Susan Whyte is the smart meter programme manager at Electric Ireland. Having overseen Electric Ireland’s smart meter programme, which included managing the partnership with Bidgely, a data-driven company that enables Electric Ireland to empower customers to take control of their energy usage through smart meters, Susan was well-placed to serve as the energy expert for Electric Ireland's Home Truths series.
What is Home Truths?
is a digital-first video series which puts Electric Ireland customers at the heart of what we do: trying to make a greener energy future for everyone.
We placed hidden cameras in some of our customers' homes to monitor how they use energy on an average day.
Equipped with nifty technology, such as a heat gun which can measure heat loss on a surface, Susan also inspected our customers' homes to help empower them to use less, and save more. Here, she gives us the lowdown of what she hopes customers will take from Home Truths, and what small changes we can all make towards a greener energy future. Because we're brighter together.
1. Susan, you are the smart meter programme manager at Electric Ireland. Tell us about your role.
I'm lucky to work in an exciting part of the energy industry that is delivering new innovative solutions for Electric Ireland customers. Smart meters are currently being installed in customers’ homes by ESB Networks across the country. These new meters have enabled Electric Ireland to deliver some new services to customers.
We started the service development by talking to customers and asking them what issues they have with their service currently. The most common issues customers were having were estimated bills, not knowing what was driving their electricity costs, wanting to pick what date and how frequently they received a bill. We wanted to make sure that the services we delivered addressed these issues for our customers.
Our new smart meter plans, called Home Electric+, do just that, and a lot more. Customers with a smart meter installed will now have no more estimated bills, complete transparency on what’s driving their electricity costs and choice on billing cycles and dates.
2. You’ve worked at Electric Ireland for 20 years. How has the company evolved to help empower customers to take more control of their energy usage?
As part of our Brighter Together programme at Electric Ireland, we’re committed to educating our customers and the wider public in understanding their energy usage. As mentioned, we have recently launched some new services for customers with smart meters to allow them to understand when they are using electricity and what appliances are using the most electricity in their homes.
Understanding how much energy we use in the home everyday, and where that energy comes from, is key to reducing our energy consumption. And reducing our energy consumption helps reduce our impact on the environment and, ultimately, helps us save money.
3. What are some of the most common household habits that waste energy?
There are lots of energy-saving tips that we can share to help reduce energy wastage. We provide these to our customers on their bills and on our website and some of the most effective ones are:
- Only fill the electric kettle with what you need (don’t boil a full kettle for one cuppa!)
- Minimise the use of your tumble dryer
- Minimise the use of electric heaters
- Try to use the eco settings on your appliances, for example dishwasher, washing machine
- Time the length of your electric showers (there are some great shower heads available that change colour the longer you are in the shower to remind you)
- Turn down the temperature of your central heating thermostat
- Plug out appliances that aren’t in use (phone chargers are a common one that are left in all the time on standby)
4. What surprises people the most when they hear where their energy goes?
Well I can speak from personal experience here, during the past year we had our smart meter installed and I was really surprised to see how much a small electric heater that was being used in a garden shed was costing us every week. It has since been retired!
5. You monitored some of our customers’ homes for Electric Ireland’s Home Truth series. Did anything surprise you during the house inspections?
I was actually pleasantly surprised at the amount of small changes our customers were already making. It was fantastic to see some of our customers investing in long-term technologies that will, over time, have a huge impact on their carbon footprint.
The McCoy Family, (pictured) for instance, who feature in Home Truths, invested in an electric vehicle and a home charger. We know that electric vehicles significantly lower CO2 emissions, reduce air and noise pollution - and they're cheaper to run than the average petrol or diesel car. And a home charger can save you about 66% versus a diesel equivalent.
Our customers that were renting together were very good at keeping on top of the little things, such as unplugging laptops when not in use, only putting on large appliances when they were full - dishwasher, washing machine.
And the Jess Family were great at working together as a group. Calum was so interested in the environment and he was keeping them all on their toes - there's a future energy expert in Calum!
6. What do you hope customers learn from the Home Truths series?
The main message is that we can all make small adjustments to improve our energy consumption habits, and they all add up – both on our bills and on our environment.
Using eco settings on appliances, removing chargers from sockets when not in use, turning appliances off standby, using efficient light bulbs, all make contributions and they're just some examples.
Nobody wants to live an uncomfortable life so there’s a balance to be found between comfort and cost savings, and Electric Ireland are happy to help guide our customers on this.
7. If customers want more information on how to reduce their energy consumption and ultimately save themselves money, where can they go?
Electric Ireland launched the Brighter Together Hub
a few years ago and it hosts a wealth of information on energy-saving tips and information on grants that customers can avail of. Electric Ireland has pledged to deliver hundreds of pieces of content around how we can be brighter together and we, as a company, continue to fulfil this everyday.
Home Truths is of course a neat way to learn more information, and in the next month Electric Ireland is launching an exciting new tool where customers can learn even more ways to save energy, but I can't say too much about that for now. Watch this space!
Follow Home Truths on social media using #HomeTruths.For more information on energy-saving tips, click here.
For more on Electric Ireland's 100% green electricity plans, click here.
For more on Electric Ireland's Home Electric+ plans, including plans to suit EV drivers and shift workers with a smart meter, click here.
Follow Electric Ireland on social media: Twitter: @electricireland Facebook: @ Electric Ireland Instagram: @electricireland