Smart Living? It's All About Simplicity
Smart Living? It's All About Simplicity

Smart living is all the rage. But if you’re in search of the smartest solutions, don’t look for space age makeovers or complexity … look for simplicity. You’ll find it in a humble smart meter.


Smart living is one of the buzz phrases of our times. But what exactly is a smart home? You might imagine it’s a futuristic, space age home with robot servants, a kitchen that chops up onions and potatoes and does the cooking for you, and a fridge that messages you at work and tells you when you need to stock up on eggs and beer.


Weirdly enough, some of those things are already on the market (at an eye-watering price in most cases). But the most important single device on the journey to smart living is more mundane and less eye-catching than you’d imagine. It’s a simple smart meter.


Smart meters are quietly transforming homes around the world without making them look any different. Their global penetration rate is predicted to rise from just over 40% in 2019 to almost 60% by 2028, according to a US study, and in Hong Kong, they are gradually becoming ubiquitous. Almost invisible but ubiquitous all the same.


CLP began rolling out smart meters in 2018 with the aim of installing the devices for all of its 2.65 million customers by 2025. By the end of last September, more than 670,000 smart meters were in operation, setting off a smart living revolution in homes around the city.


The advantages of smart meters are not immediately obvious but they are immense. While traditional electricity meters simply give a reading of the user’s energy consumption data, smart meters give insights on customers’ usage on a much more granular level, opening the door to a realm of new possibilities in energy-saving and the application of digital technology.


They not only capture electricity use in fine detail but can also track voltage and detect outages, benefitting customers, power companies, and society at large. They allow individuals and businesses to manage their power consumption effectively, contributing to a greener environment, and allow power companies to improve their products and services as well as provide a more reliable power supply. That’s precisely why they’re so smart.

Traditional meter
A traditional meter only provides monthly consumption data.
Smart meters
Smart meters automatically track energy usage at more frequent intervals.

“Smart meters record electricity consumption automatically at 30-minute intervals. Customers can view their hourly and daily electricity usage information timely,” says CLP Senior Smart Meter and Residential Market Development Manager Henry Leung. “This data provides important insights for them, helping them understand their energy consumption patterns so they can more efficiently manage their energy use.” 

Electricity consumption patterns

The data can be viewed through CLP’s mobile app and website as well as downloaded through the website, so that customers can forecast, plan, and adjust their usage. They can also receive mobile notifications about power outages and spikes in their energy use.

New services for smart meter users:
  • Receive power outage notifications
  • Get alerts for comparative consumptions spikes
  • Streamline move-in and move-out processes

Smart meters also improve the operational capabilities of power companies. For instance, they instantly identify outages in remote areas during typhoons, enabling power companies to rapidly deploy resources to handle those incidents.


Information provided by smart meters on the quantity and quality of electricity means power companies can better understand the condition of their networks, helping them to improve supply reliability. The information also allows both the customers and the power companies to know more about the details of electricity consumption, thereby enhancing their communication and mutual understanding, and giving the companies the opportunity to better address their customers’ needs.


“Smart meters improve our ability to provide better products and services,” Leung explains. That is why the process of upgrading every customer from a traditional to a smart meter is a milestone development in Hong Kong’s transformation into a smart city.

Improving lives with technology

As well as installing smart meters across Hong Kong, CLP has launched a series of initiatives to promote smart homes in the city. They include the launch of the Smart Shopping Platform to make smart living more accessible in 2017. The platform now offers more than 1,000 electrical appliances, many of which include smart functions.


“Digitalisation is becoming more prevalent in everyday life, and we want to be there for our customers as they embrace the digital future,” says CLP’s Smart Home and E-Commerce Manager Gary Chiang.


Howz – a monitoring system for older people who live alone – is an example of the cutting-edge technology available on the Smart Shopping Platform. It offers peace of mind for users and their loved ones by detecting and reporting abnormalities in elderly people’s daily routines.

The Howz smart monitoring device (pictured here) watches out for anything unusual in the daily routines of elderly people living alone, offering peace of mind to them and their loved ones.

The ingenious monitoring device was developed by a UK start-up and was brought to Hong Kong by CLP through the global energy start-up accelerator programme Free Electrons.

“Hong Kong, much like the UK, shares the problem with its ageing population,” says Howz Chief Operating Officer Louise Rogerson. “The purpose of having a smart home, for me personally, is to look after older family members and care for them more efficiently. I think there is a real opportunity to help people who are not as physically independent.”

Rogerson says the global adoption of smart home devices has not been as widespread as anticipated so far, something she attributes to people’s misunderstanding of smart devices as gimmicky products rather than inventions that can bring real benefits. 


However, she is hopeful the smart home market will grow, and says she has noticed a gradual shift in perceptions. “More and more consumers are purchasing things that have more concrete purposes,” Rogerson says. “With more information being put out every day, I think people are beginning to see the benefits of smart homes.”


And the biggest benefit of all? Simply that smart homes make life simpler for us all.