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Survey reveals that people don't know what smart meters do

There’s plenty of confusion when it comes to the rollout of smart meters across the UK, and exactly how they can benefit the customers of utility companies, according to a new study from SQS and YouGov.

Indeed, many consumers believe that the technology is really for the benefit of the energy giants themselves, perhaps a suspicion that isn’t entirely surprising when you look at the sort of price hikes we’ve faced in recent times – and incidents of inaccurate billing and similar issues.

YouGov found that 37 per cent of respondents to its study said that smart metering will benefit the energy companies the most, with only 28 per cent believing that they’ll be a boon for consumers.

27 per cent felt that their energy company’s past record of poor customer service, delayed response to issues and billing errors did not bode well for a successful implantation of smart metering.

However, 52 per cent of respondents said they’d welcome energy tariffs that reflected their actual usage, and 22 per cent were in favour of personalised customer support – areas where smart metering can help. Accurate billing was also a very important issue for 48 per cent.

Angus Panton, Director of Power and Communications at SQS, commented: “The smart meter roll out is a wake-up call for established energy providers. Our study shows that consumers want targeted, value-added services and greater control over their energy use, but don’t always trust their existing provider to deliver.”

“There is widespread cynicism about the viability of big IT projects and 62 per cent doubt smart metering will happen in the shifting timeframes. Despite the cynicism, there is an overall customer desire for the advantages and benefits smart meters will deliver.”