Smart meters not so smart?

One of the things the government is planning to do to reduce the amount of energy we use (see Sustainable energy without the hot air, Wednesday) is to install ‘smart meters’ in every home, office and workplace in the country.

Replacing 47 million gas and electricity meters with new smart energy meters will cost £10bn, which “dwarfing” the Digital Dividend project to convert TV broadcasting from analogue to digital a new report says.

The idea is (apparently) that if people can see on their meters exactly how much money they are spending on energy then they will turn down the thermostat, turn light bulbs off — things like that.

But, 1) my electricity meter is under the stairs (and my gas meter is outside).

And, 2) research actually shows that any changes consumers do make are small (between 2% to 15%) and only temporary as people soon revert to their old habits!

home-solar-panelIt is true that smart meters also allow electricity generators to run more efficiently, by turning on and off certain devices in our homes so as to manage the demand.

But wouldn’t we get a faster impact on our CO2 emissions if we spent our first £10bn on something practical that would make a real,  sustainable difference to our energy usage immediately — like loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, or solar panels for every home? I don’t see that programme being announced yet.

You can read the full story here: http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2009/10/14/238131/should-the-uk-spend-10bn-on-smart-meters.htm

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