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Not so smart meters You can’t get a smart meter for love nor money. At least, so says a man who has gone out of his way to get his […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Not so smart meters

You can’t get a smart meter for love nor money. At least, so says a man who has gone out of his way to get his hands on one, without any luck.

Last week the Energy Secretary has talked up the benefits of smart meters and British Gas announced plans to give them to its business customers for free, one punter’s attempt to begin his own smart revolution shows up their sorry efforts.

Bob Axford, an IT consultant and ‘early adopter’ of smart technology who has solar panels on his roof, says he’s contacted several of the Big Six on his quest for a smart meter: “They all say you have to wait ’til the rollover happens. At the moment, the only way I can get my data is by checking my meters every day. I go outside every morning at eight ‘o’clock and measure my electricity and my gas meter. It’s a pain.”

Despite his family laughing at the daily routine, he’s committed to the cause but it appears the Big Six are less so.Which seems ironic considering British utilities are obliged to install over 53million of the things in our homes by 2019, with the big rollout due to kick off in 2014.

It must be fairly galling for Mr Axford, given that more than three million homes across the UK already have them [ – and a couple of suppliers seem to be chucking them at residential customers for free too in a bid to get them to switch].He shared his tale of frustration with me after the IET’s Clerk Maxwell Lecture last week, where Pilgrim Beart, founder of energy data monitor firm AlertMe, gave a forward-looking talk on ‘smart’ homes.

It was all very exciting, futuristic stuff – houses which will automaticallyheat themselves according to your daily schedule, or being able to check and adjust your home’s electricity use with your smartphone from anywhere you like.

But the main barrier or “obstacle” to all this innovation happening is the consumer who has to embrace the technology and that can only happen if the industry makes it easier for Mr and Mrs J Bloggs to do so.As Mr Axford’s struggle to get the smart meter kit shows that’s not happening.

For all Chris Huhne’s and the energy firms’ talk, it comes across as no more than a pathetic publicity stunt to snag votes or customers.