A new report from the Policy Exchange claims that households will cut their energy use when they compare themselves against a neighbour who uses less.
The think tank spoke to residents in Camden, London, and found they cut their bills by 6% or £70 a year when they compared their bills to neighbours in similar properties.
They are arguing that schemes like this could be paid for by the government’s new energy efficiency subsidy, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which should allow energy-efficiency initiatives to compete for funding.
The Policy Exchange estimates that measures aimed at changing energy consumption were seven times cheaper than building capacity for new power generation.
The report also recommended:
- Closer cooperation between government, community groups and civil society to champion the use of smart meters;
- A national advertising campaign showing the energy-efficiency benefits of smart meters;
- A review of Ofgem and the government’s proposals to cut down the number of energy tariffs, which could damage the potential of smart meters to offer better tariffs.
Smart meters can help
Speaking to the Telegraph, the report’s author Guy Newey said: “Helping people to cut their rising energy bills and avoid wasting energy is one of the most important things the government can do.
“It is also one of the easiest and cheapest ways of reducing our carbon emissions. Smart meters have the potential to help change the way we use energy in the homes. But they won’t change habits on their own.
“Households need support to understand where they can make savings. If your find out your neighbour is paying £50 a month less for their energy, you’re much more likely to do something about reducing your own energy use.”