U.K. consumers moderately interested in smart meters


Philip Sellwood,
Chief Executive,
Energy Saving Trust
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — March 18, 2008 – Almost half of U.K. energy consumers say they are interested in having a smart meter installed in their home and almost all of these consumers said they would use the meter to help reduce their energy costs and would take actions such as turning TVs and computers off at the plug, turning heating thermostats down and turning lights off when not in a room.

These are among the findings of a new survey involving more than 1,200 consumers across the nation by the environmental body, the Energy Saving Trust.

The survey found that the main smart benefit that appeals to consumers, quoted by just over half, is the ability to get accurate bills by paying for actual, rather than estimated, usage. Around a third quoted as appealing benefits the absence of manual reads and the ability to receive accurate advice from their supplier from an analysis of exact usage, while just over a quarter quoted visual tracking of usage trends. The least appealing benefit, quoted by 21 percent, is the use of smart meters in helping to manage load in times of exceptional strain on the national grid, for example by sending out text messages advising when best to use appliances.

The least interest in smart meters was also noted in Northern Ireland, with only 20 percent of respondents interested in having a smart meter installed in their homes, compared with 50 percent in Scotland, 47 percent in England and 45 percent in Wales.

The survey formed part of the Energy Saving Trust’s “green barometer”, which periodically assesses attitudes towards doing something to help the environment, and this new Green Barometer revealed that there has been a slight increase in attitudes, except in Wales where there was a drop in attitudes. There has also been an increase in actions taken to help the environment, which is attributed to the increased number of boiler installations over the winter months as well as an increase in the use of energy saving light bulbs.

The survey also revealed that more than 80 percent of the consumers were not aware what tariffs they are paying for electricity and gas and that around a third found their energy bill not easy to understand – twice as hard as phone bills and four times as difficult as bank and credit card statements.

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said that the lack of transparency surrounding energy usage is one of the biggest problems holding back the U.K.’s fight against climate change.

“Trials across the world have demonstrated that smart meters can achieve between a five and ten percent reduction in carbon emissions. If the UK really has aspirations to be a world leader in the fight against climate change, then smart meters have to be part of the solution,” said Sellwood.

The Energy Saving Trust has estimated, based on savings of five percent, that if everyone in the U.K. switched to smart meters British householders could save £1.2 billion a year and the equivalent of 7.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The Energy Saving Trust is a non-profit organisation addressing the damaging effects of climate change and aiming to cut CO2 emissions by promoting the sustainable and efficient use of energy.