A MAJOR drive has been launched to encourage small businesses in Scotland to get smart meters installed which could save them a fortune on gas and electricity bills.

Smart meters hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week when SSE customers were quoted thousands of pounds for one day’s worth of energy usage because of an error. Some of them posted pictures of their devices on social media with one showing a charge of almost £20,000 for a single day’s usage.

However, Smart Energy GB, the voice of the smart meter roll-out, insists everyone should have one because they put consumers back in control of how much they are using, saving them money. Smart meters send information directly back to the supplier letting people know how much gas and electricity they are using each day as they use it.

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John MacNeil, Smart Energy GB, head of policy and communications Scotland, is launching a campaign to get 2.1 million small businesses signed up for the new technology.

He said: “Many small businesses are eligible for an upgrade to a smart meter from their energy supplier. Smart meters will give small businesses some empowerment and control over their energy usage and their consumption and allow them to make positive choices on the back of the data that is then available to them on their energy use.

“At the moment it is all around estimation and the guess work that exists about how much energy you use, when and what appliance or machinery costs what. Whereas, with smart meters, small business will give them access to real-time information allowing them to change the way they consume energy and identify areas where they can make savings and cut costs.

“We are looking at a myriad of small businesses which have 10 or fewer employees like book shops, hairdressers and coffee shops around Scotland.

“Knowledge is power for small businesses and it allows them to make those choices that they are unable to do at the moment because they don’t have access to real-time information.

“It also allows them to identify areas where improvements can be made, whether its new machinery or new fridges or heating equipment, because the smart meter allows them to identify those areas where equipment isn’t working as efficiently as they could be.

“It gives them a wider picture of what they are using hour by hour and identifies areas that could be doing with improving.”

He wants small businesses to make that call to their energy supplier to find out when they will get their smart meter and if there are any costs linked to the installation.

MacNeil added: “We are encouraging small businesses to find out more about smart meters and what it means for them and to make that call to their supplier to find out when they can get one. The way the roll-out is being done is that every supplier is doing it at their own timescales but it has to be done by now and the end of 2020.

“So there is nothing to stop the small businesses to start researching smart meters. Don’t just wait for them to contact you, call them and find out more.”

He said smart meters are part of a major upgrade of the meter network across the UK and is “unprecedented in its scale” and “the foundation stone for so many technological advances in the future in innovation for energy”. For more information go to www.smartenergygb.org.