Smart meters: Consumers need more education
Last week, government figures revealed that the public increasingly likes the idea of smart meters, but is not certain what they are.
As a result, UK smart meter maker Itron is calling for more consumer education.
“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done,” said Nigel Hughes, Itron’s director of energy. “What we have seen from smart meter deployment in the UK and the rest of the world is that, for an effective deployment, it is quite critical to have consumer engagement.”
Dr Mark England, CEO of UK smart meter maker Sentec said something similar last week: “The UK has genuinely learnt from the large consumer backlash experienced in the US market that early customer engagement is key to success.”
The view of Itron’s Hughes is that the Government and energy suppliers must share the burden.
“The government and energy suppliers have to reach the 50% of people that have not heard,” he said. “My view is that there will be a proportion of education by Government, and significant proportion will fall into the hands of energy suppliers.”
Hughes also said that the ‘in-home display’ – the device linked to the smart meter that will show consumers were they are wasting energy and money – concept needs some work as it is pointless to install one if it will not be used.
“From industry point, we would like to see more people using data in an effort to reduce consumption. In-home display use typically results in 2-3% energy saving,” he said. However, the in-home display has a cost associated with it which could be reduced if no one is using it. There are alternatives, like web pages, media channels and smartphone apps. This is probably where we have work to do.”
Itron is a US listed company that designs and makes smart meters in the UK.