'Smart Meters' might be a bit thick according to National Audit Office

30 June 2011

A 'smart meter', this morning

Have you heard about the smart meters we're all getting? If not, they're digital things which are going to be installed in our houses and they're designed to end unreliable gas and electricity bill estimates. It will also see the death of the meter inspector, which is nice. No-one likes strangers poking around their house, with their stinky Dagenham Smiles poking out from their trousers.

However, it isn't all great news. The National Audit Office has warned that the costs and benefits of this new scheme won't necessarily benefit households.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have estimated that we'll save £23 per year, but the NAO have pointed out that this figure has been based on a presumption that utility companies will be honest enough to pass on the savings they're making of not having to send out meter readers.

They argue that the actual saving we'll make will be £4.63 billion over a 20 years, which looks good on paper, but it actually breaks down to just £8.91 each year, which equates to a paltry less-than-1 per cent of our energy bills.

The report by the auditors says: "There is a risk that these benefits will not be realised on the scale estimated by the Department."

Of course, these savings won't account for much as we're footing the bill for this new multi-million pound scheme. So are smart-meters just a massive waste of our collective time?

TOPICS:   Government   Banking   Utilities


  • Dick
    I am on a tarriff where I read it myself and supply it online. If I want an accurate reading, I do it. If not, I let them estimate it. I probably read it once a year, so my account is always about right.
  • Marky M.
    Don't forget these smart meters are two-way. They can cut your supply off remotely. Can you imagine trying to explain a fuck-up to their call centre drone in Bangalore? What fun!
  • Gunn
    Pretty sure somewhere I've read that meter readers also come visit for "safety" reasons, but I've only seen them ever take a reading. Maybe its incase you've tampered with the meter and who knows someone might jailbreak the smart meter and you get free electricity.
  • Phil76
    @ Gunn to be fair Npower did try to do a safety inspection on my meter last month, over and above the meter reading. Unfortunately they chose a random midweek day to try it, and then came back the next day, before sticking a note through the letter box asking me to make a more convenient appointment (try never!). And before anyone says it, yes I do realise it's important for a safety inspection of your meters regularly, but these were installed by British Gas about a year ago, so I sure as shit hope they're still safe.
  • Rob
    There is an industry requirement that a meter reader/ agent visits a property which is due to safety/ tampering I think. Also the meters that I've heard have been deployed so far don't have the capability to remotely de-energise, although it is a possible feature. Also, from what I've seen so far too there is still an issue with incorrect reads (swapped registers etc).
  • Tight g.
    Of course they are a waste of time. If you want to save money, turn the light off.

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