Supporting vulnerable households to benefit from smart meters
Making smart energy data accessible to all
Project duration: January 2017 ongoing
The rollout of domestic smart meters, including a free In Home Display (IHD), to all households promises to transform the UK energy market and the way we all use energy in our homes. Smart meters should enable households to save money and be more in control of their home energy usage, via more accurate billing, easier switching to cheaper and better-designed energy deals and better visibility of energy usage. But vulnerable households, including elderly people and people with specific health conditions may require additional support to fully benefit from smart meters.
CSE is working in partnership with British Gas to research how vulnerable customers can best be supported to understand and make use of the data they receive through their smart meter, including how to change their behaviour in response to this data. We expect to particularly look at the needs of elderly low income customers and people with arthritis. CSE and British Gas will develop and trial a number of tailored support interventions with vulnerable customer households. British Gas staff will install the smart meters and will deliver the support interventions being trialled.
CSE will be responsible for all data collection activities and for independent reporting of the findings. The trial-based research will explore the experiences, views and preferences of participating households who will get a new smart meter installed. It will consider what difference the support provided makes to their ability to make use of their smart data, change their energy consumption patterns and improve their comfort and wellbeing.
The project findings will be shared with policy makers, practitioners and third party stakeholders (such as consumer and fuel poverty advice bodies) to contribute to industry-wide lesson-learning on what support for vulnerable consumers is effective in enabling them to benefit from smart metering. The project is being funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.