The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has recently outlined plans to install smart meters in all UK homes by 2020, which will require that some 48 million meters are fitted in approximately 26 million properties over the next ten years. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the scheme is set to cost a pretty penny, with current estimates in the region of £8 billion.
Nevertheless, the DECC argues that the smart meters are necessary in order to effectively monitor domestic energy usage, which is essential if the country is to live up to the Government’s greenhouse gas emission targets. Moreover, as climate change strategies are currently under discussion in the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, which is due to close on the 18th December this year, it is quite possible that existing Government targets will be revised in the new year.
In any case, the need to cut carbon emissions, which refers broadly to various greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, is extremely important in a world that is thought to be heading towards climatic catastrophe. Notwithstanding this, domestic energy consumers will no doubt want to know precisely what smart meters are, how they operate and whether they will subsidise the bill of introducing them to homes throughout the country.
In respect to the latter question, energy companies in the UK will be responsible for installing the smart meters in homes, so no fee will be charged to consumers directly. However, it is estimated that energy bills will increase by around £15 per household per annum up to 2020, although £10 of this is expected to be covered by the savings generated from there no longer being a requirement for people to read gas and electricity meters. Nevertheless, it is thought that smart meters, which are capable of monitoring gas and electricity usage throughout the home in detail, will save consumers around £25 to £35 each year by providing them with real time information of their energy consumption and costs.