Supporting smart metering innovation to drive energy savings for homes and small businesses

Supporting smart metering innovation to drive energy savings for homes and small businesses

Kelly Finnerty, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Stephanie Gale, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Smart meters are being rolled out across Great Britain and will play a critical role in modernising the way we all use energy and helping to achieve the UK’s long-term commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As part of this, BEIS has provided grant funding for two innovation Competitions, for innovators to develop smart energy management tools to maximise the benefits of smart meters and potential for energy savings. The Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition (NDSEMIC) provided £8.8 million funding and piloted several tools in non-domestic settings, namely small hospitality and retail businesses and schools and the Smart Energy Savings Competition (SENS) provided £6.25 million funding and focused on developing a variety of tools for domestic consumers. The main findings for this report come from NDSEMIC, as findings for this Competition have now been published, whereas the SENS Competition and evaluation is ongoing. The NDSEMIC evaluation found that smart energy management tools can help small businesses and schools become more energy efficient in their behaviours and save energy and for six out of the seven tools piloted, there is evidence that energy savings were achieved. However, to achieve energy savings, the findings showed that the tools needed to first gain the customers’ initial interest (typically through promising potential cost savings, environmental benefits or improved energy management) and sustain that interest over a period of time (through the tools’ providing timely and granular data, novel and actionable energy saving tips and presenting data clearly, or additional educational components in the case of schools). They also needed to be able to catalyse action and change energy use behaviour, which most tools were successful at doing through encouraging low cost and easy and quick behaviour change actions such as turning lights or equipment off when not in use. Overall, the NDSEMIC evaluation showed that under existing market conditions, there are non-domestic consumers who will take up and use these types of tools and they can generate energy savings and other benefits. Further research through the SENS Competition will show whether energy feedback tools in homes can provide energy savings and other benefits to domestic consumers as well.

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