The UK Government has revealed that smart meters could save households up to £23 a year by 2020 – an increase of almost 65 per cent on the previous estimate of £14.
The saving offered by smart meters may not seem much, but in a climate of economic uncertainty and rising fuel costs, every penny saved is a penny earned. Unfortunately, the cost of powering homes and running domestic central heating systems is likely to increase by far more than £23 per annum over the next nine years.
Senior advocate at Which?, Jessica Driscoll, urged caution over the Government’s latest estimate, suggesting that it is impossible to fully realise the benefits of smart meters until they are installed in homes.
Ms Driscoll said: “It’s too difficult to say that people will save a certain amount of money. The savings depend on people making changes to the way they use energy and that is very hard to do. Smart meters are just one way of helping people make those changes”.
53 million smart meters are due to be installed in 30 million homes and commercial properties over the five-year period starting 2014. The Government believes that households could benefit the most from the smart meters, which enable consumers to identify how their electricity is being used. Smart meters ought to empower users to make more informed decisions about usage throughout the home.
The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, explained: “Smart meters are a key part of giving us all more control over how we use energy at home and at work, helping us to cut out waste and save money.
“In combination with our plans to reform the electricity market and introduce the green deal [a project to insulate homes across the UK], the rollout of smart meters will help us keep the lights on while reducing emissions and getting the best possible deal for the consumer”.
As useful as smart meters may seem, Ms Driscoll sounded a warning over their potential use, stating: “Once they’re in your home, they [the energy companies] might try to ‘upsell’, which is something we are worried about. People do not trust energy companies”.