Consumer Attitudes Towards Smart Metering

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26th August 2011 13:49 - Utilities

On June 22nd 2011 Ali Sims, who heads up Utilities Research at DJS Research Ltd attended the Market Force Smart Metering Update in London. The following details the results of an on going set of surveys being carried out by Ernst and Young; asking over 2000 consumers their attitudes towards Smart Metering.

Motivations for having a Smart Meter are generally cost orientated and saving money outweighs any positive environmental impact as a motivation for having a smart meter:

• Almost half (49%) agreed that they would have a smart meter installed if it entitled them to a £25 discount off their next bill;
• Three in ten (29%) would do so if the installer explained some simple ways for them to save money on their energy bill;
• Less than one in five (16%) said they would have the meter installed to impact climate change.

The survey suggests that 14% of respondents would not want a smart meter at all. Similarly, the same number stated that they would consider switching energy supplier in order to have access to a smart meter sooner. This suggests that consumers lack knowledge and understanding of the benefits of smart meters – for comparison, 58% of industry experts questioned stated that they would change supplier to gain a smart meter sooner.

The survey also considered the possibility of alternative revenue streams for energy suppliers:

• A third of consumers (33%) would invest in solar panels for their home;
• Over four in ten (42%) would be interested in intelligent white goods (such as fridges, freezers etc.) that would maximise the usage of cheaper energy tariffs for them.

There is also potential for the creation of a new market space through the involvement of new brands in the energy sector as respondents to the survey suggested they would consider moving from traditional energy suppliers to other brands if there was a perception that other brands could offer greater value for money. When asked who they thought would provide the better value for money more than two in five respondents (42%) cited companies such as Google or Amazon. Traditional suppliers were cited by 32% and a quarter named supermarkets or high-street retailers.

For Ali Sims, the key questions solicited by the final piece of the report relate to the idea of partnership or rivalry with the non-energy companies, whose brands have been designed around conveying a value for money message. Energy companies should consider whether they are prepared for the possible interference of other brands in the utilities sector.

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