Smart meter scheme may have 'little effect'

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A Government scheme to fit every UK home with a smart meter to monitor energy has been "rushed" through, according to a new study.

The £11.8bn scheme to add smart meters to 26 million homes by 2020 was designed to help householders save energy and get cheaper gas and electricity bills.

However, critics of the scheme claim billpayers will face rising costs to pay for the scheme - which a new study suggests will not effect energy use at all.

The study took place during a 12-month pilot of the scheme, involving thousands of households across the UK. It found the meters "may not have much effect" on energy use, according to the Daily Mail.

Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne has said the meters will help families track their energy use by the minute, so they can cut down on waste.

As well as being designed to cut energy use, the meters are also hoped to close the gap between 'estimated' bills from suppliers, and their customers' actual energy use.

The Energy Saving Trust supports the introduction of smart meters, saying they should save around ten per cent a year on energy bills, or £105 a year.

However, a study by the University of East Anglia has questioned the cost of the scheme, as well as the potential upheaval of their installation.

Dr Tom Hargreaves, from the university's school of environmental sciences, said: "Rather than feeling motivated to save more energy and money, householders were left feeling frustrated and despondent that the changes they could make were very small, and they were receiving little or no meaningful support from anywhere else, such as government and local authorities."

Whilst many families used the meters regularly at first, the novelty quickly wore off, according to the study. The meters also caused domestic arguments between parents and kids, as well as partners.

Whilst the Energy Saving Trust has highlighted reasonable savings, consumer advice group Which? says in some cases, the meters will probably only equate to savings of £23 a year.

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