It’s hard to believe we wouldn’t turn off our gadgets if we knew how much cash we’d actually save by doing so. Why then does new research say we’re not interested?
Don’t you want to know how much that extra boil of the kettle or TV left on standby costs? PassivSystems’ latest research says two-thirds of us wouldn’t act on the information provided by an energy smart meter, even if we had one installed.
But this is at odds with our latest research here at Which? – only a quarter of you said smart meters wouldn’t make a difference to you at home.
What exactly is a smart meter?
Confusion about the differences between smart meters and energy monitors is rife. Fact: smart meters don’t tell you how much you’re spending on electricity, energy monitors do.
Smart meters were designed to send real-time energy usage data directly to energy suppliers, heralding an end to ‘getting the meter read’ and the horrors of estimated bills. But in their basic form, smart meters don’t provide any meaningful information about actual energy costs to the consumer at all.
Only through using an additional energy display will you see your household’s real-time energy use and costs. Which? has successfully campaigned for these displays to come with smart meters, since they let you see how much energy’s been used whenever you want. This information could help guide you to the most cost effective energy tariff and help work out where you can cut energy use to save money.
Results muddied by dubious motives
The negative vibes from the folk down at PassivSystems are likely due to the fact that they’re in the business of energy. I have no doubt that they’re aware of the differences between smart meters and energy monitors. But it’s in PassivSystems’ interest to fan the flames of confusion and scepticism.
It is, after all, a company that specialises in selling pricey smart technology to turn your heating appliances off for you. The last thing it needs is for us to believe that turning off electrical gadgets ourselves is all it takes to save money and feel environmentally upright.
In the press release that accompanied its results, PassivSystems CEO Colin Calder was scathing about government plans for smart meters, saying “smart meters are not an attractive or compelling proposition for the end-user”.
But perhaps it’s PassivSystems that should be worried. If three-quarters of people wouldn’t act on energy data, how many of them are going to splash £400 on an intelligent energy control system?