Confusing landscape for U.K. energy consumers, study finds


Chris Saunders,
CEO, Navetas
Energy Management
Ipswich, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — September 21, 2011 – The U.K.’s energy providers are falling short in providing energy efficiency initiatives that meet consumer demands and failing to educate on the money saving benefits of the smart meter rollout, according to a new study from Navetas Energy Management.

Further, the energy landscape is confused, with the approaches to energy monitoring from energy providers varying widely, making it difficult for consumers to make informed choices when trying to reduce their energy consumption.  

The report, Time for smarter thinking, finds that 96 percent of British adults are concerned about energy prices and 88 percent want to better understand how they are using energy and would value information at an appliance level. However, consumers appear to be presented with a confusing minefield of often contradicting information, with little tangible evidence of effective energy saving initiatives that will help them reduce their energy consumption and save money
When it comes to smart meters energy providers are largely united in the key benefits to the consumer: no more estimated readings, to ensure accurate billing, and the ability to manage energy more effectively to make savings. However, across the websites, email communication and telephone calls, the energy providers are vague about the tangible benefits to consumers, focusing more on the rollout schedule and top-line benefits. According to the report the exception is British Gas, who was the only energy provider to put a figure against the savings that smart meters could give consumers: 10 percent.

The most disappointing aspect, according to the report, was the telephone conversations with customer service representatives regarding smart meters. Teams demonstrated a lack of detailed knowledge when quizzed about smart meters and the benefits, with some not knowing even whether the company was installing smart meters or not.
“The U.K. energy industry is entering a challenging phase, with strict carbon reduction targets, implementation of the smart grid and an £11.7 billion smart meter rollout,” said Chris Saunders, CEO at Navetas Energy Management. “It’s time for energy providers to find new coherent and purpose-driven ways of motivating and engaging consumers in their bids to become energy efficient.”

The study assessed ten of the U.K.’s energy providers – the “Big Six”, i.e. British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power, and Scottish & Southern Electric (studied using Southern Electric), and specialist providers First Utility, Co-operative Energy, Good Energy, and Ecotricity.