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Smart meter owners report higher bills than savings, says survey

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New survey findings published by the ECA suggest that having a smart meter installed at home doesn’t necessarily mean lower energy bills.

In the ECA’s recent YouGov survey of adults who are eligible for a smart meter, just one in 14 respondents with a smart meter (7%) said that having one had reduced their energy bills, while one in 11 (9%) said they had increased. This is despite one in four (23%) reporting that the main reason for having a smart meter installed was to reduce their energy bills.

Overall, nearly half of respondents (47%) said they were ‘very unlikely’ to have a smart meter installed during the next 12 months, with 20% ‘fairly unlikely’ to do so. Just 5% of respondents said they were ‘very likely’ to do so, with a further 13% ‘fairly likely’ to have one installed in the next year.

ECA energy advisor Luke Osborne commented, “These ECA findings suggest that smart meter users seldom report lower energy bills – which seems at odds with the government’s ‘save money’ message.

“Smart meters can play a role in stimulating a shift towards a lower carbon future. However, the government needs to do far more to incentivise change and explain the benefits of using smart meters if they are to increase consumer confidence and take-up in the near future.”

While 61% of smart meter owners reported that they had ‘no issues’ with their smart meter, almost half (45%) reported they had experienced ‘no benefits’ in having one.  The benefit that came out on top for respondents with a smart meter was ‘more accurate billing’ (29%), while one in 11 (9%) cited ‘connectivity issues’ as a problem.

Furthermore, fear of data breaches and cyber-attacks came out as the top reason (30% of respondents) for not getting a smart meter, among those unlikely to do so. However, of those with a smart meter, less than 1% reported any issue with data security or hacking.

Osborne added, “Public awareness of data security has increased significantly recently. These ECA findings show that the government must do more to explain to the public why smart meters do not present a security risk from hacking or other data breaches.”

Less than one in three adults who are eligible for a smart meter (32%) surveyed have a smart meter installed, despite a government commitment for all UK homes to have one by 2020.

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