Every house in Britain will be fitted with a smart energy meter within the next decade in a £9-billion Government scheme, designed to save consumers money.
In a trial of the new meters, many households saved 3%–4% off energy bills, which could add up to a £100-million annual saving when the meters are rolled out across the country.
Smart meters send accurate information to energy companies about the household’s electricity and gas consumption, in place of companies sending out engineers to read the meters.
Householders will also have a small screen installed displaying company bills, special offers and warnings when energy usage is unusually high.
The Government announced the smart meter scheme three years ago, and has finally revealed how much it will cost and how it will be rolled out, although companies warn that the cost of installing the meters,
estimated at between £7 billion and £9 billion, will be passed onto
Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, says: ‘Smart meters will empower consumers to monitor their own energy use and make reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions as a result.’
‘I can only see benefits for us, and for customers,’ says Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas. ‘There will be no more incorrect estimated bills, which is a hideous cause for complaint.’
Energy companies will install their own meters, but the machines will feed data to a centralised IT company, allowing consumers to switch between suppliers without swapping their meters.