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Benefits of 'ignored' smart meters questioned

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New research has questioned the benefit of the governments’ £11 billion plan to reduce energy consumption by installing energy meters in every home by 2020

The 12 month study by Tom Hargreaves at the Research by the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia School found that so-called ‘smart’ meters only offer short term advantages.

Smart meters provide households with a real time visual display of the amount of energy being used aiming to help save energy and money.

The report suggests that saving energy is short-lived as householders tend to ignore them once the excitement of new technology has worn off.

Hargreaves, who presented findings to the international conference in London of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: ‘Rather than feeling motivated to save more energy and money householders were left feeling frustrated and despondent that the changes they could make were very small and they were receiving little or no meaningful support from anywhere else, such as government and local authorities.’

Hargreaves added: ‘However, the roll-out of smart meters isn’t solely about reducing energy consumption - it’s also about developing a so-called ‘smart grid’ that can support higher levels of low-carbon generating capacity and other cost savings to consumers from the ease of switching between suppliers, greater billing accuracy, and the reduced need for an army of meter readers.’

However Giles Bruce, founding partner of A_Zero Environmental Architects defended the use of the metres. He said: ‘Energy consumption is as much about human behaviour as it is about architecture. The smart meter is the quickest way to influence a homeowner’s behaviour, making environmental performance relevant within the home.’

Ben Humphries, a director at Architype architects added: ‘Smart meters definitely help in energy saving as a better understanding of homeowners consumption is key, however it is important to prioritise funding as there is a huge amount of energy wasted in poorly insulated homes.’


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