I was buzzing when I left the British Gas head office in Staines on Monday – and no, I hadn’t been poking around in any strange cupboards (British Gas also happens to be the UK’s largest supplier of electricity).
I was invited along with fellow British Gas Smart Mums ambassador Karen of the Rubbish Diet blog and Susanna of BritMums to find out how British Gas is driving innovation in energy technology to transform the way we live.
Big changes are happening at British Gas and the mood is high.
I wouldn’t say employees are high-fiving each other along the corridors exactly, but the positive vibe at HQ is palpable.
We met Jacqueline Epifanie, Head of Marketing Smart Homes, who told us, ‘We’re evolving from being a traditional utility supplier into a holistic energy services provider that’s shaping the future of energy in the British homes.’
First, we headed to the ‘smart labs’ to get to grips with Smart Meters.
So far British Gas has installed more than 400,000 smart meters to its customers, way ahead of the government’s scheduled national roll-out by 2019.
The Smart Meter package includes the meter itself (the brains) and the Smart Energy Monitor (the pretty face) that clearly shows you how much gas and electricity you’re using in pounds, pence and kilowatts.
What’s cool is that the touch-screen monitor allows you to track your usage history and set your own energy budget to control how much you spend. All readings go automatically to British Gas by GPRS, so no more nasty surprises on your bill!
Jacqueline did point out that ‘the smart meter is only as smart as the person using it’ but I’d say it’s fairly user-intuitive, even if you’re not tech savvy.
And smart meters are far from the only trick up the company’s sleeves.
A Smarter Way of Life
We got a sneak preview of the British Gas stand at the Ideal Home Show coming up in March.
Essentially, British Gas is putting the power back in its customers’ hands through a range of devices that allow you to wirelessly control your home security (e.g. smoke detectors, door and window motion sensors) and heating systems via Internet, smartphone app or even SMS.
Just imagine: you’re on your way back from holiday and rather than coming back to a cold flat, you simply text your heating to switch itself on!
How very Bond.
Visitors to the Ideal Home Show will also experience a life-size model of a car powered by British Gas!
That’s right, British Gas is en route to becoming the largest provider of charging solutions for electric vehicles in homes, businesses and streets across the country.
It might seem like a strange match (what next, we joked, a BG fashion line?) but with more than 11,000 electrical engineers nationwide to do the installing, it’s a natural fit for the company.
The company owns 2 electric pool cars, plugged into charging points being powered by solar roof panels!
On our exit, Karen, Susanna and I were taken on a spin in the BG-branded Nissan Leaf. It’s one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever been in, no engine sound, all you can hear is the road beneath you.
Thanks to British Gas for turning what had seemed like a scarily packed agenda (truly energy efficient, not a minute spare!) into a fun and informative day that left me not only buzzing, as I mentioned, but feeling a whole lot smarter too.
British Gas is at the Ideal Home Show from March 16 to April 1