Technology is now central to modern living and using it to manage our energy is no exception. At the heart of this is the smart meter, which is playing a crucial role in helping our customers monitor and control their energy consumption and costs. I was therefore really pleased to learn yesterday that British Gas had reached an important milestone for our customers and for our country - the installation of our 1 millionth smart meter in a UK home. In this blog, I want to tell you some more about the role we are playing in the smart meter roll-out and the benefits they are delivering in Britain today.
Leading Britain’s smart meter installation
We are leaders in the smart meter roll-out, having already installed over 70% of all smart meters in the UK. The millionth residential smart meter installation takes our total to 1.4 million delivered in both UK homes and businesses, demonstrating our commitment to putting our customers in control of their energy use and bills. This puts the country in a strong position ahead of the Government’s nation-wide smart meter roll-out that’s due to commence at the end of next year.
Generating greater controlover energy use and bills, delivering higher satisfaction
The benefits of smart meters are transforming customer relationships with energy – they are helping customers take control over their energy use, helping to reduce energy consumption and improving the way people feel about energy.
How? Customers with smart meters can make more informed energy decisions because they can see just how much gas and electricity they are using and how this translates into pounds and pence via an in-home display. They can also explore the breakdown of their energy consumption and compare it with similar houses through a Smart Energy Report. This helps our customers understand the costs that make up their energy bill in a really transparent way and can lead to a reduction in usage through behavioural change. This is illustrated through our research, which has shown that 9 out of 10 smart meter customers now take simple steps to reduce energy use in the home, while more than half were saving money as a result. And by stimulating the creation of sustainable behavioural change, we can all help reduce the single biggest source of carbon emissions associated with energy - those generated from customer consumption.Smart meters are also improving the service we provide our customers. For example, as smart meter readings are sent directly to the energy supplier, they are putting an end to estimated billing and manual meter reads.
All of this is helping improve satisfaction among our smart meter customers, which is consistently 40% higher than those customers without one. And to ensure the experience of our smart meter customers continues to evolve, British Gas has already conducted more than 45,000 customer interviews to gain greater insight into what we can do to ensure that the benefits of smart meters are maximised.
Enabling new tariffs and technologies
Smart meters can also help households save money on their energy bill through ‘Time of Use’ tariffs, which provide lower prices for electricity during off-peak hours. British Gas is currently trialling Time of Use products to see how this could benefit our UK customers, while in our US Direct Energy business, offerings such as ‘Free Power Saturdays’, have helped customers save around 16% on their energy bills by encouraging them to do energy-intensive household activities (like laundry washing) on specific days when energy is free. Shifting customer energy consumption to less busy periods also has the added benefit of reducing the need to build new power generation capacity to meet peak demand. Smart meters will also enable the use of microgeneration technologies such as solar power and sharing the energy it generates in local communities.
Growing our talented workforce
We are making a significant investment in our workforce to generate the skills needed to support the national smart meter roll-out. British Gas has already created over 1,200 jobs to support the programme and we will continue to invest in our future talent pipeline through our dedicated apprenticeship programme.
As you can see, I’m a huge fan of smart meters and I look forward to seeing British Gas help even more customers have greater control over their energy consumption and bills. If you would like to learn more about smart meters you can watch our videos or read the 2013 CR Performance Review.