters can deal with this. The roll out of electric cars should change the market again, with more demand at certain times, but with smart-metering chargers to smooth things out and perhaps V2G.

    But who knows what will survive during the current situation...!

    Edit: despite the specs for customer access devices, it seems extremely difficult to interface a homemade controller directly with the smart meter, which has a very secure network with any device that is allowed to talk to it. Better to retrieve tariff and consumption data from the supplier if they offer it in a convenient way. Some of the in-home displays can upload your data to a third party, eg our Chamaeleon IHD sends our data to Samsung SmartThings, but even then it's not easy to extract it.
    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2021 edited
     
    Hi WillInAberdeen, re "it seems extremely difficult to interface a homemade controller directly with the smart meter" - I was hoping to (if the energy market ever gets back to 'normal') use something like Agile Octopus and IFTTT. I've not looked too deeply into this but assume I could create an IFTTT applet which uses Webhooks to send "cheap lecky alert" URL encoded requests to a web server on the raspberry pi controller, which php/python would see and then turn things on/off. Well, something roughly like that. Isn't this the kind of thing Octopus envisage? Do you have any experience of trying to do this kind of thing?

    Edit: re security, if the smart meter didn't want to send Webhooks web server requests then MQTT would be another option (the rpi runs a Mosquitto MQTT server).
  2.  
    Hi John, I haven't done this myself, but if you search for comments by borpin it might lead to useful threads.

    AiUI,

    "IF (price < 10p) THEN Turn_On_The_Immersion"

    is quite easy to do with Octopus,
    but

    "Check the prices for the next 24h and turn on the immersion at the optimum times for my household's likely usage"

    ...is more difficult.
    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2021
     
    It's a good point - the problem of predicting future usage / hoping there's a cheap rate incoming. Does it show the holistic nature of the problem? Maybe a bigger cylinder, much better insulated, a back-up of some form, sometimes it's just tough, "we're out of hot water" or pay more for the electric if it's an emergency. Are the negatives mitigated by the warm glow of knowing you do actually have a 'smart' electricity usage system? (is that easier to sell to the kids these days?).
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2021
     
    I asked Bulb about an E7 smart meter earlier this year. Their reply was that it wouldn't be possible 'until next year'.
    • CommentAuthorCliff Pope
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2021
     
    I thought the point of a smartmeter was that it could detect when electricity was available at a cheaper rate and advised you so that you could take advantage of it?
    If you have Economy 7 then it is already, in a limited sense, "smart" in any case - it knows the hours when cheaper electricity is supplied, so you have the option of switching things on then.
    It seems hard to imagine that two semi-smart systems could work at the same time - Economy 7 operates at regular predictable hours - like clockwork in fact, regardless of actual demand fluctuations, whereas a smart meter can switch its tariff at will based on national demand

    One is based inflexibly solely on the time of day, the other varies according to actual demand.
    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2021
     
    That is a very smart world you seem to be describing there Cliff. If only. Sadly, it's not the case that so-called 'smart' meters "detect when electricity was available at a cheaper rate" or "switch its tariff at will based on national demand". All they currently do is record your usage and tell the supplier your usage and tell the consumer what the usage is and the cost (given the tariff you have signed up to). Not very 'smart' at all. Equally, the E7 meter is hardly 'smart' - it just records what electricity is used in which time period. It doesn't in any sense know when cheaper electricity is supplied.

    The point with wanting a so-called 'smart' meter recording usage as per the E7 tariff is merely an attempt to reduce the amount we're swindled by daily by the suppliers. Sadly, as Mike1 point out, it's not easy!
  3.  
    Hi Cliff, thats a good summary.

    The smart meter can tell you the tariff rate that you are paying at the present time, so you could take advantage of cheaper periods. (That's if it came with a suitable in-home display, and you have selected to view the tariff, rather than viewing say the £-p you have already spent today or the kW you are using right now).

    It's hard to get the smart meter to talk *directly* to your devices such as heaters, but fortunately this is easier to do via the internet, at least for the few variable tariffs on the market so far.

    That way you can also see what your tariff is going to be later on today, so you can decide when would be the best time to turn stuff on. John is interested in building a home made controller to do this automatically.

    The SM's job is more about recording what time/day you used the electricity, so you get billed at the right price.

    The SM design does allow them to control switches directly, so the electricity company could turn things on/off at cheaper times for you, but this has not been rolled out yet afaik because customers have privacy and security concerns. This aspect might get used with the next generation of EV chargers, to stagger the times that they turn onto max and so avoid crashing the grid, in return for cheaper charging.
    • CommentAuthorCliff Pope
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2021
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: John Walsh</cite> Equally, the E7 meter is hardly 'smart' - it just records what electricity is used in which time period. It doesn't in any sense know when cheaper electricity is supplied.

    </blockquote>

    It does in a very limited sense - it knows the electricity is half price between 1 and 8 am :)
    But I don't see how that could be compatible with another meter trying to apply a different discount?
    • CommentAuthorJohn Walsh
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2021
     
    Cliff, WillInAberdeen - very impressed by your alternative smart universe. Smart meters turning devices on and off, valiantly trying to apply discounts. Sounds great.
  4.  
    Posted By: John WalshWebhooks web server requests URL encoded requests raspberry pi controller, php/python MQTT


    Sounds like you're already a native speaker in that alternative universe, that language might as well be Klingon for me!

    Is this any good to you?
    https://github.com/markgdev/OctopusAgile/blob/master/README.md
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2021
     
    Posted By: Cliff PopeIt does in a very limited sense - it knows the electricity is half price between 1 and 8 am :)

    Well, no it doesn't. It just knows how much electricity is used at night and how much during the day. Each month I read those numbers off it and give them to my supplier, who calculates how much it all costs and charges me.

    If I had a smart meter, it would record how much I used every half-hour and supply those numbers directly to my supplier. Again my supplier would work out how much that costs on the tariff I have subscribed to and would charge me. One reason I don't have a smart meter yet is that I haven't found one that will tell ME how much electricity I use, despite my understanding being that they are legally required to provide that capability.
    • CommentAuthorCliff Pope
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: djh</cite><blockquote><cite>Posted By: Cliff Pope</cite>It does in a very limited sense - it knows the electricity is half price between 1 and 8 am :)</blockquote>
    Well, no it doesn't. It just knows how much electricity is used at night and how much during the day. Each month I read those numbers off it and give them to my supplier, who calculates how much it all costs and charges me.

    </blockquote>

    I think we are just arguing semantics here. What does "know" actually mean?
    Does a flower know where the sun is so it can turn towards it? No, not really. It just has some chemicals that react in a certain way and cause certain physical reactions.
    Does a computer know what the time is? No, it just picks up a signal and displays certain shapes on a screen.
    Do I know the earth is round not flat? No, I just put together certain evidence and it seems to fit the theory so I behave as if the earth is round.
    Does a nesting bird know what her chicks need? No, she just reacts to instincts, which are perhaps just a collection of chemicals and electrical impulses.
    No one and nothing actually "knows" anything - we act on theories and preset mechanisms that explain things reasonably well, until a better theory comes along.

    So in ordinary language an economy 7 meter "knows" that electricity is cheaper at certain times. It works, until they change the settings or the rules. :)

    "It just knows how much electricity is used" - your words. No it doesn't, it's only a machine, it can't know anything. It simply reacts in a way that suggests it knows, and that's good enough for me and the electricity industry. :)
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021
     
    Here's my understanding of smart meters. Can anybody who actually has one or is properly familiar with the standards confirm or correct this?

    The meter records the amount of electricity used in each half-hour period and communicates that to the supplier (via some clearing centre?). It also communicates the present use (and the history?) to an IHD (in-home display) via its local radio network (which it would also use to communicate with a gas meter if there's one).

    The smart meter gets told the rates for each half hour by the supplier so it can communicate that information to the IHD but AFAIK it doesn't do the multiplication with the usage except, perhaps, for display purposes. I.e., the actual calculation of the charges is done by the supplier.

    The local radio network is designed to be secure so user equipment shouldn't be able to take part. Again, AFAIK, it's sufficiently encrypted that the user (or their neighbour or a passing burglar) can't even passively monitor electricity usage.

    In principle, the IHD could have a serial port, Wi-Fi connection or something allowing the user direct read-only access to the information it has but this doesn't seem to be something that's being pushed at all so I'm not sure if it's ever actually present. This would be a matter of the design of the IHD, not the smart meter itself.

    In addition to any communication with the IHD which may or may not exist the suppliers usually have some sort of API so the user can get the prices and their own usage over the internet (I know Octopus Agile gives the data in various JSON formats). That usage information seems to only be on the per-half hour basis, not more fine-grained than that.
  5.  
    Ed, that's all correct!

    Additional to your 2nd-last para:

    IHDs are available which also have a Customer Access Device built into them. The CAD joins the secure network (HAN) and retrieves the data in real time (not just every half hour) and has a WiFi connection which doesn't have such impenetrable security. So it can share the data to other devices over the home WiFi network (immersion switches etc) or to third party services over the internet, eg for home-automation or data logging.

    (Edit: apparently an IHD is considered to be just one kind of CAD)

    A leading supplier of such IHD+CAD boxes is Chamaeleon, we were given one by Bulb, I think other utility companies also dish them out.

    TBH, bulb have locked down the WiFi configuration so consumers don't muck around with it, they set it only to interact with Samsung's Smart Things home automation system, so that's good but not a huge improvement on downloading the half-hourly data from Bulb.

    For us, the biggest benefit has been having a real time £-p display of the energy used today. If we leave the electric towel rail switched on too long, or heat something up in the oven instead of the microwave, we immediately know that it's cost us, and £ are easier units for everyone in the house to relate to than kWh are.

    All this energy monitoring could be done in other ways, by buying sensors and programming Pi (Pi's? Pies?) and learning about APIs, and some folks have done that like you. However we didn't have the skills or inclination, so it was great for us to be given it for free!
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021
     
    If youre on a half hour variable tariff do the half hourly rates actually get sent from DCC to the smart meter and then sent from the meter to the IHD?
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: philedgeIf youre on a half hour variable tariff do the half hourly rates actually get sent from DCC to the smart meter and then sent from the meter to the IHD?
    Yes. See my third paragraph as confirmed by WiA. Not sure how far ahead they know, same as the website/API (48 hours from each evening)? WiA?

    Posted By: WillInAberdeenTBH, bulb have locked down the WiFi configuration so consumers don't muck around with it, they set it only to interact with Samsung's Smart Things home automation system, so that's good but not a huge improvement on downloading the half-hourly data from Bulb.
    As I say, not the sort of thing they're pushing which is a pity. I can imagine why - they don't need the support issues. Still, if they just had a web interface to get some JSON, an “advanced” setting to publish to an MQTT server or something like that it could easily be made to work for a lot of HA systems.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021
     
    Posted By: Cliff PopeI think we are just arguing semantics here.

    I think you're choosing to argue semantics, not me. Whatever verb you use, an E7 meter collects (or any other verb of your choice) data about kWh used; it does not collect (or report or calculate or any other verb) any data about the costs of electricity.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: djhit does not collect (or report or calculate or any other verb) any data about the costs of electricity.
    It does “know” the cost of electricity and report it to the IHD. See, for example, these instructions for the Bulb IHD

    https://bulb.co.uk/guides/home-energy/how-to-use-in-home-display/

    which gives the prices. They only “recommend” connecting the IHD to Wi-Fi for software updates, they don't mention anything about it needing to be connected to Wi-Fi to get price information so it must be getting the prices from the smart meter. Agree, though, that that's presumably not how the actual bill is calculated.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: Ed Davies
    Posted By: djhit does not collect (or report or calculate or any other verb) any data about the costs of electricity.
    It does “know” the cost of electricity and report it to the IHD. See, for example, these instructions for the Bulb IHD

    An E7 meter is an old 'dumb' meter. It knows nothing at all about costs. Or IHDs :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021
     
    Djh, sorry, I missed that the conversation had split that way.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021
     
    I think the thread got mixed up Ed, because John mentioned he'd been quoted for an "E7 Smart meter" as a swap for his E7 dumb meter. I for one wasn't aware that there were any E7 specific, "Smart" meters, neither does he.
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2021
     
    Posted By: owlmanI for one wasn't aware that there were any E7 specific, "Smart" meters, neither does he.


    If a supplier can send half hourly tariff rates to a standard smart meter, then any smart meter could be used as an E7 meter?? Just needs the supplier to send 2 sets of rates to the meter, one for the peak period and one for the off peak.

    Previous threads have suggested that routine night time cheap electricity rates may be a thing of the past so likely suppliers will be wanting to phase out E7 and promote time of use??
   
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