LONDON Around 40,000 households in the U.K. are to take part in energy saving trials in a bid to cut household bills and help in the fight against climate change.
Contracts have been signed with EDF Energy, E.ON U.K., Scottish and Southern Energy, and Scottish Power to conduct the trials; and are funded by £10million from the U.K. government matched by a similar amount from the companies involved.
The trials will see around 15,000 households receiving smart meters and 8,000 more receiving clip on real time display units for their existing meters. The other households in the trial will be testing new ways of receiving information to help them cut their energy use.
Clip on real time display units can tell people how much energy they are using, and how much it is costing when individual appliances are turned on. Smart meters allow energy suppliers to communicate directly with their customers, removing the need for meter-readings and ensuring entirely accurate bills with no estimates. Smart meters tell people about their energy use either through linked display units or in other ways, such as through the internet or the television.
“Changing consumer habits is vital if we are to cut our energy use and reduce the impact of climate change. Smart meters provide the cutting edge technology to enable this to happen. The results of the trials will provide invaluable evidence to support the future rollout of displays and smart meters; helping to cut consumer bills and cut our carbon emissions,” said business and enterprise secretary, John Hutton.
The trials should test out consumers' response to better information on their energy use by providing access to information about consumption and energy costs through visual display units that can be displayed round the house, over the internet and even through digital TV.
The trial will also enable energy suppliers to provide enhanced billing information with advice to consumers on how they can cut down their energy bills; and providing a breakdown of energy use to the customer to explore a range of tariffs for consumption at different times of the day. It will also look at increasing the frequency of billing as well as the impact of more accurate bills.
Smart meters are expected to be rolled out to most households within the next ten years, and all but the smallest businesses in the next five years.
Government has also proposed that real time display units be provided with any new meters fitted from 2008, and to all households that request them between 2008-2010. It is estimated that these short-term measures will deliver savings of 300,000 tones of carbon per year by 2020.
The trials are being managed by Ofgem and will be carried out throughout the U.K. and will last two years with results being available on a six-monthly basis.