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The benefits of smart meters

Smart gas and electricity meters will play a key role in bringing our energy management into the 21st century.

They will bring benefits for consumers, giving us more control over how we use our energy at home and at work, helping us to cut energy consumption save money and reduce carbon emissions.

Smart meters will provide accurate consumption information and bring an end to estimated billing – so no more nasty surprises for consumers – and will make switching between suppliers smoother and faster. 

They will also help suppliers run their businesses more effectively. New products and services will be supported in a vibrant and competitive market in energy and energy management services. The roll-out will also support the development of a smart grid delivering improved network efficiency and responsiveness and supporting the uptake of electric vehicles and microgeneration.

Given these benefits, the Government is overseeing an ambitious programme for every home in Great Britain to have a smart electricity and gas meter with an In-Home Display which will show you how much energy you are using.   

Energy suppliers will be required to install smart meters in 28 million homes and 2 million smaller businesses in Britain, delivering over £7billion net benefit to the nation.

The mass roll-out of smart meters will begin in 2014 and be completed in 2019. Some energy suppliers have already started installing smart meters.

We want to ensure that the benefits of the programme are maximised and that consumers are protected.  We are consulting on a series of measures, such as how consumers should be engaged and how data can be accessed and protected, which underline our determination to put consumers’ interests at the heart of the programme. 

You can find more information about the consultations and the Smart Meters Programme on the DECC website.

Filed under: Saving energy

Comments: 9 Comments on The benefits of smart meters
Posted on: May 14 2012

9 Responses to “The benefits of smart meters”

  1. ALICE says:

    I am interested in the smart meter project in UK. And I have downloaded all the files regarding the project. There are some confusion as below:

    Question 1: Regarding the smart electricity meter, there are single phase and polyphase, but I can only find one cost £ 43, hence, my question is what’s the 43 indicate? The average price for both single phase meter and polyphase meter or it only for single phase.

    Question 2: what’s the percentage of single phase meter and polyphase meter?

  2. [...] The energy companies are providing the meters directly to consumers, so if your supplier is British Gas, you will be offered the chance to have a British Gas electricity and gas smart meter installed in your home. (1) [...]

  3. We welcome this as a positive reaffirmation of the Ministers’ commitment to a smarter energy future. It’s important to remember though, that smart meters are integral to a smarter network – both parts of which make up a much wider smart grid.

    This principle not only ensures benefits to energy management and consumption, but dictates the extent to which potential benefits are maximised for consumers too.

    Greater network efficiency, responding to demand and supporting low-carbon technologies will all need data and information to be a reality. Energy Networks Association is working closely with the Department to ensure this is possible. However, if all smart meters in use cannot provide this data and functionality necessary for the networks to do their job, it won’t be possible to reduce the need for increased infrastructure. The risk of which is that these savings to customers bills won’t be realised.

    Delivering positive changes to the customer-supplier relationship is important, but DECC must equally ensure these network functionalities are in place to provide long-term benefits to the whole energy cycle. These elements are also critical if we are to meet our carbon reduction targets. After all, the Minister himself has said “the real prize” of smart meters is smarter networks.

  4. Smart Meters Team says:

    Hi Joseph,

    Implementation of the Government’s smart metering policy will require a number of changes to the existing regulatory framework governing the electricity and gas markets. This will be made using a combination of: licence obligations, compliance with which is monitored and enforced by Ofgem; industry codes, to which all relevant licensees are obliged to comply under their licence; and compulsory or voluntary codes of practice, to set minimum standards for certain activities of particular parties.

    Licence conditions are the primary tool used by Ofgem to regulate the energy sector – Ofgem has enforcement powers which enable it to take action if it considers that a licensee is in breach of the conditions of its licence. It can impose a financial penalty of up to 10% of the annual turnover of a licensee in the case of a serious breach of licence conditions.

    In relation to your concerns about data access and privacy, the Government is putting in place a framework for smart metering covering these matters as part of this wider approach. Our proposal, which is currently out for consultation, is that data access and privacy requirements should be set out in clear licence conditions on energy suppliers. The consultation can be found at

  5. ian greenwood says:

    The smartest thing the UK could do would be do get simple mental arithmetic up the educational agenda and how to read the wattage off an appliance so people know what they are using without a meter, being vigilant in turning things off and getting back to basic equipment and simplest possible lifestyle!

    CHEERs though!

  6. David Evans says:

    The proposition that domestic consumers will use these meters to help them reduce their energy consumption was called into question by an Ofgem report, quoted in The Independent on 1st Oct 2011. Over a 2 year trial only 3% reductions were recorded, and that was by enthusiastic volunteers. Assuming these are maybe 10% of the population, total savings might turn out to be 0.3% across the country and that is utterly negligible. This is a hugely costly exercise that will benefit only the suppliers, and therefore they, or rather their shareholders, should fund this 100% and not the consumer.

    • Smart Meters Team says:

      Hi David
      Thanks for your comments. The Ofgem report referred to in the article in ‘The Independent’ was the Energy Demand Research Project (EDRP) This was a suite of large scale trials across Great Britain designed to understand how consumers react to improved information about their energy consumption over the long term. Over 50,000 households were included in the trials, including 18,000 with smart meters, The results showed savings of around 3% for those with smart meters with real-time displays. In relation to the claims made that the results were not robust because the trials were conducted among a group of volunteers, this is not the case. Participants were recruited as far as possible on a random basis. With any trial requiring access to people’s homes, it is impossible to make the recruitment completely randomised, However, energy suppliers went to considerable lengths to recruit a representative selection of customers, including pre-payment and fuel poor customers. While there is evidence from eg research by the European Smart Meters Industry Group that greater savings can be achieved, we have nevertheless adopted a conservative approach in our Impact Assessments in estimating the benefits to consumers from reductions in energy demand. We assume these to be 2.8% for electricity and 2% for gas (0.5% for gas pre-payment meters). While these percentage figures may not seem very much, taken across all homes in GB they will amount to a net energy saving of £4.3 billion over the next 20 years.

  7. [...] Department of Energy and Climate Change Blog [...]

  8. Joseph says:

    I agree with what you say and am encouraged by the recent Government Update on the Smart Meter Implementation Programme. My real concern – we need to ensure mechanisms are there to ensure that Energy Companies actually do what they are obliged to do. We have seen in the recent FTC proceedings against MySpace that strong compliance and enforcement mechanisms are key to creating consumer trust and confidence. A cursory examination of UK Energy Utility companies websites/privacy policies show that the positive privacy obligations are not set out in a clear and comprehensible manner.

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