Consumers the only ‘obstacle’ to smart homes

Consumers are the only “obstacle” to the success of so-called ‘smart’ meters and homes. That’s the view of Pilgrim Beart, founder of AlertMe which makes energy monitors for homeowners to […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Consumers are the only “obstacle” to the success of so-called ‘smart’ meters and homes. That’s the view of Pilgrim Beart, founder of AlertMe which makes energy monitors for homeowners to check up on their energy use.

The serial entrepreneur and ex-Silicon Valley programmer made the claim at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s annual Clerk Maxwell lecture, where he spoke about the future of smart homes and smart meters in Britain.

‘Smart’ meters refers to energy monitors which accurately measure how much energy is used. The small industry is set to grow massively as the government is gearing up to a mass rollout of the new devices to 54 milion homes and businesses by 2019.

Mr Beart told the audience: “I don’t see any fundamental obstacles except for consumers and their adoption. I don’t underestimate that. It’s a massive challenge. The sort of thing that an 80-year old lady living alone needs in her house is probably very different from what a family of six with young children needs in their home.”

The solution is a “massive education campaign” on how people can take advantage of smart metering, similar to the recent one for the digital TV switchover, he added.

But the industry will have to tailor smart technology so it is simple to understand and easy to use, the AlertMe founder added: “We’ve got to make sure we adapt these technologies so they work for everyone. They’ve got to be mass market. None of these things are mass market yet.”

Around three million homes in the UK have smart meters already, with the mass rollout kicking off in 2014. Models in the UK cost around £25 each at the moment, compared with pricey American versions that can average £200-300.