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Smart meters

The smart meter roll-out is an unprecedented opportunity. It will be the first time there is a roll out of energy technology to every home in the UK since the switch to gas. It could be the perfect delivery mechanism for a massive overhaul of every property in the UK - future proofing them for a low carbon world and helping to drastically reduce every citizen’s energy consumption.

So far in the process of designing how the smart meter roll-out will operate, we were successful in securing the mandated provision of in home display devices with every smart meter, something which we believe is critical to engaging people with their energy use.

The focus of current debate is the consumer engagement programme to accompany the roll-out. This will establish a Central Delivery Body to lead engagement with households. The success of the scheme is fully dependent on consumers’ response to the roll-out: They need to accept the meter in the first place and act to reduce their energy use in response to it. Schemes abroad have had to be halted due to inadequate consumer engagement. We believe it is essential that the Central Delivery Body engages with a wide group of civil society stakeholders in a comprehensive way as possible and focuses on energy efficiency as well as installing meters.

Our new policy insight provides five key recommendations for strengthening the consumer engagement strategy.

Our work

Consumer engagement

In April 2012, with the support of SmartReach, Green Alliance ran a process to identify ways of strengthening the consumer engagement strategy proposals during the consultation period on this subject. We held a seminar on 18 April with a range of stakeholders and carried out a number of individual interviews on the subject. This policy insight presents the conclusions of this work.

Workshop on maximising energy savings from the smart meter roll out

We have been contributing to Ofgem and ERA led consultation processes but felt there was a need to refocus stakeholder’s minds on the energy saving aims that lie at the heart of the smart meter roll out. Our workshop on 1 December 2010 took the need to deliver energy savings as its starting point and made progress in working through some of the roll out’s challenges from that perspective. It was a productive event that brought together energy suppliers, Ofgem and Decc officials, consumer groups, environmental groups and academics.

You can see the workshop's agenda here and read the report of the workshop here.

The presentations given at the workshop can be found here:

  • Energy Retail Association - a supplier view on maximising energy efficiency from the roll out - read it here (pdf 230kb)
  • Green Alliance - the bigger picture - seizing this unique opportunity - read it here (powerpoint 6.12mb)
  • Consumer Focus - a consumer view on maximising behaviour change - read it here (powerpoint 2.75mb)
  • Groundwork - working with Southern Water to build consumer engagement with water meters and reduce consumption - read it here (powerpoint 503kb)

Other resources

Read Green Alliance's 2007 report looking at the potential for smart technology to make our homes greener - Teaching homes to be green

For more information on this work please contact Faye Scott, head of research, 020 7630 4524.