New research commissioned by the Smart Meter Central Delivery Body, the organisation created by government to lead public engagement during the national smart meter roll-out, has highlighted the extent of public dissatisfaction with the energy market in Great Britain.
The survey, carried out by Populus, reveals a widespread lack of trust in gas and electricity suppliers as well as significant levels of confusion and anxiety about energy bills.
More than half (51%) of those questioned in the survey of 10,000 adults across Great Britain said they did not trust any energy supplier. This lack of trust was greatest among low income and vulnerable groups, with almost six in ten (57%) of respondents living in fuel poverty or with a disability distrustful of any energy supplier.
However, distrust was significantly lower amongst people who have a smart meter. More than four in ten (42%) who did not have a smart meter replied “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” to the statement “I do not trust my energy supplier”.
This figure fell to under a third (30%) among those who did have a smart meter.
The current lack of transparency around energy usage and bills has left significant numbers feeling out of control.
More than a third (37%) are concerned that their energy bills are not accurate, while an even larger number are in the dark about their usage – over two fifths (41%) of respondents were worried that they are paying for more energy than they consume, and one in ten (10%) did not know how much they were currently paying for energy.
More than a third (36%) of respondents said that they do not understand their energy bill.
The government is currently leading a programme to install smart meters in more than 25 million households across Great Britain.
Though the programme is in its early stages, nearly half (44%) of consumers express an interest in having a smart meter installed in their homes.
The programme will involve all the electricity and gas suppliers and networks to deliver this transformation of the nation’s energy infrastructure.
Smart Meter Central Delivery Body chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said: “Households need to be able to take control of their energy use and bills. For this to happen, the national smart meter roll-out is the essential transformation of the technology we use to buy energy. It will create newly empowered consumers, and increase trust in those who sell us gas and electricity – and our research bears this out.
“Today, still over a year ahead of the start of the mass roll-out of smart meters, almost half of consumers told us that they are interested in having a smart meter installed in their homes. That is why it is so important that government is driving forward the programme to install smart meters across Great Britain and has brought together all the electricity and gas suppliers and networks to deliver this critical upgrade to the energy infrastructure in all of our homes.”