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Energy providers are falling short of consumer expectations and keeping them in the dark over the benefits of smart meters

Ipswich, UK – 21st September 2011: The UK’s energy providers are falling short in providing energy efficiency initiatives that meet consumer demands and failing to educate on the money-saving benefits of the smart meter rollout, according to a new study from Navetas Energy Management. The study also uncovered a confusing energy landscape for consumers, with the approaches to energy monitoring from energy providers varying widely, making it difficult for consumers to make informed choices when trying to reduce their energy consumption.

The report, ‘Time for smarter thinking’, available to download at www.navetas.com/corporate/pressreleases/energyaudit, follows research from Navetas that showed 96% of British adults are concerned about energy prices and 88% want to better understand how they are using energy and would value information at an appliance level.

Against this backdrop, and with the government’s rollout of 53m smart meters looming, the Navetas report studied ten UK energy providers, including the “Big Six”. Through email communication, telephone calls and website reviews, it looked at whether energy providers are meeting consumer demand for energy efficiency initiatives and doing enough to convince consumers of the benefits of the smart meter rollout.

Energy efficiency initiatives

Energy saving is a key message for energy providers, but the products and services offered varied widely. At the time of the study, British Gas and Southern Electric were promoting energy efficiency prominently, while EDF Energy, E.ON and Scottish Power focused on fixed pricing deals, and npower on services such as boiler care.

Smaller companies Good Energy and Ecotricity looked to appeal to customers by focusing on renewable energy, while new entrant Co-operative Energy highlighted pricing promotions – putting them in direct competition with the bigger players in the market.

With 88% of consumers saying they would value energy monitoring at an appliance level, the study also looked at the energy monitors on offer. Only 50% of energy providers assessed provide an energy monitoring device and these varied considerably, with some requiring plugs, some with in-home displays, others online displays, some monitoring at appliance level and others only providing top-line energy data.

Smart meters

Overall, energy providers are providing some information on the government’s smart meter rollout, but offering little evidence of tangible benefits that will help consumers. British Gas was the only energy provider to put a figure against the savings that smart meters could give consumers, of 10%.

Calls to customer service teams painted a particularly worrying picture, with many agents not knowing when the rollout of smart meters will start or whether consumers would be charged. Only agents from British Gas, E.ON and Scottish Power were clear that the consumer would not have to pay for their smart meter and few could cite the key benefits of smart meters outside of accurate billing and automatic meter readings. One customer service agent from a Big Six utility even stated: “it’s all a bit sketchy at the moment”.

Chris Saunders, CEO at Navetas Energy Management, comments:
“The UK energy industry is entering a challenging phase, with strict carbon reduction targets, implementation of the smart grid and an £11.7bn smart meter rollout. But for the consumer, saving money is the key concern and energy providers have a lot to do to rebuild their trust following recent high price rises.

“The smart meter rollout is an initiative that will impact every household in the UK and it offers the opportunity for energy providers to deliver customers the services, cost savings and added value they want. .The smart meter rollout can be a win-win for both energy providers and energy users, but smart meters need to be smarter.

“Energy providers need to transform these devices from simple displays for consumers, to intelligent energy measurement and management systems in the home that will engage consumers and help them save energy. It’s time for energy providers to find new coherent and purpose-driven ways of motivating and engaging consumers in their bids to become energy efficient.”

Navetas has developed unique energy disaggregation technology that can accurately measure energy consumption at an appliance-level, from a single point in the home, without the need for additional sensors. The technology is currently being trialed with some of the UK’s leading energy providers.

The full Navetas report, ‘An audit of UK energy providers’, can be downloaded now at www.navetas.com/corporate/pressreleases/energyaudit.

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NOTES TO EDITORS:

Research methodology

Ten of the UK’s energy providers were assessed for this study, combining the major players with smaller energy companies that are newer to the market or focus their offering on ‘greener’ or more renewable energy. The companies selected were:
The Big Six - British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern Electric (studied using Southern Electric)
Smaller or specialist providers - First Utility, Co-operative Energy, Good Energy, Ecotricity

The energy efficiency and smart meter offerings of each energy provider were assessed using two different approaches:
- Mystery shopping – via telephone calls and emails into their customer services teams
- Desktop research – by reviewing each energy provider’s website

* Each website in the desktop study was analysed between the July and August, 2011.
* The telephone and email research was conducted in August 2011.

For more information, images or to arrange an interview with Navetas, please contact:


Alizia Walker or Alex Wheeler

EML Wildfire 
Tel: +44 20 8408 8000
Email: navetas@emlwildfire.com

About Navetas

Navetas is a UK-based company that develops innovative technology that empowers individuals, utilities and businesses to make better energy choices and find new ways to reduce and manage energy consumption and minimise their environmental impact.

The company’s innovative technology can identify individual appliances and measure their energy consumption, providing rich data to help householders and businesses save money by using electrical appliances more efficiently.

For more information, visit www.navetas.com

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Wildfire in the following categories: Environment & Nature, Business & Finance, Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy, for more information visit https://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.