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Attitudes around buying gas and electricity with smart pay-as-you-go

16th November 2014

NEW INDEPENDENT RESEARCH: BRITAIN’S PAY-AS-YOU-GO REVOLUTION WILL TRANSFORM THE WAY WE BUY GAS AND ELECTRICITY

  • Almost half (48%) of Great Britain wants to use smart pay-as-you-go services to buy their gas and electricity
  • Younger people and those living in the North set to drive this revolution
  • Three out of five (59%) of 18-34 year olds are interested in using smart pay-as-you-go
  • Over three quarters (76%) of people currently using prepayment credit key meters are interested in smart pay-as-you-go

London, UK, 17th November 2014: New independent research published today reveals that almost half (48 per cent) of the Great British population would like to use a smart energy meter in pay-as-you-go mode to buy their gas and electricity, three times the number of people currently using prepayment meters. The findings confirm that Britain’s pay-as-you-go revolution – which has already transformed the way we pay for services such as mobile phones and travelcards – is set to reach the energy industry, and will alter the experience of buying gas and electricity for millions of households.

The research, Attitudes around buying gas and electricity with smart pay-as-you-go, was carried out by Populus for Smart Energy GB, the consumer campaign for smart meters. It shows that even at the beginning of the six year national roll-out of smart meters, almost half of people would like to use a smart meter in pay-as-you-go mode. At the moment only 16 per cent use the existing prepayment system to pay for gas and electricity[1].

 These findings reflect a wider national trend towards quick and easily manageable ways to pay for and manage services such as car hire, travel and telecommunications.

Every household in Great Britain will be offered a smart meter between now and 2020. Pay-as-you-go customers will be able to pay via phone, online, or even via a smart phone app. Smart meters will be able to operate in pay-as-you-go or debit mode, meaning that those wanting to pay-as-you-go don’t need to have a different meter installed.

It is the younger generation driving this trend, with three out of five (59 per cent) of 18-34 year olds interested in using a smart meter operating in pay-as-you-go mode and 68 per cent seeing the benefit of using a smart phone app.

People in the North are the most keen to embrace technology in order to further manage their household costs. The North East (57 per cent), Yorkshire/Humberside (51 per cent) the North West (50 per cent) and are the three regions most interested in smart pay-as-you-go.

The desire for smart pay-as-you-go was also particularly strong among people currently using prepayment meters, with over three quarters (76 per cent) wanting to use smart pay-as-you-go.

 Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “People want flexibility over the way they pay for gas and electricity. In a world where we are increasingly using pay-as-you-go across all areas of our lives, from phones, to travel and even buying music by the song, consumers are excited by the same level of convenience coming to gas and electricity.

 “This research shows that there is a national appetite for a far more convenient way to pay for energy. In particular, it will transform the experience for prepayment customers. Today’s prepayment system presents real challenges for many people, for example having to go to the shop to top up, or needing to access their meter to check how much credit they have. It is clear that people want greater control and visibility over how they buy and use energy – and smart pay-as-you-go, made possible by the national roll-out of smart meters, is a big step towards this.”

-ENDS-

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Smart Energy GB 

Smart Energy GB is the independent organisation tasked by government to engage the country during the roll-out of smart meters to every home in Great Britain. The organisation will design and deliver the consumer communications that supports the nationwide roll-out.

Smart Energy GB is responsible for helping people to understand how they will be able to benefit from this new technology and when it will be available to them. It has a particular duty to ensure that low-income, prepayment and vulnerable consumers benefit from the smart meter roll-out.

Smart Energy GB media contacts

For more information, please contact the Smart Energy GB media team:

Lucy Maggs: [email protected], 020 3751 0744

Alicia Painter: [email protected], 0203 751 0745

About smart meters and smart pay-as-you-go

Smart meters are an exciting innovation which will transform how we buy gas and electricity. They provide consumers with real-time information on energy usage in pounds and pence, accurate bills and control over their gas and electricity use.

The smart meter roll-out is an essential technology upgrade, unprecedented in its scale, to improve our nations’ energy infrastructure. Between now and 2020, every home across England, Scotland and Wales will be offered a smart meter. Nearly 500,000 smart meters have already been installed. 

Smart meters deliver:

Real-time information, in pounds and pence, of what you are spending and using on gas and electricity

Accurate bills, so you know that you are only paying for what you have actually used

Greater ease and confidence to work out whether you are getting the best deal, or should switch to a better deal

With smart pay-as-you-go (smart prepayment), users will be able to top up their credit quickly and conveniently in a number of different ways as well as at any PayPoint outlet, including online, over the phone, via SMS message or a smart phone app. Credit will be loaded automatically onto the meter when you pay, with no need to physically insert a key into the meter itself. Smart pay-as-you-go has the potential to reduce costs and to balance the difference between pay-as-you-go and other ways of paying for your gas and electricity. Your meter will also be able to change quickly and easily, between pay-as-you-go and other payment methods, such as direct debit, or quarterly bills, should you want to.


Summary of key findings

Almost half (48 per cent) of the Great British population is interested in using smart pay-as-you-go services to buy their gas and electricity.

  • Those in the North East, Yorkshire/Humberside and North West identify most with the benefits offered by a smart meter operating in pay-as-you-go mode.
  • 65 per cent of the population like the idea of being able to manage credit online. This figure increases to 75 per cent for both the North East and North West.
  • Smart pay-as-you-go benefits resonate in particular with younger audiences, with three out of five (59 per cent) of 18-34 year olds being interested in using smart pay-as-you-go.
  • A handheld device showing how much money is left in credit is seen to be one of the biggest benefits of having a smart meter operating in pay-as-you-go mode (74 per cent of the population agree that this would be a benefit to them).
  • Over three quarters (76 per cent) of people currently using prepayment credit key meters are interested in smart pay-as-you-go. 
  • 71 per cent of prepayment customers agree that not needing to top up at a shop would be a benefit to them and 69 per cent like the idea of not having to physically access the meter.
  • 64 per cent of prepayment customers like the idea of being able to switch between pay-as-you-go and other payment methods.
  • There is appetite for using a smartphone app to manage energy spend, particularly amongst prepayment customers, with 74 per cent identifying a benefit of a smartphone app.


Research methodology

Populus undertook a bespoke, 10 minute, online survey examining the appetite and interest for using smart meters operating in pay-as-you-go mode. The sample was nationally representative of Great Britain, with quotas set on: age, gender, region and Socio-Economic Group. All respondents were 18 years and older, with a total sample of 3,710 being achieved. Data collection took place between: 9th - 14th October 2014.

[1] Ofgem

Download the Attitudes around buying gas and electricity with smart pay-as-you-go PowerPoint presentation.