UK Government Reveals Ambitious Smart Meter Plans
The European Union has already made moves to mandate smart meters, but now the Guardian tells us that the UK Government has revealed that it will be ensuring that every UK home is fitted with a smart meter by the year 2020. So what's the big deal?
Here's more from The Guardian:
"The meters most of us have in our homes were designed for a different age, before climate change," said Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary. "Now we need to get smarter with our energy ... so it's important we design a system that brings best value to everyone involved."
Energy companies welcomed the switch, which will reduce their running costs by making meter readers obsolete and eliminating the customer service time spent on dealing with estimated bills. Consumers and small business owners could benefit from savings achieved through increased awareness of their energy use. Previous studies have shown that smart meters encourage homeowners to cut their energy use by 3-15%, although experts warn that the technology requires consumer education and is not an "install and forget" energy-efficiency measure like loft insulation.
It's certainly true that instantaneous feedback on our energy consumption can encourage more efficient behavior - fellow TreeHugger John's experiments with a ScanGauge and a car full of teenagers testify to that fact - but in order to be successful, we'll need efforts to educate the public about how to get the most out of these meters. Perhaps some of the money utilities will save on visiting households to do meter readings could be redirected into education? Just thinking out loud here...