Smart meters benefit power giants not customersIndustry to save eight times more than households
31 July 2009
Hi-tech 'smart' meters that automatically send details of your gas and electricity use to your supplier will save UK households just £1.43 a year – a total of £36.75m compared to annual savings of £306m a year for the energy industry.
Under government plans to install smart meters in every home by 2020, it is hard-pressed customers who are being asked to foot the £11bn bill for the national roll out through even higher gas and electricity charges.
But it is the power firms, like British Gas, Npower, Eon, Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern and EDF Energy, that will benefit the most from smart meters, through no longer having to read meters or deal with billing disputes.
Consumer group Which? has warned that smart meters will not automatically mean cheaper bills. While smart meters will result in more accurate bills, they will not provide the information people need to manage their energy usage and cut their costs.
Which? says that this information will only be available to consumers if portable wireless energy monitors are rolled out alongside smart meters.
Which? energy campaigner Dr Fiona Cochrane said: ‘We don’t see how the government can justify asking consumers to pay for something that will save energy companies hundreds of millions a year, while the average household will make only minimal savings.
‘People can only really benefit from smart meters if they come with portable energy monitors so that people can understand their energy use and potentially save money.
‘2020 is a long way off. What people need now are simpler bills, simpler tariffs and greater transparency in the energy markets.’
People switching their gas and electricity to a dual fuel tariff through Which? Switch saved on average £257 on their annual energy bills last year. Which? Switch also features the results of the Which? Utilities Satisfaction Survey – giving a picture of how customers rate their energy suppliers' service.
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