Smart Meters Are Even Better Than We Thought – Why Installing More is the Savvy Choice

Smart Meters Are Even Better Than We Thought – Why Installing More is the Savvy Choice

In a world where every penny counts, discover how smart meters can be your secret weapon for saving both energy and money!

At Meter Corp, we regularly trumpet the benefits of smart meters, including:

  • Automated meter readings
  • The ability to see your energy use in real-time
  • Nudges towards saving energy (and money)

However, it’s emerged that consumers are gaining greater benefits from having smart meters than industry experts (and the government) initially thought. The problem is that not enough consumers have smart meters in their homes yet. It’s time for bold solutions.

In this article, we’ll look in more depth at the data on the impact of smart meters. We’ll also see how the industry aims to install more smart meters and meet its ambitious targets. Let’s get started.

Greater impact

A recent study by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) discovered that smart meters have a larger impact on users’ energy consumption than initially anticipated at the start of the rollout. BIT analysed data from energy suppliers around energy consumption during the first year after the installation of a smart meter. 

Previously, the government thought that smart meters would encourage users to reduce electricity consumption by 3% and 2.2% for gas. However, combined data from four suppliers shows that consumers cut their electricity consumption by 3.43% and 2.97% for gas. While the exact numbers vary from supplier to supplier (one showed that electricity consumption actually rose during the year after getting a smart meter), it’s clear that the gains we’re seeing from smart meters are dramatically higher than initially thought.

At a time when saving energy and reducing spend on power is more important than ever, having a smart meter in your home could make a huge difference.

Rollout issues

So smart meters are even more impactful than the industry expected. But there’s a problem. Suppliers and their contractors can’t get them into people’s homes quickly enough. 

Current figures show that if the industry is to hit its goal of installing a smart meter into every home and business in the UK by the end of 2025 (as is the government’s target), the number of meters installed every month must double. At the current pace of installation, 13.4 million homes and businesses will not have a smart meter when the rollout is due to finish. We’re currently seeing 300,000 new smart meters installed every month, but it needs to be up around 700,000.

It’s fair to say the UK’s smart meter rollout has not gone to plan so far, although some of it was unavoidable, such as the COVID pandemic when engineers were not allowed to enter consumers’ homes to fit smart meters. However, some problems, including the technical issues associated with SMETS 1 meters, that stop working if the consumer changes their energy supplier, were down to errors. It’s no surprise the government has extended the deadline to complete the rollout several times, as well as raising the budget.

However, if the government doesn’t extend the deadline again, it’s clear that we need a bold solution.

Could networks provide the answer?

Regen, an energy industry think tank, believes that simply relying on suppliers to lead the rollout is not working and that we need something more. According to Regen, if the energy networks also began to install meters, it could accelerate the rollout, and there may be a slight chance of hitting the 2025 completion target.

Getting the networks involved would require a change in policy from Ofgem, but as the smart meter rollout is a central part of the government’s net zero ambitions, it could be worth doing. 

Regen also put forward the case for further reforms in the energy industry, including changes to network charging and connection. It would like to see more flexibility in network planning to make it easier to scale up. Regen also called for an end to the feast-and-famine investment cycle, which it believes is too short-term oriented, causing delivery issues and blocking increases in capacity.

What’s next?

It’s great to receive the news that smart meters are not only encouraging consumers to use less energy, but doing it on a grander scale than experts believed possible. However, unless we can physically get smart meters into people’s homes, consumers, the wider industry, and the planet won’t see the full benefit.

It will require some out-of-the-box thinking to hit the current target of a smart meter in every home and business premises by 2025, but the industry should be capable of coming up with radical ideas and bringing them to life in the real world.

Let’s hope we can see some solutions soon, or the smart meter revolution could become an opportunity missed.

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