For vulnerable people to get the most out of smart meters, extra support is needed

28 September 2018

Does an ‘enhanced’ smart-meter installation and follow-up advice help vulnerable consumers optimise their energy usage and realize the benefits from their smart meters?

To find out, we surveyed two householder types - people with arthritis and low income families.

We looked at the difference that two factors might make:

  1. An ‘enhanced installation’ (e.g. where the installer spends more time explaining how smart meters and in-house displays work and tailoring this advice to the property condition and household circumstances.)
  2. Either a follow-up home visit or phone advice after the smart meter had been fitted.

CSE worked in partnership with British Gas to deliver this project that was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

CSE’s Nicky Hodges led the research. “Vulnerable people stand to gain by the installation of smart meters, but only if they’re helped to make the best use of them. What we wanted to measure was how much difference an ‘enhanced’ installation and a follow up advice visit or phone call would make.”

Fewer households were found to participate in the research than we hoped, but despite this it is possible to say that an unrushed, step-by-step and face-to-face demonstration of IHD functions by the installer did lead to an increase in understanding, and that vulnerable households should be offered a follow-up home visit which combines a further demonstration of IHD functions with more energy advice.

Read the full project profile here.

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