Energy efficiency could deliver 22 percent savings on household fuel bills in Europe


London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — October 16, 2007 – Energy consumers in Europe believe they could save around 22 percent of their energy bills through more efficient behavior, adding up to a total of €27 billion per year – and smart meters sound like a good idea to help them do so, according to a new study in 10 countries from IT and business services company LogicaCMG.

Just over two-thirds of the European consumers claimed to do a lot to reduce their energy consumption at home, while three quarters (75%) made a direct link between climate change and their individual action to save energy.

However, there appears to be a gap between perceived and real actions, with the consumers – in reality – only undertaking on average fewer than two out of six key energy behaviors, including cutting down on heating and/or air conditioning, cutting down on lighting and/or domestic appliances, using their cars less, taking initiatives to save energy at work, changing their car to another one that uses less fuel, and using public transport more.

But it appears that better information and appropriate technology can help to close this gap. Almost two-thirds of consumers said that they would actively reduce energy consumption if they were more aware of their energy use at any moment in time, and three-quarters felt that smart meters, as a technology that can help to provide such information, sound like a good idea.

Conversely, almost half of the consumers said that they limit their energy saving behavior because they have no idea how much energy they are using.

Support for smart meters was found to be highest in Sweden (90 percent) and lowest in Portugal (45 percent), and overall support was also highest among younger, higher income males – a consumer group that is also clearly motivated by environmental concerns. This suggests that this group could be early adopters of smart meters and that the technology could be seen as aspirational.

The study says that given the strong link between desire for information and willingness to reduce consumption if consumers were more aware of their energy use, smart meters, seen as a way of getting relevant and actionable information, may therefore represent an efficient way of overcoming one of the main barriers to more energy efficient behaviors. Such widespread desire for more information on actual usage should help hasten the
rollout of smart metering in Europe, says the study.

Moreover, while the initial cost of having a smart meter installed could potentially be a dissuading factor, especially in the less affluent countries, a role is seen for the respective governments to incentivize the adoption of such technologies.

Commenting on the report, Jim Tapper, managing director for global energy and utilities, LogicaCMG, said that the need to change consumer behavior is a cornerstone of energy policy and legislation across the world. “The positive message from this new survey is that it seems that consumers will change behavior if they are presented with clear information about how much money and energy they can save and technology that is easy to use.”

The survey involved 1,000 individuals per country and was conducted telephonically by Future Foundation and TNS UK on behalf of LogicaCMG. The ten countries included in the survey were Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands and Sweden.