Energy giant Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) has unveiled a new energy tariff that offers customers a free energy monitor and online tools to help monitor electricity use.
The company – which supplies gas and electricity under the Southern Electric, SWALEC, Scottish Hydro and Atlantic brands – says the new tariff will deliver ‘smart’ energy features to customers. These include tracking their energy usage and providing real time and historic information to help them change the way they use energy.
Free energy monitor
Customers who sign up for iplan will receive an energy monitor with a number of special features. Two of the most useful are likely to be ‘Target Track’, which allows users to set their own energy target and monitor their actual use against this, and a ‘Max Alert’ function to tell people when they’re using more energy than normal.
Also included with iplan is a set of online tools to help customers estimate their energy costs, monitor their energy use across different periods and see how their energy use compares with similar households. Users will also be able to receive tailored energy-saving tips based on their own household and lifestyle.
Energy monitors are simple handheld gadgets that give you a good estimate of the amount of electricity you are using in real-time. These are widely available on the high street and you can install them yourself.
To find out which energy monitors we rate as Best Buys, see our energy monitors review. You can also take our energy monitors quiz and watch our energy monitors video guide to see if an energy monitor could help you cut your bills.
Not the cheapest
Which? energy expert James Tallack says: ‘SSE says iplan costs the same as its standard energy tariffs. However, standard tariffs are among the most expensive energy deals around.
‘For an average household in the East Midlands, iplan with Southern Electric would cost £1,087 a year, compared to £949 on Southern Electric’s Go Direct 5 online tariff (a saving of £138). At £865, Eon’s SaveOnline 3 is even cheaper. Use our free switching service, Which? Switch, to easily compare tariffs from all the suppliers.’
Lower energy costs
SSE’s Energy Supply Director Alistair Phillips-Davies said: ‘The development of new products is central to success in Britain’s competitive energy supply market. The iplan will transform the amount of information that customers have about their energy consumption, by giving them a user-friendly presentation of energy data at their individual level.
‘By seeing what energy they’re using in real time, people will have the means to manage their energy consumption more effectively, helping to lower their energy costs. It allows people to start on a smart energy journey well before the installation of smart meters.’
Smart meter confusion
The iplan energy monitor only measures your electricity use – to get this kind of information about your gas consumption, by far the biggest share of most household’s energy costs, you’ll have to wait for smart meters to be rolled out.
If you – like one in three Which? members – don’t understand the difference between energy monitors and smart meters, see our video guide to energy monitors and smart meters. We’ve also .
Lower your gas and electricity bills
You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.
Which? RSS and Twitter news feeds
For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? consumer news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/news.xml into your newsreader.
Follow @WhichNews on Twitter for the latest news, or @WhichAction to see how we’re campaigning for consumers.