27 March 2019 Metering

Energy supplier pairs with Amazon Alexa on smart time-of-use tariff

Amazon Alexa

Smart meter owners are now able to use Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, to help control their energy usage, cut carbon emissions, and save even more money on their bills.

UK supplier, Octopus Energy, has announced a partnership with Amazon by pairing Agile Octopus, Britain’s only ‘smart’ time-of-use tariff, with the tech-giant’s Alexa app, making it the first energy company to combine real-time energy pricing with voice automation.

Agile Octopus works by collecting smart meter data and offering customers access to half-hourly energy prices (which are tied to real-time wholesale prices). Therefore, when wholesale prices drop, so do customers’ bills – which is especially convenient if they can schedule electricity usage outside of peak times.

Agile Octopus customers can also opt in to receive text alerts whenever prices drop below zero (at periods when electricity generation in the UK outstrips demand), during which time they will actually be paid to use energy.

Now, smart meter owners who sign up to the Agile Octopus tariff can use Amazon’s voice automated assistant to get even greater clarity of their energy consumption.

‘Alexa, when is electricity the cheapest today?’

By asking Alexa questions about their energy usage, such as when their electricity will be at its cheapest or its most expensive, customers will be better informed about when they want to schedule heavy energy consumption, such as charging an electric car.

They can also ask what the current electricity price is, what it was at a specific time, as well as what their own electricity consumption was for the day, the week or month before.

To be eligible to access the Agile time-of-use tariff, customers must have a Secure brand smart electricity meter. The tariff is also only available for electricity prices and not gas, as they tend not to vary throughout the day.

Initially launched in February 2018, Agile was introduced by Octopus to encourage consumers to modify their energy usage and consume more of their electricity and gas at off peak times. According to the supplier, this can save customers up to £229 annually when compared with the average standard variable tariff.

Smart homes fundamental to decarbonisation

In December, Octopus also integrated Agile with platform ‘If This Then That’, which allows users to link various devices and apps together to automate energy usage. This means users can automatically turn on their smart home technology when electricity is at its cheapest.

By linking with intelligent devices, including smart plugs and appliances such as Hive, Tado and Philips Hue, customers can optimise their homes by automatically adjusting their energy usage based on the half-hourly energy price changes.

Greg Jackson, chief executive of Octopus, said: “Our integration with Amazon Alexa lets customers interact with their energy in an entirely new way. By integrating with a service used by millions, we hope to popularise the energy efficient smart homes needed sustainable future and save customers money in the process.

“Smart homes are fundamental to the transition to a carbon free energy system. By ensuring consumers see energy consumption as dynamic, and in providing the right technology, we aim to reimagine how people think about how they use energy.”

SMS partners with Octopus on smart meter installation

In January 2019, SMS Plc signed a signed a meter rental agreement with Octopus Energy to supply a minimum of 200,000 new SMETS2 smart meters for Octopus customers.

Alan Foy, CEO of SMS Plc, commented on the deal: “We are delighted to be working with Octopus Energy, a supplier of 100% green electricity. Octopus Energy is backed by the Octopus Group, which is a large investor in renewable generation internationally and the United Kingdom’s largest investor in solar power. SMS, like Octopus Energy, are committed to leading the smart energy revolution and SMS looks forward to bringing the benefits of smart meters to Octopus Energy’s customers”.

SMS has been at the heart of the UK energy market for over two decades. Today, we are playing a critical role in transforming and decarbonising the UK energy system through our smart metering and energy services. Find out more.