Positive signs for consumers following UK smart meter rollout

A major study into the rollout of smart meter technology in the UK has revealed some promising signs regarding consumer acceptance of the new devices, with many already reporting significant savings on their energy bills.

Benefits beginning to reveal themselves

To help combat the ever-increasing threat of climate change, the UK Government aims to have over 50 million smart meters installed in almost 30 million homes by 2020. While the new report from East Cheshire Training and Assessment (ECTA) covers just the 4 million meters installed thus far, early indications are that people are seeing the benefits.

ECTA's survey found that 44 per cent of respondents say their energy bills have decreased since having a smart meter installed. Similarly, having access to clearer insights is leading many consumers to pay closer attention to their usage and adopt more efficient energy management strategies.

The ability to monitor usage patterns has prompted 43 per cent to turn down heating or switch off lights around their homes when they weren't needed, with a further 17 per cent timing their energy use to capitalise on lower, off-peak rates.

"The fact that more than 40 per cent of consumers with a smart meter have noticed a drop in their energy bills just highlights that arranging an upgrade can have financial benefits to consumers," the report notes. 

Sharing energy usage data a popular option

In addition to the cost-saving and efficiency benefits already experienced by consumers, ECTA's report also examined how the connected nature of smart meters can lead to further savings. Privacy issues regarding personal information remain on the minds of some users, however 53 per cent of respondents mentioned they would be comfortable sharing both current and historic usage data if it meant a better deal on their energy. 

The only major concern of the program found by ECTA was that the smart meter rollout may not be able to happen fast enough, with a perceived skills shortage meaning the UK could miss its 2020 target.

"The delivery of the smart meter rollout has called for the creation of a new breed of meter engineer, someone who can combine the practical ability of meter removal, installation and testing," Dave Berry, director at ECTA Training, told Training Journal.

"While this provides opportunities for tradespeople to skill up in this area, we also need to encourage new entrants to consider this career path in order to meet the demand."