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UK smart meter survey critical of ‘money saving’ message

Attempts by UK authorities to encourage the take up of smart meters are failing to address perceptions around cost benefits and security, according to new findings

The Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) has urged government to rethink how it is promoting smart meter use, citing a new user survey critical of their cost saving benefits.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the ECA of over 2000 adults eligible to use a smart meter found that only a third of respondents have opted to adopt such a device. The government has previously committed for all UK homes to have a smart meter by 2020.

Of the members of the survey group that have fitted a smart meter, only seven per cent reported a reduction in their energy bills from installing such a system. One in 11 of the total survey group has meanwhile reported an increase in their bills, according to the findings.

Just under a quarter of these same respondents - 23 per cent – said that a reduction in energy bills had been the main reason for having a smart meter fitted in their properties.

Luke Osborne, energy advisor with the ECA, said the findings found the experience of some smart meter users was at odds with current government stance on promoting uptake of the devices as a means to save money.

“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.”

Cyber security and the potential of data breaches were identified in the survey as another significant concern from respondents. 30 per cent of those surveyed highlighted the potential of cyber attacks as discouraging them from installing a device. According to the ECA, less than one per cent of the survey group that had installed a survey had reported issues concerning data security or hacking.

Mr 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.”

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