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British Gas Empowering Customers With Smart Meters

By Katie Anderson on September 2, 2011

From next month, the UK’s largest energy provider, British Gas, will begin rolling out new touch screen smart meters to their customers’ homes.

The first of a new generation of smart meters, designed to help customers control their bills and save money, they will provide detailed information of a customer’s energy use. To help monitor the amount of electricity being used, a traffic light system has been implemented to warn households when they are using large amounts of electricity.

Set to be installed in 10 million homes, the technology will mean the end to estimated billing and meter readings, with customers only paying for the amount of energy they actually use.

In a bid to reduce carbon emissions and to help people become more energy efficient, the Government wants all UK homes to be equipped with smart meter technology by 2020. With nearly 400,000 fitted to date in homes and businesses, British Gas already has the largest roll-out of smart meters in the UK.

However the older models are lacking in the latest innovations, such as price display and wireless capability. These new features are what sets the next generation in smart meter technology aside; enabling British Gas customers to be the most empowered energy users in the UK.

“It can very quickly be used to deliver brilliant insight to the consumer to say ‘you don’t have enough insulation in your home’, or ‘your central heating system is costing you a fortune’,” said managing director of British Gas Smart Homes, Dean Keeling.

“It helps us deliver insight to the consumer which they can trust, and we know is accurate. Ultimately for us that helps us build a better business,” he added.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has said that the new smart meters will enable households to see how much energy they are using, helping them to keep on top of rising energy costs. However, a pilot study has revealed that the technology ‘may have not much effect’ on consumption.

According to research conducted by the University of East Anglia, despite initial enthusiasm to cut energy use, it quickly subsided, with many feeling despondent and frustrated because the changes they could make were insignificant. The 12 month study involving thousands of UK families using the technology found that some homes gave up using the smart meters altogether. And in the most extreme cases, other households would argue over the amount of energy being used.