Survey reveals differences between UK and US attitudes to energy management


Karl Wills,
Abacus Billing
Reading, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — October 10, 2007 – A survey conducted by Abacus Billing, a provider of smart meter billing, managed services and billing information applications, has revealed that a worrying 94% of US consumers believe the federal government is failing to encourage households to become energy efficient, despite heightened environmental concerns.

The survey of 200 consumers was conducted by Abacus Billing in July 2007 in the U.S. East Coast (Boston and New York) and in London, U.K., highlighting a number of key differences between U.S. and U.K. attitudes to energy efficiency. U.K. consumers are unhappy at the extent of government measures to combat inefficiencies, but in fewer number than in the U.S., with 79% of U.K. respondents believing their government needs to do more to encourage energy efficiency.

Americans chose cost as their greatest concern over energy inefficiencies (49%), whereas 68% of Britons claimed to be more interested in the possible environmental impact. Britons are, however, far less well informed when it comes to smart metering, with nearly three quarters of households admitting to having never heard of the technology. Almost half of American households (49%) are aware of smart meters, with 15% saying they know what smart meters are and how they work. This contrasts with just 26% of British consumers claiming to even know what a smart meter is, while just 13% understand how they work.

The U.S. survey also found that consumers want to have as much transparency from their utility suppliers as possible, with 82% of respondents stating that they would prefer their utility bill to be as detailed as their phone bill. A corresponding 83% of respondents said they were ‘concerned’ over the amount of energy they use at home. Of these, 49% said that finance was a greater concern than the environment, while just over 21% said the environmental impact is their primary concern.

Americans are also keener to place the responsibility for paying for smart meters at the door of central government, whereas U.K. residents thought regional authorities should foot the bill. When asked who should pay for the installation of smart meters should they become a legal requirement, 60% of American and 45% of U.K. respondents believed their utility supplier should pay up.

Technology that enables energy consumption to be monitored and managed is top of the political and environmental agenda on both sides of the Atlantic. Smart metering schemes in Europe have provided key indicators to major utility suppliers that significant new revenue streams are possible through investment in this new technology. U.S. and European consumers facing rising fuel costs demand clear and accurate billing of actual usage to encourage lower energy consumption, preserve the environment and save money. Smart meters in businesses and homes will make accurate, detailed, graphical, usage reports and bills available to consumers online, securely and in real time.

Karl Wills, CEO of Abacus Billing, believes that it is the U.K. and the U.S. governments’ responsibility to fully explain the benefits of efficient energy consumption, developing appropriate policies to promote conservation and encourage greater use of metering data by consumers and utilities alike.

“This survey reinforces what we already know, namely that customers want to save money as well as see more detail on their utility bill – features that go hand-in-hand with smart metering. Smart meter information and billing represents an opportunity for utility companies to provide greater value for their customers and to build closer trust and transparency.

“It’s a win-win situation. Smart metering also benefits energy suppliers, allowing them to monitor times and volume of usage more closely, with the possibility of introducing new revenue streams through variable rates depending on high volume and peak-time consumption, while saving costs through increased efficient delivery.”