The Indianpost

Smart meters save just £23 as energy taxes and bills rise

So-called smart meters, digital devices which will be installed in all households and businesses, are designed to end unreliable estimated gas and electricity bills and stop the need for companies to send out meter inspectors.
Instead, information about how much energy consumers have used will be sent electronically to their suppliers.
However, documents published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) have confirmed that households will have to pay for the £11.3 billion roll out, and that they will only save £23 a year by 2020.
That saving equates to just 2 per cent of the current average household energy bill of £1,132 and does not take into account forecasts that gas and electricity bills will climb substantially over the next decade. Ofgem, the industry regulator, has predicted that bills are likely to rise by between £168 and £700 a year by 2016 because of the need by the energy companies to invest vast sums in new power stations.
Various green measures are likely to increase household bills even further. Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch.com, the price comparison site, said:“The average household energy bill is already £1,132 a year with £84 of that made up by hidden taxes. Policies launched under the previous Government are expected to add a further 6 per cent or £72 in levies over the next decade – this means that the hidden taxes on our energy bills will add up to £156 a year, far outweighing the potential £23 net saving offered through smart metering.”
The scheme, which is already being piloted in some parts of the country, will start in earnest in 2014 and be finished by 2019, one year earlier than under plans initiated by the previous government, with all 53 million businesses and households seeing their old-style meters being replaced.
According to Decc, the scheme will save people £6 billion, cut costs to suppliers by around £11 billion which it said should be passed onto customers, and save the UK £1.5 billion thanks to reductions in greenhouse gases.
A net benefit of £7.3 billion would be seen over the next 20 years, officials said, equating to a £23 a year saving by 2020 rising to a saving of £42 by 2030.
One key concern from campaigners is that most of the savings will be achieved by consumers only if they use the meter readings to change their behaviour. The meters will display how much energy consumers have used and what it has cost them, along with a message indicating whether this is higher or lower than normal.
Some are worried that many consumers will not know how to change their behaviour to save money. Zoe McLeod, energy expert at Consumer Focus, the watchdog, said: “To get the full benefits of this new technology customers will need support and advice on how to cut their bills and action to ensure that improvements in customer service are delivered.”
Others have said they ware worried that the roll out will be used by gas and electricity companies to try and sell consumers a range of new energy-saving products. The Decc documents make clear suppliers cannot conclude a sale while installing a meter, but they can offer advice.
Peter Vicary-Smith, the chief executive of Which?, the watchdog, said: “The Government needs to ensure that the industry doesn’t use the roll-out as a green light to cross-sell products and services, ensuring that consumer data is fully protected. Although the Government has acknowledged these concerns, there must be zero tolerance to any companies found to be abusing this opportunity, or consumer confidence in the roll-out will be severely undermined.”
Chris Huhne, the Climate Change and Energy Secretary said: “Smart meters are a key part of giving us more control over how we use energy at home and at work, helping us to cut out waste and save money.
“In combination with our plans to reform the electricity market and introduce the green deal for homes and businesses, the roll-out of smart meters will help us keep the lights on while reducing emissions and getting the best possible deal for the consumer.”

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