Give people the tools to make savings

The National Audit Office’s judgement that smart meters may not result in a change in energy use by consumers over a sustained period has been challenged by the Energy Services and Technology Association. ESTA represents providers of energy efficiency products and services primarily to the non-domestic sector.

“The experience of our members has shown time and again that once consumers can see how much energy they are using and when, they take steps to cut out waste and save money,” said Alan Aldridge, the association’s Executive Director. “Up till now the majority of energy users in the UK have not had the opportunity to make those informed decisions. Amazingly, in this day and age, most people still have to put up with estimated bills. How can anyone be expected to make rational decisions based on what is essentially guesswork?”

Major challenges

According to Alan Aldridge, the time for delay has passed: “The UK is facing major challenges in terms of ensuring security of energy supply and in containing the ever rising energy cost for business and households. The Government often states that everyone has a part to play but to engage effectively people have to be given the right information. That means accurate, real-time information which is exactly what smart metering offers.”

He argues though that the NAO’s prediction could come true if people are not told how to use the equipment properly. “In industry and commerce, training is a key element in all energy efficiency programmes,” he says. “Without it, expensive technology can become just a box on the wall, a complete waste of money. I would hope the Government has plans in place to ensure that consumers are given help to make the most of the opportunities from this programme. Installers need to show people how to use the smart meter when they fit the units – just leaving written instructions behind will not get the job done!”

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