A simples guide

Smartphone apps to help measure energy usage

It’s now possible to measure and manage your energy consumption via specially designed apps on a smartphone, which can make life a lot simpler if you already run the rest of your life from your device.

Which providers have the facility to submit meter reading via apps?

Energy smartphone apps can be used by customers of many utility providers, including:

  • EDF Energy
  • ScottishPower
  • SSE
  • British Gas
  • E.ON
  • nPower
  • OVO Energy
  • First Utility

Typical features offered by these apps include:

  • Submitting meter readings
  • Paying bills
  • Amending direct debits
  • Changing to different tariffs
  • Making pre-payment top-ups
  • Monitoring previous usage
  • Booking engineers for repairs and servicing
  • General help and advice, such as energy saving tips, or what to do in an emergency
  • Controlling the central heating on your phone while you are away from home
  • Allowing you to read your meter in the dark via a torch facility

The exact features offered vary between providers, so it’s best to explore the app once you download it. However, if you want to use your phone to manage your energy usage, the features offered by a provider’s energy smartphone app could be an important consideration when choosing your provider. These ‘smart meter apps’ are generally available to customers with iPhone and Android smartphones, and some are also available to iPad users.

Why it might be better for customers to submit readings via apps

Submitting a meter reading via a smartphone app allows you to provide your supplier with an accurate, up-to-date record of your usage.

Some apps use optical technology, so the meter is read and the data submitted to your provider via the camera on your phone. Other apps may instead require you to enter the meter reading manually.

Either way, you may no longer need energy companies’ estimated bills as you can update this more frequently to reflect your actual usage. A visit from an official of an energy company to read your meter is now a rare event indeed, so in most cases you either need to supply your own readings, or rely on the provider to estimate your usage.

If they underestimate your usage, you could be left owing money to the company, and reports suggest this has happened to as many as one in three households. If they overestimate, then you end up paying too much – so accuracy is key.

What if I don’t have a smartphone?

You’re in luck. Your provider is likely to install a smart meter soon, where readings are automatically submitted to the company and you can monitor your energy usage... In the meantime though, you may be able to submit meter readings online or by calling up.


Other energy saving apps

In addition to those provided by energy suppliers, there are also a number of other smartphone apps available that you could use to help manage your energy usage. Some of these have innovative features such as:

  • Allowing you to turn off the lights remotely if you left them on
  • Allowing you to turn on the air conditioning or garden sprinkler system
  • Providing information on the levels of energy you would save by installing extra insulation etc.
  • Recommending which lightbulbs you should buy, and where you can get them
  • Allowing you to see the size of your carbon footprint
  • Helping you identify specific areas where you can reduce energy usage, and which appliances in your home are using the most energy
  • Tracking your progress towards meeting pre-defined energy saving goals
  • Allowing you to control your home security system remotely

You can read more about our other energy saving tips to help to reduce your energy bill or you could look at switching provider to get a cheaper tariff. It could be worth more than you think.