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Smart meter households excluded from tariffs

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26/05/2021
Just one in six energy tariffs are available to properties equipped with a smart meter, new research from comparethemarket.com has found.

The price comparison site analysed 223 tariffs that are currently available and found that only 37 were open to households which already have a smart meter installed, compared to 186 tariffs for those who have not yet moved to a smart meter.

The study also found that households already with a smart meter are paying higher prices. Comparethemarket.com found that the average dual fuel tariff price for those with smart meters is £1,089, £18 higher than those for households without smart meters. 

Energy giant EDF has queried the findings, emphasising that all of its tariffs are available to smart meter customers.

Rolling out smart meters

Smart meters are designed to help people reduce their energy use, and with it cut their energy bills.

The government has set 2025 as the deadline for having every home in the UK equipped with smart meters, having attempted to increase the number of installations taking place last year. Its latest figures show that in 2020 3.1 million smart meters were installed in domestic properties.

However, there is an issue with smart meters going ‘dumb’. This is where the meters continue to display readings, but no longer communicate with the network, essentially removing the ‘smart’ functionality.

This commonly happens with older meters when the household moves energy supplier, though is less likely to happen with the newer generation of smart meters. According to government figures, of the 22.2 million smart meters in households across the country, only 17.6 million of them are operating in smart mode.

That means that the best part of five million homes have smart meters that aren’t working properly.

Incentives needed to boost smart meter take-up

Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket.com, argued that the industry needs to do more to encourage people to switch to smart meters, but this isn’t happening through tariff variety and pricing, and called for more incentives to be offered in order to boost switching.

He added: “Smart meters are a useful tool to help people manage their energy consumption, but millions of homes are stuck with smart meters that operate in the same way that a traditional meter does, which doesn’t allow them to receive the full benefits promised.

“We need to see dedicated action to ensure these meters are soon enrolled into the smart systems and so that customers get the smart benefits and do not lose them when switching supplier.”

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