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New research shows British consumers are ready to embrace new energy tariffs

Research by UCL’s Energy Institute, supported by Smart Energy GB, shows that nearly one in three (30%) of British consumers would be in favour of switching to an energy tariff with variable prices at different times of day.

Is it time? Consumer attitudes to time of use tariffs is the first national study of consumer attitudes to new time of use tariffs.  It is being launched today (10 March 2015) in Parliament, at a meeting chaired by Dan Byles MP, the Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smart Cities.

Key findings in the research are:

  • Nearly one in three (30%) of British consumers would be in favour of switching to an energy tariff with variable prices at different times of day.  
  • Consumers say they are keenest on a tariff that would enable their energy supplier to support them by automating control over key areas of energy use in return for incentives such as discounted bills.
  • All consumers, including those on low incomes or using current prepayment meters, are just as likely to switch to time of use tariffs.  The research found no significant difference in attitudes by age, gender, employment status or type of housing.   
  • People who are currently on a time of use tariff (such as Economy 7), own a washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer with a timer, people who own electric or hybrid cars, and those who trust their energy supplier, are more likely to say they would switch to a demand-side response tariff.

The largescale use of time of use tariffs will only become possible as the national roll-out of smart meters reaches the majority of homes around the country.  Every home and microbusiness in England, Scotland and Wales will be offered an upgrade at no additional cost between now and 2020. 

Commenting on this research, Dan Byles MP, vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smart Cities, said:  

“If we want Britain to have a more sustainable energy supply, we are going to need to look seriously at the use of time of use tariffs on a large scale.  Today’s research shows that many consumers will have a real appetite for using time of use tariffs to buy gas and electricity when it is best value.”

Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Smart Energy GB, the consumer campaign for the national roll-out of smart meters in Great Britain, said:

“The way we buy and use gas and electricity is rapidly being transformed by the roll-out of smart meters.  Smart meters put consumers in control by providing accurate and clear information on the cost of gas and electricity.  If, in the future, we want to give consumers new options for buying gas and electricity at different prices at different times of day then it is crucial that we ensure that every home in the country has a smart meter.  It is a smart meter that means that every household will have the clear, easy to use and easy to understand information to be able to choose when it is best value to buy and use energy.”

Dr David Shipworth, academic lead on this research at the UCL Energy Institute, said: “Smart energy tariffs will only work if people choose them, like them, and respond to them. This is the first national study to look at what might make people choose such tariffs. This is important work that will be really helpful in developing energy products that people actually want."





UCL’s Energy Institute used two large-scale surveys, each completed by around 2000 people, to measure British consumer demand for electricity tariffs which aim to influence when people use electricity (demand-side response tariffs). Such tariffs should help make electricity cleaner, more affordable and more secure in future. In particular, they tested whether the tariff design and type of consumer marketing affected their popularity.  The surveys were conducted as randomised control trials, dividing participants into groups which each saw a different tariff design or marketing message.

About Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB is the independent organisation tasked by government to engage England, Scotland and Wales, during the roll-out of smart meters to every home in Great Britain. The organisation will design and deliver the consumer communications that support the nationwide roll-out.  To find out more visit:  and to find out how you can get a smart meter from your energy supplier please go to

Smart Energy GB media contacts

For more information including interview requests, case studies of smart meter users, infographics, photography and video content please contact the Smart Energy GB media team:

Lucy Maggs: [email protected], 020 3751 0744 / 07753 216140

Alicia Painter: [email protected], 0203 751 0745


About smart meters

Smart meters are new technology, which will transform how we buy gas and electricity. They provide consumers with near 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 Great Britain’s energy infrastructure. Between now and 2020, every home and microbusiness across England, Scotland and Wales will be offered a smart meter. Nearly one million 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; for example online, over the phone, via SMS message, at shops, or through smart phone apps.

Find out how you can get a smart meter from your energy supplier.