‘How a smart meter helped my business save money’
Paul Astley, who runs Gateshead-based hairdressers Paul’s Barbers, reveals how a smart meter has helped him to near-halve his energy bills
Name: Paul Astley
Company: Paul’s Barbers
Based in: Gateshead, Tyne & Wear
Paul Astley has been running his own hairdressing salon, Paul’s Barbers, for 20 years. Two years ago he received a flyer from his energy provider telling him about smart meters. And after a lifetime of snipping, the idea of finding a way to help cut his energy consumption immediately appealed to the small business owner.
“I wanted one for the convenience and to know how much energy I was really using,” he says. “Before, I was getting sent estimated bills and the smart meter stopped that.” Not long after his initial enquiry, Astley had his smart meter fitted.
Astley’s electricity consumption is relatively modest and confined to just a handful of devices – the hairdryers, electric kettle, electric showers, and heaters, as well as lighting.
Energy is something most of us have got used to considering a fixed cost that we have little control over. “Because you haven’t got something telling you how much you’re using per hour or per week you don’t think about it. Before I had the smart meter installed, I was conscious about energy use but not to the same degree.”
As is the case for most small business owners, Astley’s usage and bills varied considerably depending on the season. But on average he was paying £60 per month before the smart meter was installed. Since then he’s as good as halved his outlay, illustrating the potential savings any business can make by paying more attention to their energy consumption.
How the smart meter works
Astley’s smart meter came with a digital display – although some business owners access energy data via an app or online portal. This shows the amount of energy used each week, as well as its cost. “It’s dead easy to understand,” he says.
“It also sends out a bleeper – like a warning signal – when you’re using a lot of energy. When I put the electric shower on, it makes a bleeping sound as that uses a lot of energy.” The biggest adjustment he’s made has been to switch things off when he’s not using them. “Before I’d have two heaters on at the same time – but after seeing the information on the display, I’ll turn the other heater off as it’s wasting energy.”
Conscious of cashflow, he says finding ways to save money is hugely important to him. “I do other things to keep my costs down,” he points out, explaining how he’s also added draft excluders and switched to energy saving bulbs. And there’s little doubt that Paul’s experience demonstrates how seeing one’s overheads accrue in near real time can quickly lead to a change in mindset, as well as a better looking bottom line.