Smart meter statistics

How are Brits’ attitudes to energy changing?

While it can feel like you’re opening a can of worms each time you check your electricity bill, having an idea of the sort of figures to expect can make the whole experience much less stressful. With the help of a smart meter, you can avoid sky-high energy bills, become more aware of your environmental impact and keep track of every watt of energy you’re using.

In 2009, the governmental body BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) kicked off the Smart Meters Implementation Programme, a scheme that pledged to provide a total of 53 million smart meters to over 26 million homes, smaller businesses and public sector premises. The government’s original target was to have them installed in all homes by 2019, a goal that was later postponed to 2020. The rollout of the programme began eight years ago in 2011, and with only one more year to go before the government’s target is meant to be reached, what does the public think about smart meters? And, crucially, has the use of smart meters resulted in changed behaviour among consumers?

Number of smart meters

15.3 million operational smart meters have been installed as part of the scheme, according to data recorded in March 2019. This equates to an average of 564,474 meters installed per quarter across the UK.

Gas Electricity All
Q3 2012 32 36 68
Q4 2012 1,570 1,671 3,241
Q1 2013 10,963 12,678 23,641
Q2 2013 35,130 45,456 80,586
Q3 2013 35,190 57,632 92,822
Q4 2013 39,730 55,603 95,333
Q1 2014 37,480 61,164 98,644
Q2 2014 37,113 60,216 97,329
Q3 2014 53,764 76,227 129,991
Q4 2014 60,882 82,081 142,963
Q1 2015 85,202 126,515 211,717
Q2 2015 112,055 160,543 272,598
Q3 2015 138,150 197,911 336,061
Q4 2015 169,238 233,400 402,638
Q1 2016 233,284 306,842 540,126
Q2 2016 268,262 354,641 622,903
Q3 2016 353,668 461,304 814,972
Q4 2016 409,670 525,776 935,446
Q1 2017 446,000 581,680 1,027,680
Q2 2017 460,068 598,064 1,058,132
Q3 2017 516,264 664,924 1,181,188
Q4 2017 576,338 741,547 1,317,885
Q1 2018 531,870 708,652 1,240,522
Q2 2018 541,934 707,374 1,249,308
Q3 2018 495,438 632,575 1,128,013
Q4 2018 485,668 619,726 1,105,394
Q1 2019 457,944 573,654 1,031,598
Total 6,611,882 8,707,338 15,319,220

The implementation of smart meters hasn’t gone entirely smoothly, though. The first generation of smart meters, called “SMETS1” meters, have only a few birthdays left before they clock out for good. They age quickly and, unfortunately, not well. This is a problem that’s been exacerbated by the fact that suppliers ended up installing 12.5 million SMETS1s – 7 million more than planned. They work well until the user wants to change energy suppliers, which means that there’s likely to be 7 million meters exchanged in the not too distant future.

Level of interest in smart meters by age

Interest in smart meters among Brits isn’t exactly at a fever pitch. Data shows that just 35% of all Brits aged between 55 and 64 are keen. The most interest can be found among young people aged between 21 and 34. Over half (56%) of those in this age group expressed interest in having a smart meter installed.
Age Percentage
21-34 years 56%
35-54 years 47%
55-64 years 35%
65+ years 31%

Does having a smart meter actually make a difference?

Do we actually change our behaviour after having a smart meter installed? Survey results indicate that we do become more aware of our energy usage and change at least some of our habits accordingly. Well over half (57%) of respondents reported that they had begun to turn lights off and heating down when possible, while 46% of respondents answered that they had started to keep an eye on their energy usage. 29% of respondents said that they have researched tips and tricks to lower their daily energy usage.

It’s reported that customers using both electricity and gas have lowered their bills by £32 per year after installing their smart meter. Whether or not these change in behaviour will last in the long run, though, remains to be seen.

How smart meters have changed energy-usage behaviours

Behavior Percentage
Turn off lights 57%
Turn heating down 57%
Monitor energy use 46%
Change the way household appliances are used 45%
Encourage others in household to use less energy 33%
Buy energy-efficient appliances 16%
Have researched how to use less energy 29%

The cost of smart meters

In 2016, the gross cost of the Smart Meters Implementation Programme was calculated to be £10.98 billion. The gross benefit of the scheme was estimated to be £16.73 billion, making the net benefit £5.75 billion. The largest proportion of these savings can be attributed to supplier cost savings (49%) and energy savings (32%). On average, households that use both electricity and gas energy should see a difference of £11 per year on their energy bills by 2020.

The real cost, however, has exceeded estimations in some areas. The cost of installing the devices has so far cost £500 million more than expected by 2018. To be able to finish the project in time, suppliers will also have to install three times as many smart meters per quarter, which the supplier Ofgem has said won’t be possible. Ofgem has concluded that the programme will continue after 2020, as in June 2018, 39 million smart meters still remained to be installed.

Benefits Money saved
Energy savings £5,302 mil
Supplier cost savings £8,250 mil
Network benefits £839 mil
Peak load shifting £934 mil
Carbon and air quality benefits £1,329 mil
Costs Price
Meters £2,809 mil
IHDs £551 mil
Installations £2,077 mil
Communication hubs £1,082 mil
DDC Services £2,044 mil
Supplier costs £1,001 mil
Other £1,418 mil

What do Brits think of smart meters?

Our research of 2,000 Brits shows what Brits really think about smart meters and if they intend to get them. While 58% of Brits are in support of smart meters, a similar percentage of Brits do not intend to switch to one. The most common reason cited for not wanting to get a smart meter is that Brits are unconvinced that they will save them money. Explore the graphic and table below to find out more, or see our full survey results.

Intensions Percentage
Intend to get one 10.59%
Don't intend to get one 58.10%
Reason Percentage
Don't like being pressured by their energy company to get a smart meter 24.23%
Don't believe that smart meters currently work well 21.79%
Can't be bothered to have their meter changed 9.98%
Don't know enough about smart meters 10.04%
Like the current system 14.65%
Worried about smart meters being hacked 14.29%
Don't think smart meters will actually save them any money 25.24%
Worried that they won't understand how to use a smart meter 5.47%
Not aware that smart meters can currently be installed where they live 5.12%
Other reasons 7.10%
N/A - Intend to get a smart meter 10.59%
N/A - Already have a smart meter 27.27%
N/A - Not responsible for household decisions 3.24%

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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