This week will see the launch of a government initiative to put smart meters in every UK home, despite concerns being raised over the technology not working.
The £11 billion scheme will supposedly result in significant energy cost reductions through a decrease in energy consumption for households, but the installation of the devices is estimated to cost around £200 per home, which will be recouped from residents from energy suppliers, through an increase in their energy bills.
Elsewhere in the world, the meters have been abandoned, with official documents revealing that they save less energy than originally suggested, and that in most cases, they cost more than they save in the long-term.
It has also been revealed that smart meters will not work in a third of homes in the UK because of the complexity of the technology. This means those living in high-rise flats, basements and rural houses will miss out on the predicted savings.
The meters record gas and electricity consumption every 30 minutes and are able to show customers how much they are using and the cost attached. It is hoped that this real-time information will encourage households to reduce their energy consumption.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the installation of smart meters will result in the cost of energy bills falling by £26 per year by 2020. In addition, the government predicts that electricity usage will drop by 2.8 per cent and gas by two per cent.
A study of Dutch households revealed that the meters only resulted in a 0.9 per cent gas reduction and a 0.6 decrease in electricity consumption.
Furthermore, a risk assessment carried out by Ofgem – the energy watchdog – identified “a range of threats such as cyber, viruses and malicious software”.
Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “This is a typical government project – they set up a big scheme but don’t think about the costs to the consumer because it’s being driven by the energy companies.
“This expensive equipment is already out-of-date, because we could get the information on our smartphones.”
She added that the government needs to consider the advantages of the technology they are using and ensure that it benefits the end-customer.
The rollout of the smart meters will begin next year and will cost around £200 per home – an expense that will be passed on to the customer, according to energy companies.
Sir Bob Geldof is being hired to launch the campaign, alongside the mascots Gaz and Leccy.
Only time will tell if the smart meters benefit customers or if the UK, like other countries, will abandon the scheme.
Find out more about issues surrounding smart meters:
Read more about the proposed smart meter roll out with the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/09/geldof-gaz-and-leccy-kick-off-national-smart-meter-campaign
The Telegraph criticizes the government’s decision to go ahead with the scheme: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/10949647/Smart-meters-to-be-put-into-every-home-even-if-they-dont-work.html