With the roll out of Smart Meters across the UK due to be completed by 2020, we looked at current take-up rates and also explored how consumers are reacting to the planned introduction.
We asked a nationally representative sample of 209 households* about their views on Smart Meters, and how they feel about detailed energy information being shared with their suppliers. Their answers revealed some changes that energy suppliers need to make to encourage their customers to get on-board with Smart Meters sooner rather than later.
Recap: what Smart Meters do
Smart Meters are one of the biggest developments to hit the gas and electricity market in recent years. Riding on the digitalisation trend, Smart Meters will enable meter readings to be sent to energy suppliers automatically and directly (without needing anyone to read them) and will allow both energy suppliers and consumers to have a much better understanding of their energy consumption.
Nearly a third of households have Smart Meters – or do they?
Latest official figures highlight that current Smart Meter take-up remains low at around 10%**. However our survey indicates that many consumers believe they have a Smart Meter installed when in fact they may not, with just under a third of households reporting that they have a Smart Meter. This highlights the first challenge for the industry: consumers need to understand the terminology of Smart Meters and how these differ from other devices such as Smart Monitors that could be retro-fitted to existing traditional meters.
Do customers actually want them?
Most people claim to be aware of Smart Meters, indeed our survey found that only 3% of households were unaware of the Smart Meter introduction. However, it’s clear that consumers don’t understand the advantages of having a Smart Meter installed with 25% of households stating they are quite happy with their existing meter and don’t see any need to change while another 11% don’t see the point or benefit to having them installed.
Good news! Smart Meters ARE worth the hassle
For some; there are concerns around the hassle and inconvenience of the installation, but a majority of those who have had a Smart Meter installed were satisfied with the installation – and this is something energy suppliers can shout about, especially if it encourages others to make the switch.
Data security concerns
One of the other key areas suppliers need to tackle head on is the area of trust and information security. We found that fewer than half of households trust their energy supplier to keep their data secure. This will undoubtedly dampen enthusiasm for Smart Meters and it’s an area where suppliers can actively address concerns through communication campaigns.
Will the 2020 deadline be met?
At this stage much more communication and promotion of Smart Meters is needed to get households on board but, more positively, those who have already made the move seem satisfied with their decision, and this should help to build momentum amongst remaining households.
Can we help you?
Impact Utilities is a full service market research agency with specialist knowledge across the utilities sector. To find out more about how we can help you make the transition to 2020 smoother, contact Michael Brainch on +44 (0)1932 226793 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Data Source: Online survey of n=209 households 15-16 June 2016, designed and managed by Impact Utilities