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Smart meters proving to be a vital support for households this winter

  • A third of households with a smart meter (32 per cent) are using their in-home display more than usual this winter
  • Over half of UK billpayers are worried about their ability to afford their energy bills • More than a third (36 per cent) don’t know how much they are paying for electricity, while 46 per cent are unsure how much their monthly outgoings are for gas.
  • Being able to monitor their energy consumption has made 44 per cent of people with smart meters feel more in control, and 35 per cent feel more organised.
  • 27 per cent are currently finding their in-home display, and the energy information it provides reassuring
  • 56 per cent believe they could save money each month if they took a closer look at their outgoings
  • 50 per cent of UK billpayers are hoping to get a tighter grip on their finances this year 3rd February

3rd February 2022: With energy prices soaring, new research has found that nearly a third (32 per cent) of households with a smart meter are using their in-home display more than usual this winter, with over half (53 per cent) of UK billpayers saying they’re worried about their ability to afford their energy bills.

The research, commissioned by Smart Energy GB, also found that more than a third (36 per cent) of respondents said that they don’t know how much they are paying for electricity, while 46 per cent are unsure how much their monthly outgoings are for gas.

Smart meters, which are replacing analogue energy meters across the country, come with an in-home display which shows your energy usage in pounds and pence, in near real-time. Nearly half of all energy meters in Great Britain are now smart meters, and 2022 is set to be the year that smart meters outnumber traditional meters.

According to the research, over half (57 per cent) of respondents said that being able to see their energy use in pounds and pence was the most useful aspect of the smart meter’s in-home display, while nearly half (47 per cent) use it to monitor how much they have spent over a particular day, week and month. In addition, 55 per cent know how to use their in-home display to help manage their daily energy use, with the early evening being the most popular time to track energy usage for the day.

Smart meters are having an emotional impact as well as a practical one, with 44 per cent of respondents saying they feel more in control of their energy due to their in-home display and 27 per cent finding the visibility over their energy use reassuring.

With talk of bills increasing into spring, 94% of UK billpayers with a smart meter have implemented at least one of the energy saving habits listed in the survey, with 38 per cent of these changes directly inspired by their in-home display. These include turning off lights in a room no-one is using (60 per cent), only boiling the water they need in the kettle (51 per cent), using energy efficient lighting (48 per cent) and washing clothes at a lower temperature (43 per cent).

While smart meters are helpful for everyone, they can be especially useful for those on a prepay tariff, enabling customers to top up remotely via their mobile or online. Additionally, when a smart meter is in prepay mode, consumers can clearly see when they are close to using their emergency credit.

Victoria Bacon, Director at Smart Energy GB said:

“It is an extremely challenging time for many households at the moment and there are no quick fixes or easy answers, but a smart meter can be a really helpful tool for people wanting to feel a bit more in control, with more visibility on their energy use and avoiding the uncertainties of estimated bills.

“As we can see from our survey, more people are actively using their smart meter and in-home display during this difficult time and many are feeling more in control of their energy use as a result.

“There’s a lot of really helpful information available on how to use energy more efficiently on the Smart Energy GB website and from organisations like the Energy Saving Trust.

“If you are worried about paying your energy bills, help is available. A good place to start is Citizens Advice or Energy Saving Trust, who have more information on how to access support.”

Energy Saving Trust has come up with a list of tips on how to make your household more energy efficient, which could lead to a potential saving of £248 on your bills.

Laura McGadie, group head of energy, Energy Saving Trust, said:

“We understand that rising energy bills are causing concern for households across Great Britain. At Energy Saving Trust, we’re working to support people by sharing advice on simple energy saving actions you can take around the home, without compromising on health or lifestyle. Householders who take our twelve energy saving actions could save up to £248 on their annual energy bills, providing a level of protection against the projected increases.

“If you are concerned about paying your energy bill, we advise you speak to your supplier to find out what support is available and to check if you’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme. If you live in Scotland, contact Home Energy Scotland for free, impartial advice and to check your eligibility for funding options. In Wales, the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme offers advice and support on energy efficiency, money management and tariffs.”

Smart meters are available at no extra cost; simply contact your energy supplier to request an installation or visit smartenergyGB.org for more information.

Energy Saving Trust Tips:

To help people protect themselves against the projected increase, Energy Saving Trust has provided 12 simple energy saving steps to save energy, cash and reduce carbon. Households who take the below actions could save up to £248 on their annual energy bills:

1. Draught proof around windows, doors and floorboards by fitting foam strips, plastic seals or brushes – and seal gaps between floors and skirting boards with a simple sealant bought from any DIY store. Save £30 on your annual energy bills and 105kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 380 miles from Exeter to Hull.

2. Effective insulation of your hot water cylinder is important: even if you have thin spray foam or a 25mm jacket, you can benefit from increasing the insulation to a British Standard Jacket 80mm thick. Save £20 on your annual energy bills and 110kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 390 miles from Birmingham to Aberdeen.

3. Turn devices around the home off standby, or onto idle mode. Save £40 on your annual energy bills and 50kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 180 miles from Manchester to Newcastle.

4. Turn lights off when leaving a room. Save £14 on your annual energy bills and 17kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 61 miles from London to Canterbury.

5. Use your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle instead of higher temperatures. Save £10 on your annual energy bills and 12kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 43 miles from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

6. Similarly, only wash your clothes in your washing machine when you have a full load. Reduce your washing machine use by one run per week for a year. Save £10 on your annual energy bills and 13kg of CO2.

7. Only run your dishwasher when it is full to reduce the amount of water you use. Save £10 on your annual energy bills and 12kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 43 miles from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

8. Only boil water you need in your kettle. Save £8 on your annual energy bills and 10kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 36 miles from Sheffield to Leeds.

9. Fit an aerator onto your existing kitchen tap to reduce the amount of water coming out without affecting its effectiveness. An aerator is a small gadget with tiny holes - they attach to the spout of taps and are cheap and easy to install. Save £14 on your annual energy bills and 65kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 230 miles from London to Bristol and back again.

10. Keep your shower time to 4 minutes. Save £45 on your annual energy bills and 195kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 700 miles from Birmingham to Aberdeen and back again.

11. Swap one bath a week with a 4-minute shower. Save £7 on your annual energy bills and 35kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 120 miles from London to Bristol.

12. Avoid using a tumble dryer for your clothes: dry clothes on racks inside where possible or outside in warmer weather. Save £40 on your annual energy bills and 50kg of CO2, the equivalent to driving 180 miles from Manchester to Newcastle.

Find out more: energysavingtrust.org.uk

-ENDS-

Case study:

 Sarah is a mum-of-two in Chelmsford who is struggling to deal with rising energy bills, and has begun looking for a second job in a bid to help her family. She explains how her smart meter in-home display is helping her to keep an eye on her energy costs.

It’s really quite worrying at the moment, I just hope that in April the heating won’t need to be on too much. In the winter it needs to be on all the time. We saved quite a bit of money over the summer, thanks to tracking our energy use on the smart meter in-home display, but it’s very hard to make any savings at the moment with the rising bills. What I have been doing is turning the heating off earlier and putting the electric blanket on before we get into bed. I’m always turning the lights off after people leave the room to try and save a bit here and there as well.

We really started noticing our bills began to rise around Christmas time. The cost of living is just shooting up, and I’m looking for a second job to try and cope. I’m on a prepay smart meter and I’m currently adding on £2 or £3 a day just for gas, not even for the electricity. The in-home display that came with our smart meter is really helpful in showing me when we’re low on credit, and seeing our usage in near-real time helps me identify what we can do to make savings.

I can just glance quickly at the in-home display on the kitchen counter and I know exactly how much we’ve spent that day.

I’m really happy that we have had a smart meter installed. Even if we can’t save much right now, we can still keep an eye on the costs which is a big help. The display is right next to the sink so I’m always checking it. I look at it every time I want to use the washing machine or tumble dryer. If we’re really struggling then I’ll turn the hot water off for a while to try and save a bit.

 

Notes to editors

About the research

The survey of 2000 UK adults (responsible for household bills) was conducted by market research company OnePoll and data was collected between 22/12/2021 and 29/12/2021. Follow up research was conducted on samples of 1000 UK adults with a smart meter and was conducted by OnePoll. This data was collected between 21/01/2022 and 25/01/2022, and then between 26/01/2022 and 28/01/2022.

About smart meters and the rollout

Smart meters are the next generation of digital gas and electricity meters, providing automatic meter readings and near-real time energy use information for households and small businesses.

Smart meters and the information they provide will help Britain to achieve net zero by allowing for better management of energy demand and supply, providing people with the visibility needed to reduce their usage, and making the best and most efficient use of wind and solar power. Innovative technology and services enabled by smart metering is pivotal in allowing our country to decarbonise and have more electric vehicles. 25.2 million smart meters have already been installed across Britain.

About Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB is the not-for-profit, government-backed campaign helping everyone in Britain to understand the importance of smart meters and their benefits to people and the environment. Our national campaign is reaching homes and microbusinesses across England, Scotland and Wales. For more information visit smartenergyGB.org

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:

[email protected]; 07921 458 041

[email protected]; 07715 666 950

About Energy Saving Trust

Energy Saving Trust is an independent organisation dedicated to promoting energy efficiency, low carbon transport and sustainable energy use. We aim to address the climate emergency and deliver the wider benefits of clean energy as the UK transitions to net zero.

We empower householders to make better choices, deliver transformative programmes for governments and support businesses with strategy, research and assurance – enabling everyone to play their part in building a sustainable future. For more information, visit energysavingtrust.org.uk