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Two million homes to get British Gas smart meters

New smart meters will show live energy use figures

British Gas is to install two million dual fuel smart meters in UK homes by the end of 2012, ahead of the government’s own smart meter roll-out.

Landis+Gyr, the company contracted to supply the first million smart meters, said smart meters could help customers save £200m on energy bills over the next decade.

If you want to keep a close eye on how much energy you use now, take a look at our energy monitors review where we’ve tested some real-time electricity monitors. Plus we’ve also been trying out the Google PowerMeter and AlertMe Energy monitor.

Cut your energy bills

British Gas’ smart meters will monitor energy consumption and show consumers real-time usage figures on what British Gas is describing as an ‘innovative touch screen in-home display’.

This is intended to make consumers more aware of the way they use energy and encourage them to turn off appliances that are not in use, or that use a lot of electricity.

Smart meters will also send usage information directly to British Gas over a wireless network, enabling the energy supplier to calculate accurate energy bills.

Government plans for smart meters

The government wants every home to have a smart meter by 2020 – a move that is expected to cost £8.6 billion.

However, British Gas has decided to start installing smart meters before the end of government trials. British Gas managing director Phil Bentley said: ‘We want all our customers to have smart meters as soon as possible, so they can take advantage of this technology and use it to help them cut their energy use, carbon emissions and fuel bills.’

British Gas will begin installing smart meters in selected households during 2010, and from 2011 British Gas customers will be able to request a smart meter if they want one.

Smart meter cost to consumers

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘We’ve long argued that consumers shouldn’t foot the bill for installing smart meters – consumers will save a few pounds every year, but energy companies will save millions.

‘British Gas clearly sees the business benefits of installing smart meters, calling into question the Government’s assumption that the £8.6 billion cost has to be met by consumers.’

He added: ‘As energy companies gear up to roll out smart meters, Ofgem and the Government must act now to protect consumers’ interests, ensuring the data gathered from smart meters is not mis-used and consumers can still switch energy suppliers easily.’

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