Energy regulator Ofgem is to administer the first large-scale trials in Britain of advanced energy meters, which could help cut household energy consumption.

Under a £10 million government program, match-funded by four energy suppliers, meters will be fitted in around 15,000 British homes to provide feedback on whether they help customers improve household energy efficiency. A further 8000 homes will receive standalone display units showing energy use in pounds and pence. The trials - which will be administered by Ofgem over the next two years - will test how customers react to these new devices and to clearer, more frequent energy bills.

Ofgem Chief Executive Alistair Buchanan, said: “Smart meters have great potential to help customers better understand their energy use and to encourage energy efficiency. Our initial work suggests that smart meters are the future - the end of the meter reader, the ability to meter homemade electricity sales back onto the grid and vastly improved consumption data available within your home. These trials will provide us with firm evidence and hard facts about the benefits smart meters can bring.”

Smart meters provide a number of benefits such as:

  • Allowing customers to track their energy use over time to see where they can save energy and money off their bills
  • Potentially improving take-up of home electricity generation such as solar panels as they can record how much power customers may be exporting back onto the networks.
  • To minimize barriers to the take up of smart meters, Ofgem has formed an industry-wide group to agree minimum standards for the meters and look at what needs to change in industry rules to let the industry use them more widely. Ofgem will also provide six-monthly reports to government on the trials, and a final report once the trials are completed in 2010.
Relaying energy use directly to a supplier avoiding the need for estimated bills