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It’s no surprise that smart meters are proving unpopular with the public

13 October 2017

3:06 PM

13 October 2017

3:06 PM

Yesterday, Ross Clark argued over on Coffee House that the government’s Clean Growth Strategy – that is, a promise to insulate a million of the leakiest homes with the aid of £3.6 billion raised through the Energy Company Obligation (aka, a levy on all energy customers’ bills) – was a dubious government target. The strategy, while well-meaning in theory, is never going to work, he argues.

Many would argue that another government strategy – that is, the push to install smart meters in our homes – is similarly dubious. Having said that, it’s all very well offering the new technology to people (though there have been reports of energy companies ‘bullying’ customers towards the new meters, which is a whole other matter). It’s another thing convincing people that they need a smart meter in their home. Oh, and like the new Clean Growth Strategy mentioned above, the bill for introducing ‘free’ smart meters is also being footed by the UK’s energy customers (you and me, that is), whether they like it or not.

The Daily Mail reports that some members of the public are so ‘anti’ smart meters that they have padlocked their meter box so it can’t be changed while he’s not at home. Others resent the extreme tactics being used by some energy providers to ‘push’ smart meters; others still are worried about the safety of the data that the smart meters collect. Even our Real Life correspondent Melissa Kite had one foisted on her the other day when she was out.

‘The builders let the guy in. I came home to find an evil little machine on my hallway table blinking about how much power I was using every second of the day. “Total Today £0.14,” it said, at 16:36. Then at 18:33: “Total Today £0.18.”

Why not issue me with a machine measuring how many breaths I’ve taken, counting down the gasps I’ve got left until I’m dead?’

Well, quite.

On top of all that, there’s no proof that smart meters will actually save customers any money at all. The premise is built on the hope that as people see the numbers gradually tick by on their meter, they’ll be encouraged to turn off those extra lights in the downstairs bathroom, or turn down the heating a notch. ‘Gaz and Leccy’ may well be running wild in your house, but a smart meter won’t put a stop to that. All it will do is let you keep an eye on their activity. The rest is up to you.

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