Rolling out intelligent energy meters could help the UK reduce its energy usage by up to 15 per cent, five times current government estimates, the world’s biggest smart meter maker has said.
Answering Energy Source readers’ questions, Cameron O’Reilly and Steve Cunningham, the CEO and UK and Ireland chief (respectively) of Landis+Gyr, said the UK was being too pessimistic in their forecast for how much impact smart meters could make.
Even if the immediate benefit seen by home owners is the 2-3 per cent saving that the UK government’s model assumes, it is still a profoundly valuable exercise.
But we seriously doubt that those conservative savings will be the best that the UK achieves. Landis+Gyr’s experience is that deployments which have focused on encouraging energy budgeting have delivered usage reductions of 10-15 per cent, even when they have had far less sophisticated capabilities than those planned here. Our energy retailers are some of the most innovative in the world – it would be a surprise if, in partnership with their customers, they couldn’t at least match those figures.
Smart meters enable utilities to monitor the energy consumption of individual households and relay that information to the consumer to help them reduce their bills. The government has promised to create the infrastructure needed to handle the data involved, but is still consulting on the exact functions of a central communications body, currently called the DataCommunicationsComm.
There have been concerns however about whether the initial costs of rolling out smart meters will filter back to the consumer through higher energy bills. But the government has claimed the roll out will save households £23 a year by 2020. If Landis+Gyr is right about the higher savings likely to flow from the extra information, that amount could rise.
O’Reilly and Cunningham also claimed new smart meter-generated bills would make current bills look like telecoms bills before they were itemised. They said:
Some readers will remember when telephone bills looked like energy bills do today – no detail and no understanding of what drives spend or what I or my supplier could do to reduce that spend. But for anyone under 40 that probably sounds ridiculous: how can you manage how much you spend on phone calls if you have no idea how your actions impacted that spend?
The full Q&A session will be published on Energy Source later on Friday.