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The key to success for UK smart meter roll out

Friday 11th March 2011

As Britain sits on the brink of mass smart meter deployment, an article on smart technology analyst website, Greenbang, has highlighted the need for Government and utilities to work together to overcome consumer distrust, or face serious consequences.  

The article, Rising energy risks smart meters’ promise, highlights the possible role of smart meters in helping energy users monitor and reduce their energy consumption, but warns that energy price hikes may mean smart meters can only help to minimise cost increases rather than reduce bills. 

It’s an issue that could only serve to increase customer distrust, which has been highlighted in a recent report from Consumer Focus. Utilities are increasing energy prices, yet it falls on the consumer’s shoulders to change their own behaviour in order to reduce household energy bills.

Any distrust that consumers have has also not been addressed by Government, which has given no clear strategic reasoning for the smart meter roll-out or how it will benefit both consumers and the national energy supply.

Clearly, consumers need more convincing of the necessity of the smart meter roll-out. They also need to understand why their co-operation in changing energy consumption behaviour is so critical.

So, Government and utilities must provide consumers with clear reasoning for smart meters and the impact their usage has on the national energy supply. They will also have to explain to consumers the longer-term political and socio-economic benefits of conserving energy. But perhaps most importantly, consumers will want to know what’s in it for them.

Consumer education is key. The best way to incentivise a change in consumer behaviour is to give them better insight into their consumption patterns that will help them understand how much energy they use, at what times and how much it costs.

Smart meters need to do more. The only way to truly educate consumers is to give households a breakdown of expenditure at appliance level, in real-time.

There is no doubt in my mind that those who are able to see where their hard earned cash is being spent will change the way they go about consuming energy. And the truth is, at this point in time, Navetas is the only company capable of providing this information in a cost effective way without the need for additional equipment or sensors.

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