Consistent price hikes in the energy industry has dominated discussion across the UK in the past few months, with a reduction in green levies the only policy of substance that has done anything to lower energy bills for households across the UK.
However, a new government project has sought to address rising prices in a different manner- by making smart meters more readily available to all households across the UK.
The new project will receive around 11 billion of funding in order to have over 50 million smart meters set up in households and businesses across the UK by 2020. Smart Meters enable users to gauge their energy usage for different appliances separately, and give a 100% accurate reading. It is hoped that by making them widely available, that people will no longer be at risk of being overcharged with any unfair costs due to a poor estimate made by poor technology.
The average annual consumer bill for energy has increased by almost 100% in the past 9 years, with an official estimate made by Ofgem gauging it to be around £1315 in 2013.
“Let’s be honest here, everyone understands pounds and pence, but not all of us – and I count myself in this sometimes – understand kilowatt-hours,” said Lawrence Slade, chief operating officer of industry association Energy UK.
It has been predicted that the average consumer would making a saving of almost £25 each year if they simply installed a smart meter, whilst this savings figure would increase to almost £40 by 2030.
It is also hoped that the usage of a smart meter will lower energy consumption within households, implying positive environmental benefits to installing one as well.
Currently, just under 180,000 households are thought have had a smart meter set up, whilst a recent survey displayed that over half of its sample had positive things to say about the financial affects of having one installed.
Many cited the meters feature to display energy usage via a traffic light system as an essential reason why they were saving money, as it flashed different colours during the day to alert them of the cheapest times to use their energy.
This has meant that many people have managed to use their most energy consuming appliances at the cheapest times of day, saving them a considerable amount in the long term.
It will be worth looking out in the upcoming months for when the project is implemented, though if you are not applicable for one then it might still be worth making a request to your energy supplier for one. Installation is simple, but you could find yourself saving hundreds in the next few years by just picking up the phone and making an enquiry about the availability of one.
One of the greatest benefits of smart meters are that they place some degree of control on energy prices in the hands of consumers, who have long been unable to do anything other than switch supplier to lower costs.
Opinion polls have suggested that many British consumers have become apathetic and untrusting of the country’s big six energy firms due to the lack of transparanecy in their price hikes, but it is hoped that through smart meters people will begin to regain trust for these companies due to accurate bill costs.
A recent survey has implied that this affect may well have already manifested into reality, with over 10% of participants disclosing that they trusted providers more after a smart meter had been installed in their home.
Obviously the effectiveness of smart meters is dependent on consumers to utilise the information gained from smart meters to their benefit, though the industry is set to expand during the next two decades.
“You’ve got to put the data in the palm of their hand and make it really, really easy to use,” said Mary Turner, chief executive of AlertMe, a company that has worked to provide live information to consumers at the nature of energy prices.