The summer of 2016 is set to mark the beginning of one of the biggest transformations in the British energy sector with the commencement of the mass roll-out of smart meters. The programme is currently at its foundation stage with over one million meters installed out of a total of 53 million devices. Customers’ feedback on the roll-out has been overwhelmingly positive with 84% recommending smart meters to others, 79% recognising the changes they have made to their energy consumption following an installation and 75% understanding their bills more comprehensively than they did previously.
This positive progress was visible on recent site visits I undertook to watch meters being installed and commissioned. The first visit was to a smart meter instalation where the meter after being installed was then connected to the central systems and the in-home display (IHD). The customer was thrilled with his new IHD and how visible the consumption was. However, the customer’s sudden realisation of how expensive their kitchen lights were to run was just one of a series of efficiencies which will doubtlessly be recognised across the roll-out.
The second customer experienced a full installation of both electricity and gas meters; a quick and tidy process which also provided an opportunity to reinforce the safety of the meter box. As a prepayment customer the benefits of accurate billing were readily acknowledged as was the potential for smart meters to bring in a whole new range of smart tariffs.
Of particular interest to the work we do at Energy UK was the installers’ concerns over propagation as to-date there has been no solution for the homes where devices are unable to communicate with one another due to property construction. It was to resolve this exact problem that Energy UK has done so much work in the development of Alternative HAN and new communication bandwidths which you can read more about here. My host installer was keen to praise the employment benefits of the smart meter roll-out as it is directly responsible for the recruitment of thousands of new installers – eight of whom he was presently training.
In seeing this alternative perspective to the programme, it’s clear that the purported benefits are already being realised. Costs are being reduced, efficiencies are being effected and energy consumption is increasingly engaged with. Furthermore, jobs are being created and customer satisfaction is going to continue rising even further than it has to-date.