Fewer than half of consumers want a smart meter

New research suggests households are not fully behind the government’s £11bn nationwide roll-out of smart meters

The smart meter roll-out will start next year and will cost an estimated £11bn

The smart meter roll-out will start next year and will cost an estimated £11bn

According to research carried out by the Smart Meter Central Delivery Body (SMCDB), less than half of consumers want to have a smart meter installed in their homes.

SMCDB, an organisation created to promote smart meters, found that 84% of people had heard of smart meters, however, just 44% said they would be interested in having one installed.

To date, approximately 1m meters have been installed, primarily by British Gas, with the full roll-out to start in late 2015.

UK roll-out by 2020

The government-led smart meter roll-out is projected to cost £11bn and is expected to be completed by 2020. Energy companies are responsible for installing smart meters, however, customers can refuse to have one installed in their home.

Advocates of smart meters say the devices will help customers gain control of their energy bills, as well as put an end to estimated energy bills. Smart meters automatically send readings to energy suppliers and allow users to better understand their energy consumption, by providing them with real time usage figures.

Most consumers don’t trust energy suppliers

The research also found that more than half of energy customers did not trust energy suppliers.Chief Executive of the Smart Meter Central Delivery Body, Sacha Deshmukh said that smart meters would be vital in restoring trust to the energy market.

“Antiquated systems for recording energy use and managing billing are no longer fit for purpose. Households need to be able to take control of their energy use and bills”, said Deshmukh.

[Smart meters] will create newly empowered consumers

Speaking on the research, Deshmukh said: “Households need to be able to take control of their energy use and bills.  For this to happen, the national smart meter roll-out is the essential transformation of the technology we use to buy energy.

“It will create newly empowered consumers, and increase trust in those who sell us gas and electricity – and our research bears this out.

“Almost half of consumers told us that they are interested in having a smart meter installed in their homes. That is why it is so important that government is driving forward the programme to install smart meters across Great Britain and has brought together all the electricity and gas suppliers and networks to deliver this critical upgrade to the energy infrastructure in all of our homes.”

‘More in control and better able to manage their energy’

Ann Robinson, Consumer Policy Director at uSwitch, said: “With trust in the energy industry at an all-time low and people finding it difficult to afford the energy they need, it is high time that we now get on and deliver the smart meter programme.

“Our own research backs up today’s findings – that people using smart meters have a higher level of trust in their energy suppliers and experience greater customer satisfaction. They also feel more in control and better able to manage their energy usage.

“Energy companies are amongst the worst offenders for getting bills wrong – in fact a fifth of homes have received incorrect bills over the last two years[1]. With energy accounting for the biggest chunk of household spend after the rent or mortgage, this is incredibly frustrating. The move to smart meters will ensure that people receive accurate, up-to-date bills based on their actual usage. But in the meantime it’s important that we all continue to provide our suppliers with regular meter readings.”

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  • Derek

    What information is transmitted to the supplier? My understanding is that they gather information which they then sell to other retailers and are therefor a spy in your private household.

    • Rob IT

      How do they transmit the information from the smart meters Via my own privately paid broadband? Will I receive a credit for this?

      I’m sure its not very much in the grand scheme of things but its another connection on my own home network. How can I ensure security of their hardware/firmware?
      Will it be updated regularly -again using my monthly allowances?
      More questions than answers…

      • Dizzyp

        The meters have built in SIM cards to relay the data back. There is no requirement to add another connection to your home network.

    • Michele Martinelli

      Hello,
      Under Ofgem rules, you decide what data your supplier can access from your smart meter and whether your supplier can share that info with third parties or use it for marketing purposes. You can find out more on our smart meter guide page – http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/smart-meters-explained/

  • oldhenry

    Absolute rubbish. Energy companies are in control as they can amend your Direct Debit and withhold your funds when you change suppliers. All meters are smart in that they show energy consumed. You just multiply that by the rate per unit.Simple if you went to school when I did in the 1950s.
    I do not want a smart meter. I tell my energy company each month my readings by email so that the bills are as accurate as possible but the company still insists in guessing a bit to the end of them month from the reading date completely incorrectly of course!!

    • MegaBucks

      They can ONLY amend your direct debit under the terms of the direct debit guarantee scheme – by giving you notice of the change.
      I have always found that a phone call explaining they have it wrong and I don’t agree with their figures resolves the issue

      • oldbag

        Tell that too SSE,.they upped our Direct Debit by £10pm,and then told us,not so much as a by your leave,one of the reasons we Ieft.

  • Qexit

    Will all of the energy companies being installing the same standard smart meter or will each be installing their own proprietory version ? If the latter answer is correct, then installing a smart meter will make it much, much hard to change supplier. Can you imagine the nightmare that would ensue everytime you switched and had to organise having the smart meter replaced ?

    Personally, I neither want nor need a smart meter. I send in gas and electricity readings once a month online so never have estimated readings and I have a simple, free clip on smart meter which told me how much electricity I was using. At least it did for the first few weeks. After that, I realised there was nothing I could do to reduce my energy consumption significantly. As I was already turning things off at the socket when not in use, switching off lights when I left rooms, etc. The big power eaters, e.g. boiling water for cups of tea, heating water for showers, etc., had already been reduced to the minimum acceptable.

    The only real beneficiaries of smart meters will be the power companies who will be able to lay off all the meter readers as they will be redundant. This saving in wages will be passed on as bonuses to the people who came up with the whole idea, or at least the executives who employed them, and improved profits to the shareholders. None of it will be passed on as reductions in bills for customers.

    • MeterReaderGuy

      I agree with your comments! Guess I need to look for a new job!!!

    • Michele Martinelli

      Hello,
      If you get a smart meter installed it won’t affect your rights to switch supplier. Energy providers are not allowed to refuse to supply you and if you have any problems switching you can contact Citizens Advice on 08454 04 05 06.
      We’ve got some additional information on smart meters in our dedicated guide – http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/smart-meters-explained/

      • Qexit

        Hi Michele,

        I think you are missing the point of my comment. I know that having a smart meter installed does not affect your rights to switch supplier. What I was suggesting was that unless all the suppliers use the same standard smart meter, it will be a nightmare to switch suppliers due to the need to have the old smart meter removed and a new one installed every time you decide to switch. Can you imagine the number of ways that could go wrong ? You would need to have the change coordinated on the same day at the same time. It would have to be on a day when the customer could be at home and so on and so forth.

        At least at the moment it is only a paper chase to get things done. If the need to physically change the meter becomes part of the exercise it will be a disaster. The only plus point for some people would be that the energy companies would have to re-employ all the redundant meter readers as meter installers and removers :-)

    • oldbag

      I agree with all Qexit has wrote,I do my reading’s every month,no hassle,+we have the switch off at socket bug, these smart meters are a waste of our money…

    • John Temple

      I also agree with Quexit. I also send in my meter readings online, around the first of every month to my supplier – no problems. I know I am already being as economical as possible, so the clip-on remote meter I have now monitors the output of the solar panels – much more useful (tells me when I can use the dishwasher and the washing machine or heat water in a small electric kettle). Big security worry with smart meters. When we are away (e.g. for a weekend or a few days) electricity consumption is approximately halved. If the information can be leaked or hacked (and why couldn’t it be) it would be gold-dust to sophisticated well equipped burglars.

  • Stu

    British Gas did not tell me it was optional…
    Now with Scottish Power and they don’t use Smart meters yet…

  • Trevor

    Surely we can claim Copyright on information arising from within our homes and only allow the Companies to make use of consumption figures
    ?

  • mister cohen

    I understand that the meters will be able to change the tariff acording to the time of day. A bit like the old off peak/white meter but lots of different prices at different times of the day and night.
    The gov and energy companies want this technology so that they can control demand by charging you more at peak times (they will decide when the peak is). This way they can smooth the peaks and hence avoid the need to build/invest in costly power stations or standby availability.
    The regulator has allowed them (energy companies) to charge you for these meters via your bill (all done and dusted) to save them a load of money when building the infrustructure. They are trying to convince the public that you will be better off one day soon, whilst your bills are increased to pay for these meters now. JAM TOMORROW

  • Kris Cadman

    I am a Chartered Engineer with an interest in energy since my school days when I obtained data from the Building Research Establishment. Over the last couple of decades I have collected data from my accurate conventional meters. The installation of double glazing, cavity wall and attic insulation has reduced usage. It is difficult to see the benefits because they are masked by the effects of variable weather. My calculations do not have that problem and apply to a large proportion of houses with cavity walls and tiled pitched roof. Why would I want a smart meter?

  • oldhenry

    All meters are ‘smart’ . They have dials which show energy used. You multiply that amount by the unit cost that you pay. Are people so incapable of simple arithmetic that they need a meter to tell them how much they have used in monetary terms? Pathetic sums up the UK today. Who is at fault? Socialism IMHO.

  • S. Hunt

    Hi Qexit and all other contributors,

    I entirely agree with your comments.

    It is an absolute disgrace that the government has been hood winked into this ridiculous scheme. £11 Billion is a monstrous waste of money.

    Otherwise normally sane and ‘intelligent’ people are following along like sheep!

    Its rather like the’ Kings suit of clothes’!.

    I have challenged a British Gas spokesman who failed completely to justify any of the supposed ‘savings’ to me. In the end he finally gave up saying that it will be compulsory in 2015!

    I am totally frustrated by this as It appears this nonsense is to foisted on us all.

    At what a cost! £11 Billion! I still can hardly believe it is happening.

    Knowing how much a freezer costs to run will not enable you to control its energy consumption. Unless of course you switch it off and this applies to all the other essential appliances, refrigerators, washing machines etc.

    So just where are the savings?

    Quite simply there are none to be had. None that is, made possible by this fancy toy.

    We already have in our homes a perfectly accurate and serviceable KW hour meter. It shows exactly how many KW hours (units) that have been consumed.

    It is incumbent on us all to use energy sensibly of course and using the most energy efficient of equipment etc is a given but we don’t need smart meters to do that.

    Can I just pick up on the comment about energy companies possibly being able to vary tariffs. Even If this is allowed by OFGEN again it will still not be possible to control or reduce the consumption of essential equipment.

    A real smart meter would be one that allowed the consumer to automatically switch to the lowest prevailing tariff month by month. Now there’s a thought.

    Once again even this would not reduce the UK energy consumption or carbon footprint but I am sure it would keep these privatized monopolies on their toes and possibly give the consumer a better deal.

    S, Hunt (Electrical Engineer retired)

    Specialty.

    Design and commissioning of industrial energy control systems.

  • Steve

    We use the energy we need, having a smart metre is not going to change that. Seems to me these metres will benefit the providers not the customers.

  • charlie murray

    the smart meter is prone to breaking down frequently, my advice don’t torch them with a barge pole they also take ages to load credit and supply gas absolutely useless.

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