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Report questions smart meter energy savings

Ian Grant

Consumers will demand discounts of 10% to 20% in return for allowing energy firms to use smart meters to regulate their energy use, according to a report from management consultancy Accenture.

After speaking to more than 9,000 consumers in 17 countries, Accenture found only 16% would give electricity providers remote control of their household appliances. Most wanted steep price discounts and the ability to override the energy companies.

Almost half of consumers would be deterred from joining electricity management programmes if their electricity bills rose as a result, the authors found.

The findings raise questions over the actual savings that might accrue from the government's planned £10bn programme to replace the UK's 47 million gas and electricity meters with so-called smart or networked meters.

The authors of the report, Understanding Consumer Preferences in Energy Efficiency, found 35% of respondents wanted a 20% discount for giving energy suppliers remote control of their appliances, while 24% said they would give it up for a 10% discount.

Consumers were reluctant to disclose their energy use data to energy suppliers, seeing it as a potential invasion of their privacy, or that it could be used against them.

Two in five respondents said they would be put off by energy suppliers profiting from selling energy consumers had saved, and one-third would be put off if it gave their electricity provider greater access to their personal electricity consumption data.

Three-quarters of consumers believed they knew what they needed to do to lower their energy bills, and 71% did not trust energy firms' energy saving plans. This trust was lowest in deregulated markets, such as Germany, Sweden and the UK. Even in regulated markets such as Singapore, China and South Korea, more than half of consumers remained suspicious.

The most trusted sources of energy-efficiency advice were environmental associations and academic and scientific associations, cited by 53% and 51% of respondents, respectively.

"Utilities need to articulate a simple and intuitive value proposition that resonates with the end-consumer," said Greg Guthridge, managing director of Accenture's utility customer care practice.


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