Neil Schofield:

Smart meters welcome, but 2020 delay is missed opportunity

Published:  11 December, 2009

WORCESTER: One of the UK's leading boiler manufacturers has welcomed Energy Secretary Ed Miliband's announcement that the Government is set to put 'smart meters in every home by 2020', but believes that the 2020 deadline is a missed opportunity to encourage consumers to start monitoring their gas usage.

Worcester, Bosch Group, manufacturer of high-efficiency boilers and renewable technologies, has labelled the Government's proposals "positive news" for consumers, but is concerned that the delay in implementation does not communicate the urgency of reducing a home's energy rating and therefore is a missed opportunity to encourage consumers to upgrade inefficient heating systems, in particular the 17 million standard-efficiency boilers which are still in use in the UK.

Neil Schofield, head of sustainable development at Worcester, commented: "The 2020 deadline is too far-off and will leave too many consumers in the dark over their energy usage for the next decade.

"Anything that makes energy usage clearer for the consumer is good news, but we believe that only a transparent correlation between daily energy usage and the final bill will encourage consumers to grasp the nettle on the key environmental issue we face, namely reducing energy consumption in the home. Smart meters will deliver a sense of clarity, but can we really afford to wait until 2020?

"Critics who say that the new technology will only help people cut their energy bills by £28 a year are missing the point. The key issue is enabling consumers to understand and monitor their energy usage and make changes which will lead to greater energy efficiencies.

"At the moment, the current metering system is far too opaque for the average consumer, which leaves them unable to equate daily usage with their final bill.

"This opaqueness is a key contributor to consumers being unwilling to upgrade to high-efficiency boilers and embrace renewable technologies.

"I believe a campaign needs to be implemented which allows consumers to understand how much energy they spend every time they run a bath or turn on the heating, so that they start to appreciate the benefits of renewable technologies and the long-term savings these products bring with them."

Smart meters will allow suppliers to remotely record customers' gas and electricity usage, and let consumers see how much energy they are using. It is understood that the six biggest energy company will be responsible for the roll-out of the metres at a cost of about £340 a household. Some 47 million meters are expected to be fitted in 26 million properties at a cost of £8bn.

Mr Schofield also believes that by 2020 the meters should also be able to record the carbon footprint of individual homes. "The day is coming when we will be asked to account for our individual carbon generation. It would be nice if the meters could also display the carbon footprint of a home. Armed with this information consumers will be further encouraged to embrace renewable technologies."

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