Energy suppliers to trial smart meter display alternatives

The government has given the go-ahead for energy suppliers to trial alternatives such as smartphone apps to display smart meter information. Since 2012, the standard licence conditions for electricity and […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The government has given the go-ahead for energy suppliers to trial alternatives such as smartphone apps to display smart meter information.

Since 2012, the standard licence conditions for electricity and gas supply have required all domestic consumers to be freely offered an In-Home Display (IHD) when installing smart meters.

IHDs provide consumers with near-real time information on actual energy usage taken from smart electricity and gas meters through a wireless home area network.

DECC said the policy is based on “strong UK and international evidence” that consumers on average reduce their energy use more when they have an IHD than with a smart meter alone.

It has decided to allow suppliers to undertake trials where they promote mobile alternatives instead of offering an IHD.

The trials are expected to help DECC gather evidence about how people interact with different ways of getting information about their energy use like phone apps or web based portals. It will then consider making changes to the current policy.

The move, which was announced in response to a consultation, is part of the government’s plan to accelerate its national smart meter rollout, with the aim of having the technology in every home by 2020.

Energy Minister Lord Bourne said: “I’m committed to ensuring that this government transforms Great Britain’s energy infrastructure so it is fit for the 21st century. The rollout of smart meters play a key role in helping hardworking families to take control of their energy use, bringing an end to estimated bills and helping bill payers to become more energy efficient.

“We’ve listened to stakeholders who have told us that they want to give their customers the choice in how they engage with their energy use. That’s why we are allowing energy suppliers to introduce trials of alternatives to the In Home Display – such as smartphone apps – so we can ensure our decisions meet the needs of consumers across the country.”

The trial application window is expected to open by the end of March.

According to the national campaign for smart meters, only 23% of people are aware of the technology and understand them and energy suppliers still face challenges while installing them.