Smart meters could reduce energy useResearch and awareness in short supply

20 November 2007

Installing so-called smart meters in homes could reduce the amount of energy people use and help in the fight against climate change, a report said today.

27

Percentage of UK's carbon emissions from homes

The meters track the amount of gas and electricity that homeowners use, enabling them to see the energy used to make a cup of tea or to power the TV. (See our report on using less electricity for more tips.)

But while these and other 'smart' features can reduce energy usage by changing people's behaviour, more robust evidence of their benefits is needed, according to environmental thinktank Green Alliance.

Little sustained research

It said there had been little sustained research to quantify the environmental benefits of smart features, despite the fact that 27% of the UK's carbon emissions comes from homes.

At the same time research has shown that the majority of people do not know about the technology.

The group is calling on the Government to do more to raise the profile of smart features in homes and clarify their benefits.

Ignorance of meters is widespread

But a survey carried out by insurer More Than, which is supporting the report, found that 81% of people had never heard of smart meters.

Once the concept was explained, 43% of people said they would be interested in having one, although just 26% would be willing to pay for it, with others claiming it was the job of energy companies and the Government to foot the bill.

Nearly half of people also said the Government needed to do more to make people aware of the options available to them to make their homes more energy efficient.

Green Alliance said people were already spending money to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, such as paying for cavity wall insulation, but smart meters could further improve the energy efficiency of older homes.

Potential is clear

Stephen Hale, director of Green Alliance, said: 'Smart features have not had much recognition as environmental solutions but our new report makes their potential clear.

‘They can make important contributions to the environmental challenges we face and we would like to see sustained research into this area.

‘The Government needs to recognise that smart electricity meters are the critical first step in introducing a wider range of green smart features into homes.’

To cut your electricity bills, rather than usage, go to Switch with Which?. 

:: YouGov questioned 2,335 people during November.

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