Back in 2008, the Energy Act was passed in parliament, beginning the smart meter roll out in the United Kingdom. This started with the roll out of the “SMETS1” meter – devices that would often vary per energy provider and required refitting should you change energy provider (this is not for discussion now – but this issue was largely due to ambitious targets being set by the government, and greedy corporations). Most smart meters fitted today however are of the “SMETS2” type – allowing for interoperability between different energy providers – making it easy for anyone to switch without even so much of a meter reading.
Each of these smart meters works by reading the gas and electrical usage reporting this directly via the GSM network to a central provider (DCC). From there – each of the energy companies subscribes to your meters “feed” and produces bills as usual. Should you have two meters, one is normally the “master” (typically the electrical meter, as its powered), with the additional meter sending readings over a closed network for reporting.
In addition to this many energy meters come with an in home display (”IHD” for short) that shows the user exactly how much energy they’re using – and how much it’s costing. These IHDs can vary depending on who fits your smart meter, whether this is a SMETS1 or SMETS2 (although all companies should now, by law be fitting a SMETS2 meter).
The problems accessing your smart meter data
So you would think it would be easy to get this reading from the IHD to your Home Assistant installation right? Wrong. These devices all operate on their own closed network. Based off the Zigbee standard, the “master” meter acts as the co-ordinator, meaning that without the digital keys to access the network, you cannot access the data at all.
However – there are some work arounds. Many energy providers are beginning to make this data available to their customers via APIs (some officially, some unofficially). I know with my energy company Octopus I can pull this data (along with Bulb, British Gas and some others). However, with how often users switch energy company in the UK now, do you really want to be locked into one company just because you want their data?
This is where DCC comes in. DCC control all of the smart meter data in the UK – and there is a very easy way to access this for us in your Home Assistant.
Accessing your smart meter data
- Setting up an account – First you’ll need to setup an account with the only DCC authorised agent, “Glow”. There is no easy way to do this on desktop – so you’ll need to download the “Bright” app for either iOS or Android. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go through the signup process (you’ll need your details) and provide your meter details from your IHD. You should start seeing readings appear instantly in the app.
- Setup the Home Assistant Integration – The plugin I recommend is HandyHat’s integration available on GitHub. You can follow his instructions for automated installation via HACS, but I prefer the manual method, so download the files and drop them in your config directory (I recommend using the Samba plugin to achieve this).
- Setup the integration – Here’s the easy bit – create a new integration and select the “Hildebrand Glow (DCC)” integration, enter your glow details from step 1 – and your energy usage should now be available in Home Assistant!
Setting up your energy in Home Assistant is just one way to get started with better energy monitoring – and will allow you to track your energy usage over time alongside the rest of your smart devices and weather. I’m using this to help me understand how much we use – and its a great help it logs this for the longer term so I can see trends!
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