Significant smart meter roll-outs are starting in the United Kingdom as part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's ambitious plan to install smart meters in over 27 million British homes and over 2 million British businesses by 2020. But significant questions of consumer acceptance and buy-in remain.
This is highlighted again by a recent report by uSwitch.com, a UK-based price comparison and switching website that, since 2000, allows consumers to compare prices for a range of energy, personal finance, insurance and communications services. Last August, uSwitch.com commissioned an on-line survey of over 5,000 British energy customers by YouGov, the internet-based market research firm. The findings are contained in a report released early this month
The report, “Brits in the Dark About Move to Smart Metering,” makes interesting reading. Among the findings:
e) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, just 15% presently welcome the move to smart meters!!!
The report asserts that while smart meters can create "a golden opportunity to put consumers in control of their energy usage and to allow them to understand the positive impact energy efficiency could have on their bills," those benefits will accrue "only. . .if consumers are on board." The report concludes that industry needs to "start talking to customers." Clearly explaining the role of smart meters will be "vital in securing consumer co-operation when the time comes for the meters to actually be installed."