Richard Ord: How our smart meter landed us in hot water

The Thinker - Rodin
The Thinker - Rodin

We have had a smart meter installed in our home. It’s apt, considering it is the start of GCSE exams for our Bradley.

The smart meter doesn’t measure intelligence, of course, but is connected to the gas and electricity supply to show much energy you are using in real time. There’s a digital indicator on a monitor screen revealing how much cash it’s all costing you.

As soon as a kettle goes on, the screen glows red and you see the cash flow situation.

It lasted three days before the ensuing arguments over energy waste consigned the monitor to the spare room.

Rather than making our household energy efficient, it caused ructions with the kids.

Our Bradley, 16, was first to hit out. Amusingly, his outburst revealed the fibs my wife spouts to get him out of the shower in the morning.

“I thought you said it cost a pound a minute,” he said, studying the digital read-out. “It’s nowhere near that much.”

His brother, Isaac, 13, added: “Yeah, you told us to think of every drop of water coming out of the shower as a penny down the plughole.”

I like the cut of her jib.

There’s nothing more relaxing than a nice hot bath. Thing is, when running the bath, the smart meter would glow red again, clocking up the pounds and pence. Seeing the cost got me agitated. The bath was nice and hot, but, thinking of the whirring smart meter, I couldn’t relax.

If the smart meter did measure how smart you were, it would barely flicker in our house at the moment.

Our Isaac asked me about wind turbines the other day.

I told him how they generate electricity.

“Does the electricity they generate make the giant fan turn round?” he asked.

I got the distinct impression he thought wind turbines were powered up to produce wind, rather than powered by the wind!

At school, our Isaac is happy to slip under the radar. He told his brother that out of the 190 children in his year, he’d be aiming to finish “slap bang in the middle.”

A distinctly uninspiring ambition, but made slightly more ambitious by his next line.

“Yep, 90th would do me.”

His brother sighed: “Don’t you mean 95th? That would slap bang in the middle.”

Isaac does make me laugh.

He’s not short of confidence. At school, he’s signed up to take Philosophy Studies next year.

I’m sure he’s done it just to keep his mother happy. I say that, because, one: I know his mother pleaded with him to do a subject that would stretch him (I also believe some financial inducement may have been involved). And two: because he can’t pronounce Philosophy. He refers to is at Phisolophy. I don’t know, maybe all great philosophers had trouble with their pronunciations. Plato for all I know was actually called Peter. He was just poor at pronunciation.

Like I say, a true Smart Meter would be flatlining in the Ord household today.