Laundry Care: Blue Monday Moves to the Weekend, Free Weekend Energy and Changing Lifestyle Patterns

The introduction of smart meters in the UK market is gathering pace and July 2016 brought with it the first company led advertising around the subject. The UK’s leading energy provider, British Gas, is now promoting “free time tariffs” for households that switch, agree to install a smart meter and commit to one of a range of fixed-term contracts. As part of the offer, households can benefit from free energy between 9am and 5pm on either a Saturday or a Sunday until March 2018.

Free leci

Source: Briitish Gas Plc

New consumerism

While the offer ends in 2018, it raises some interesting questions surrounding how smart meters might affect consumer behaviour and lifestyles, especially as it relates to “appliance-centric” activities such as laundry or dishwashing. A recent Euromonitor International global briefing “New Consumerism and Sharing: Future Power – the Smart Meter Revolution” focussed on the use of smart meters to even out daily demand cycles through the use of dynamic energy pricing. Lower demand and lower prices for energy at night are likely to push consumers into doing more laundry during antisocial hours, the current focus for quiet (low-decibel) appliances appears to dovetail nicely with this new environment.

UK smart meter roll out

Note: Image taken from Euromonitor global briefing ‘New Consumerism and Sharing: Future Power – the Smart Meter Revolution

With industrial demand for energy tailing off at the weekend as factories shut down, the regulation of energy demands on a weekly basis is also an interesting consideration. As discussed in the global briefing, it is incredibly expensive to bring power stations on and off line – coal-powered stations aren’t designed for it and even modern gas stations struggle, there being no guarantee that a station can be brought back on line when required. With the industry looking to even out demand both on a daily and now apparently on a weekly basis there could well be implications for domestic life.

UK demand profile

Note: Image taken from Euromonitor global briefing ‘New Consumerism and Sharing: Future Power – the Smart Meter Revolution

Leave it to the weekend?

Cheaper, even free, energy at the weekends could well perhaps encourage a return to the washday, a return to Blue Monday, a reference to Monday as a washday, which was common until washing machines became widely used in homes. Rather than washing regularly through the week, dynamic weekly pricing could push the weekend cleaning binge into being the norm. Thinking more broadly, this could well have a knock-on effect on the kind of appliances consumers are looking for – larger-capacity machines to take care of the mountain of clothes accumulated during the week, for example. In addition, for the apparel industry, if households are more commonly doing all the laundry in one go, will there be demand for a weekly wardrobe, enough clothing to last a full week?

In the context of dishwashing, would households be willing to let an entire week’s worth of dishes pile up before using the dishwashing machine? Kitchenware makers could benefit from this trend – offering larger crockery and utensil sets for households that may be tempted to move from a daily to a weekly cycle of dishwashing.

The thought of mountains of washing will definitely be a turn-off for many households, but, for others, the idea of efficiency, money saving and, let’s face it, a brilliant excuse to leave it to the weekend, might be too tempting an offer – thank you, smart meters.