Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Welcome to the hourly tariff

Spain is gradually moving over to digital meters to read electricity. The so called "smart meters" are connected using the cable to the internet so that suppliers can read them without calling at your house. They can also monitor outages remotely and of course cut you off if your bills are not paid or you try to exceed the maximum that you are contracted to.

Since your standing charges are based on the amount you contract to, people who live in apartments and older houses opt for a lower rating. Newer houses, like ours, have a higher rating to ensure that we can run a full range of washing machines, dishwashers, cookers, air conditioning units etc.

Those that have lower ratings who try to use a wide range of electrical devices with the new meters will find that they constantly trip out.

Suppliers have until 2018 to replace old analogue meters with the new digital ones. You should receive a letter to say when this will be done and there should be no charge.

Those who already have "smart meters" can monitor the amount of electricity that they use and if they opt for the new hourly tariff, they can choose when is the best time to run the washing machine. for example. The tariff for each day is available on the website of the Spanish electricity grid (REE) or they can download a mobile phone app to find this information.

The idea is that consumers have more control over the amount that they pay by monitoring their usage. That was never possible with the old analogue meters where you had to wait until the bill arrived to find out how much you were being charged.

The other advantage of a digital meter is that it should be more accurate. Analogue meters had a tolerance range which could mean that you were paying more or less than you should.

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