Smart meters can be a helpful first step for households looking to gain more control over their energy use.
In fact, the UK government is pinning its hopes on this new generation of gas and electricity meter and wants them installed in as many homes in Britain as possible.
But they’re not an energy efficiency silver bullet, and have had a lot of criticism over their failings, one of which is their hidden cost.
Footing the bill
Smart meters are intended to save households money. As well as providing households with data on their energy use, the same information is sent to your energy supplier, so bills no longer need to be based on estimates.
But the full cost of the smart meter rollout, of over £11bn, will have to be recouped from consumers through higher energy bills.
This could work out at £374 per household, a figure that looks likely to rise as the full total cost of the rollout rises beyond the initial estimate. So far, the rollout is more than £0.5bn above budget, which means an extra £17 added to household energy bills. But the final over-spend could end up being a lot higher than that, with consumers having to foot the bill.
But what about the predicted savings for households? The government has predicted these will equate to a total of £300m in 2020, rising annually until 2030. However, these predictions may turn out to be optimistic. Nearly a third (32%) of the projected savings from smart meters are from consumers using energy more efficiently. But a smart meter is purely an information provider and doesn’t provide insight into how people can use this data to reduce their bills or energy waste.
It’s clear that to realise savings from smart meters, households will need advice on how exactly to turn the information provided by their smart meter into energy savings.
Are smart meters worth the cost?
So far, smart meters haven’t proven to be much of a money saver. Research from consumer champion Which? showed that while 34% of smart meter owners think their gas and electricity use has reduced since they had a smart meter installed, another 20% have seen an increase. For the rest, there’s been no change.
While smart meters can encourage energy efficiency, alternative products are available that can achieve the same objective, more cheaply.
Loop allows people to build an understanding of how they consume, and more importantly waste energy, whether that’s by leaving lights on unnecessarily or leaving home appliances on standby.
They can see in clear and simple terms how this affects their bill and can take action to lower their usage and costs.
For more information about the pros and cons of smart meters, and how Loop can help, read this guide.
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