Will smart meters be worth the money?


Millions of energy users in Britain are about to get a new metering system - smart meters - technology which has been rejected by Germany and found not to be cost-effective by other nations.
Smart meters send information on energy usage directly back to the energy supplier, which eliminates the need for meter readings.
Crucially, they also let the customer know just how much electricity or gas they are consuming during the day. This revelation is expected to change our behaviour, so that we switch off lights, turn down heating, and generally use less energy.

Overseas experience

The EU has said that all its members must provide smart meters by 2020 as long as there is a positive economic case to do so.
Germany employed accountancy firm Ernst and Young to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and they concluded it did not make economic sense, because most householders did not use enough energy to make it value for money. As a result, Germany declined to stage a mass roll-out.
Other countries have adopted smart meters with varied success. Auditors in Australia and Canada found it was too expensive.
Andrew Evans, from the auditor general's office in Victoria, Australia, said there would not be any overall benefit to consumers, and the net cost was $320m (£170m) paid by consumers through higher energy bills.
The British government has committed to getting 53 million smart meters into our homes and small businesses by the end of 2020, at an estimated cost of £11bn. That does not include Northern Ireland, which is still assessing whether smart meters would be in consumers' interests.

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