British Gas’ Hive: first look, hands-on & competition

UK energy company, British Gas, have recently unveiled their latest home innovation – the Hive system. The system looks to simplify the often confusing world of home and water heating systems, allowing for easy setting changes when they’re needed, without needing a conventional thermostat. The Hive system comes in an attractive layered box, and contains the welcome pack, the thermostat, the receiver and the hub, which will need to be set up by a qualified engineer in your home, but is good to go after this.

Hive Active Heating also aims to bring home heating to your smartphone – a free app, compatible with Android and IOS, will offer full control of your home’s heating and hot water wherever you are. If you’d rather put the heating on before you get home so the house is warm before you return, the Hive system will allow you to do this. This is made possible with the addition of the hub – included in the box, the hub is connected to your home internet router to allow it to communicate when you’re away from home.

The receiver allows the connection between the thermostat itself and the boiler – directly connected to the boiler by your qualified British Gas engineer, the receiver is the system’s middleman.

The thermostat itself is a fairly compact unit – its backlit screen offer easy viewing and control in the dark. The thermostat can be wall-mounted or kept on its own – it’s able to communicate with the receiver either way.

The system had us impressed – the benefits of a system like this could be great and make home heating a much easier and more approachable system. We also liked the fact that despite the system being created by British Gas, you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to take advantage of the system.

The Hive Active Heating system is available now for £159 for British Gas customers, or £199 for other customers. Watch the video above to see us unboxing the system.

For more information, visit Hive.

You can win a Hive system for your home!

To enter, follow these steps…

Step 1

Leave a comment on this post starting with “I love Hive because…” Be creative! To post, just click in the “Join the discussion…” comments box that appears below this article.

Step 2

Tweet this message: “I would love to win a @hivehome via @latestgadgetsuk as it’s smart, saves me money & puts me in control #HomeWithHive http://goo.gl/jgqRk6

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: The giveaway closes on Sunday 8th February 2015 at 11.59pm. The winner will be chosen by random – UK entries only. The winner will receive a new, but opened Hive product – Guarantees of this product are provided by British Gas, not Latest Gadgets.

This post was sponsored by Hive, in conjunction with Nuffnang.

Smart Energy Report: The online guide to your energy habits

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Regular readers will be aware that we’ve been working with the folks at British Gas to take a look at their new smart meters. So far we’ve covered how the meters work and the benefits they bring to individual households as well as the environment in general (through encouraging us to consider our energy consumption). In this final instalment, we’ll be looking at the Smart Energy Report (SER) which is a free online tool provide by British Gas to analyse your energy consumption habits.

Before we explain some of our findings, check out this intro video:

The Smart Energy Report is available to all British Gas customers who have opted to upgrade to smart meters. It enables you to see your past hourly, daily, weekly or monthly energy usage and how much it cost you. Another interesting element of the report is the “Explore by use” page which gives you a breakdown of what services (appliances, hot water, cooking, etc.) use the most energy and how much they’ve cost you. In our case, the cost of using appliances was more than four times what we generally spent on lighting – they clearly know we sit in the dark on our computers!

Check out this example of a Smart Energy Report:

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In addition to providing these interesting stats, the SER also provides personalised tips on how you can save energy as well as a comparison of your household consumption compared to similar households in the local area. As we’re a house full of technology it’s not surprising to learn that we’ve been using around 40% more electricity than our neighbours! Obviously this is not something to be proud of as it means we’re spending more and that we’re not really doing ‘our part’ when it comes to trying to tackle energy usage and its related environmental impact.

Once you’ve had the smart meters installed, you will be emailed your Smart Energy Report or you can access it any time via the British Gas web site. Those who don’t have an online account need not panic as the company will also post out your report, seven days after each bill. In order to receive the most detailed report, customers need to opt in to half-hourly meter readings (which are done automatically of course). However, if you’re happy with a less detailed report, then can you opt in for daily readings.

To find out more about the Smart Energy Report and the new smart meters, visit www.britishgas.co.uk/smart

 

The words above are our own, but in the interest of transparency this post should be considered as sponsored.

Smart Meters – A look at their global rollout

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As part of our ongoing series with the folks at British Gas, this time we’re looking at the roll out of smart meters around the world. These days it’s well accepted that tackling environmental issues, such as energy consumption, is something that needs to be done at a global level. Compared to some of our European neighbours, I think it’s fair to say we consider ourselves to be at the forefront of new technology. However, when it comes to embracing smart meters, we’re far behind the likes of Italy where an incredible 94% (37 million) households now use smart meters.

In fact, the roll out of smart meters is being embraced around the world. According to research by Berg Insight, conservative estimates forecast that between 90-130 million meters will be installed every year from now until 2022.  In the USA it’s predicted, by the US Energy Information Administration, that nearly a quarter (23%) of electrical customers now have smart meters.

Closer to home, in Ireland, there was a large-scale trial of smart metering which aimed to achieve a 2% decrease in energy usage as well as to assess the response of customers to this new technology. Following the success of this trial, the Commission of Energy Regulation announced the approval to rollout smart meters between 2014 and 2019.

In the UK, in addition to the work being done by British Gas, there is also a trial by Northern Powergrid which has implemented a “Customer-Led Network Revolution”.  This involves trailing a number of smart grid solutions and energy efficient technologies such as solar PV panels, heat pumps, electric vehicles and the installation of 14,000 smart meters in the North East and Yorkshire.

The programme will also deploy new technology on the electricity network and implement commercial solutions such as tariffs and different pricing structures. Northern Powergrid aims to create a successful and beneficial smart grid solution and is trialing ‘time-of-use’ tariffs to encourage the use of electricity during off peak periods.

You can find out more about smart meters in this video from British Gas and via their dedicated web site.

We are working with British Gas on a smart meter campaign. The words and opinions above are ours, however this should be considered a ‘sponsored post’.

Update: Living with British Gas Smart Meters

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We’ve already given away a digital camera as part of our collaboration with the folks at British Gas, who are looking to raise awareness and uptake of their smart meters. This week we’re going to take a look at the ‘journey so far’ and share some additional information about why this technology represents the future.

As part our work with British Gas, I had two smart meters installed at home earlier this year. In addition to the aforementioned benefits of not having to manually take and send readings, the other key benefit of smart meters is the improved visibility of how much energy you are consuming. This is possible thanks to a nifty energy monitor which wirelessly communicates with your meters and gives you a history of your energy usage as well as the cost.

It’s quite entertaining (and, of course, informative) to watch the monitor change as you turn on a kettle, or hit the standby button on your slightly-bigger-than-needed TV. You end up running around the house trying to work out what’s using electricity – which I guess is the point! Admittedly the novelty of this does wear off after a while but then you start to use it differently, for example comparing usage month to month.

British Gas have produced the following interactive infographic which takes a look at energy consumption:

Perhaps it’s because I’m a geek at heart, but ultimately I have the opinion that you can’t have too information when it comes to how much you are being charged for services such as gas, electricity and your phone. With the latter of those, I’ve always opted for itemised bills, simply because I don’t like to have any grey areas when it comes to why my bill was X amount. The roll out of Smart Meters is a step in the right direction for bringing clarity to your energy bills. British Gas have released this slick video which aims to highlight the benefits:

You can also find out more information on the firm’s smart meters page.

 

We are working with British Gas on a smart meter campaign. The words and opinions above are ours, however this should be considered a ‘sponsored post’.

Win a Kodak EasyShare camera courtesy of British Gas

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What’s the deal?

We’ve teamed up with the folks at British Gas to look at how they’re introducing Smart Meters to their customers. This comes off the back of a recent EU directive which set the ambitious target of having smart metering systems in 80% of UK households by 2020. British Gas are seen as leading the way in rolling out smart meters and they are working with blogs like ours to help raise awareness of the benefits of this ‘smart future’.

So, what does a Smart Meter do?

Smart meters replace current gas and electricity meters. British Gas are doing this upgrade free of charge. In addition to the new meters you’ll also get a smart energy monitor (that can easily be placed in a kitchen or dining room) which shows your energy use in pounds and pence. Readings from the smart meters are automatically sent to British Gas, which means you don’t have to submit your meter readings – avoiding the sometimes back breaking task of getting under the stairs with a torch! It also brings to an end the era of estimated bills. British Gas uses the consumption readings to provide you with a full array of clever insights into your consumption, including personalised energy efficiency advice.

You can find out more about the technology via their microsite and this YouTube video:

What are the other benefits of these new meters?

In addition to eliminating estimated bills and giving customers highly accurate usage information, the roll out is also going to benefit the UK economy too, as summed up nicely in this infographic:

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Did you mention a competition?

Yes, well remembered! To celebrate the launch of this campaign, British Gas have kindly provided us with a Kodak EasyShare Sports camera, which has 12 Megapixels fixed focus lens, a 2.4” (6.1 cm) LCD, and also captures video… and can go almost anywhere since it’s also waterproof (3 m/10 ft) and dustproof!

To enter, just visit our Competwition page here!

Want to register your interest in getting a free Smart Meter upgrade?

Great stuff, British Gas have a dedicated page for this – here

British Gas to roll out ‘Smart Meters’ to all homes by 2019

Like us, you’re probably well acquainted with the process of grappling around under your stairs (or some other inaccessible place) with a torch, trying to decipher your gas meter in the vain hope of getting a reading. Well, we’ve got some good news – British Gas have announced plans to provide ‘Smart Meters’ in all homes by 2019. In fact, they’ve already started the roll out with over 160,000 homes now hooked up.

So, what is a Smart Meter? Well, it look pretty similar and will still be in a tucked away place, but now it will effectively reads itself! This new meter will communicate to an in-home display unit (aka ‘Smart Energy Monitor’), giving you an instant view of your energy consumption – both for gas and electricity. Another great thing is that British Gas, as part of the government’s plan to get all homes on smart meters, are installing their system for free.

The monitor will display, in near-real time, information about your energy usage (kWh), CO2 emissions as well as how much you’ve spent. It will also keep historical usage data so you can check how you’re consumption is changing over time. The meter will automatically transmit meter readings back to British Gas once a day, which (thankfully!) means the end of those fiddly meter readings and also, perhaps more importantly, the end of estimated bills.

Another interesting benefit of getting homes on to smart meters, is that it enables energy suppliers to monitor the amount of electricity being distributed and can therefore proactively manage their supply grids. This should enable them to automatically re-route power, monitor network assets and generally become more efficient.

You can find out more about the British Gas Smart Meters on their British Gas Smart Meter page.

They have also outlined their ‘Smart Vision’ in this YouTube video:

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