Curious for how our Smappee-users get the best out of their Smappee in their own unique everyday life, we asked some particular users to share their experiences with us. Today we spoke to Karl Graves, a very young 44 year old man who lives with his wife, two children and their cat in the middle of England. By day, he’s the head-brewer at a successful midlands brewery. But, when the night falls, he transforms into an electricity-saving vigilante. He kindly asked us to note, however, that he does not have a costume or cape :-) Are you also curious for what Karls’ Smappee means to him?

When did you decide to do something about your family’s energy consumption?
Our house was built in the early 1920’s. Like many houses in the UK, it is old and inefficiently designed. Having battled through many winters and experienced huge energy bills for both space heating and electricity, we decided to improve the insulation levels as well as reduce our electricity usage.

I decided to take daily readings of our electricity usage for a year, with an eye to fitting solar panels with battery storage in the near future and to also give us an accurate picture of usage. After three months of taking meter readings at the same time every day I discovered Smappee :)

So you were already trying to get a hold of your energy consumption when you discovered Smappee. How did the Smappee monitor change your energy readings?
I can now easily take my daily readings, to two decimal points, from the app and if I miss some they are easy to find in the annual / monthly graphs. I was interested to see how accurate Smappee was. So when my first month was recorded, I compared it to my meter. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the readings were within 0.5% of each other. I felt like: “Well done guys!”

Smappee is a monitor that provides you with accurate energy readings. But of course, that doesn’t mean that it automatically produces savings on its own. Something needs to be done. What did you do to start saving energy?
Well, you need to get the read and interpret the data of course. So if you use your Smappee correctly,  that is as a tool to monitor and analyse, and in conjunction with the appropriate changes to appliances or to habits, then savings can clearly be made. It quickly became apparent that the biggest users of electricity in our house were halogen GU10 lamps and heating elements in our cooker, dishwasher and washing machine. Two months of smappee use confirmed this so, over several months we swopped the GU10’s to LED lamps, swopped other compact fluorescent lamps to LED and when our very old dishwasher and washing machine both failed within a month of each other they were replaced with A+++ appliances.

I have also employed the Comfort Plug that came with Smappee on an external DAC (digital to analogue converter) that fits on our hifi system and which draws 12 watts and doesn’t have an off switch! This is set on a timer via the app to turn on and off at specific times and so far has been pretty reliable, only losing contact with the main unit once over 9 months.

On top of all of this, our children are helping out by only boiling enough water, shutting the fridge door properly, shouting at their parents when they leave lights on and turning lights off themselves, when they remember!

There’s one thing everyone is probably eager to know: could you put a number on your savings?
Well, March 2016 was the date when all the above things had been put into place and had been running for at least one month. So from March 2106 through to August 2016, we are seeing savings when compared to 2015 of between 20% to 25% on our electricity bill!

Appliance recognitionSmappee wants to optimally suit its customers needs . Therefore, we want you to be as honest as can be! So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty part! What’s it like to live with a Smappee and, for you personally, what could be improved?
Well, it’s a pretty robust device which just sits in the corner of our front room and pulses with a lovely green glow. There have been a couple of outages since I have owned it, but all were resolved very quickly. Smappees’ support was just excellent. The web and mobile apps are easy to use and highly addictive. I’ve basically spent more time watching Smappee than watching TV and have even, on occasion been watching what is going on at home while I am at work!

Identification of individual appliances is solid but if possible could be improved. I frequently see perhaps only 75% of total usage split down to individual appliances and our house doesn’t have a lot of electrical signatures. Smappee’s biggest struggle in our house is with heating elements. It finds it hard to separate the dishwasher, washing machine and cooking elements so in the end I have labelled the one appliance as heating element and then have to use detective work to figure out which appliance was on. It’s not ideal but it just about works.

You have a point there, indeed. A kettle, stove, dishwasher … They all have a heating element. If they use the same kind of heating element, smappee has difficulties to recognize the different appliances. Smappee could think they’re the same appliance. An option is to delete the incorrect devices and give Smappee the chance to learn similar (but not identical) electrical signatures all over.

But, all together, you’ve managed to save between 20% and 25% on your energy bill, and the app has even sparked a slight addiction to the monitoring process. To us, that is of course nothing but good news! So let’s pop the big question: would you recommand a Smappee to your friends and family?
My parents have recently had a smart meter fitted and it was interesting to compare their unit to our Smappee. Whilst some of the data were similar, there is no disaggregation and their smart meter has no web portal. So it’s not as user-friendly as Smappee. So: yes, I would certainly recommend it to family and friends!