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Why Smart Meters Continue to Disappoint

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Henry Craver's picture
Small Business Owner , Self-employed

As a small business owner, I'm always trying to find ways to cut costs and boost the dependability of my services. To that end, I've become increasingly invested in learning about energy saving...

  • Member since 2018
  • 839 items added with 394,835 views
  • May 5, 2022

I’ve always been fascinated by the smart meter rollout in the UK. As of last June, there were 25.2 million smart meters in homes, small businesses, and parts of the public sector in Great Britain. I couldn’t find up to date stats, but it’s safe to assume many more have been deployed since. 

The centralized nature of the smart meter rollout has made it easier for national media outlets and research centers to provide comprehensive coverage on the issue, something that would be much more complicated here in the U.S. While the smart meters haven’t proven controversial in the same way as vaccines, for example, have, they’ve still been a general disappointment across the pond. The vast majority of articles and studies on the topic point to the devices’ ineffectiveness. 

 One particular study from Keene University sticks out in my mind. Here’s how it was summed up on the University website last year:

“Keele University has recently released the findings of a study they conducted on England’s smart meter rollout. The research team found that the public’s awareness of energy efficiency strategies are not much better than when the rollout began, about a decade ago. The study also revealed that its participants, although not unconcerned with the environment, largely believed their own energy consumption habits were unlikely to make a difference in the fight against climate change. 

“Professor Fan said this study contributes to the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of smart meters and in-home energy displays, adding that little appears to have changed in the perception and experience of energy feedback in the decade since the programme was launched.”’

The continuing energy crisis brought the public’s attention to smart meters in a way few could have imagined a few years ago. Soaring utility bills in the UK have people finally interested in conserving electricity, and many are naturally looking to the devices they were promised could do just that. Unfortunately, many are finding that smart meters really can’t, even with enthusiastic owners, save any money. 

I recently came across an article at The Engineer that explains the current smart meters’ short comings:

“However, they have been largely oversold against their capability to control and automate energy decisions, which remains a missing building block to truly enable a dynamic participation of flexible consumers into the energy system. The idea that simply the provision of smart metering information is enough to allow consumer participation is therefore flawed.

So conventional smart meters provide a good reference point for consumers who want to start taking control of energy management: but another layer of ‘smartness’ is required to complement them. As the availability of new and smarter devices improves and homeowners become aware of the benefits of their additional smartness we should expect that adoption of home flexible tariffs will improve over time – to the benefit of both homeowners’ pockets and the environment.”

As so often is the case with new technologies, the impact of smart meters was predicted to come far too early. However, though commentators often overpredict the speed of technological change, they often underestimate its ultimate impact. Hopefully, new smart appliances coupled with smart meters and home storage systems will bring on an era of more intelligent and customizable home energy consumption.



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Henry Craver's picture
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