A new study has found that both electricity and gas smart meters have had a bigger impact on energy consumption than the government had anticipated.
The study by the London-based Behavioural Insights Team has estimated consumption reductions of 3.43% for electricity and 2.97% for gas from a meta-analysis of seven studies from four suppliers.
These are both statistically significantly different from 0, according to the study – the ranges are 3.56% to 3.31% and 3.08% to 2.86% respectively – and they compare with the 3% for electricity and 2.2% for gas that the government had previously anticipated based on findings from the early stages of the rollout combined with those from elsewhere.
The study report also notes marked variations between the suppliers, from -4.6% to -1.12% for electricity and -3.8% to -0.94% for gas, and in particular ‘Supplier A’ with four studies in both categories achieving greater impacts than the other three suppliers.
However, the report states that it was not possible to draw strong conclusions about the reasons for this variation.
One suggestion is differences between the suppliers in rollout and installation strategies, such as the maturity of rollout at the time of installation – the studies encompass a range of different timeframes – the proportion of customers receiving an in-home display, the quality of the display or energy efficiency advice given to customers during the installation.
Another is differences in the suppliers’ sample for the analysis, analysis strategies and/or customer base.
The seven studies from the four suppliers in the meta-analysis were selected from an initial review of 14 analyses from seven suppliers as being “sufficiently rigorous to include in an evidence synthesis”.
The report also notes that treating the four studies from Supplier A as a single study reduces the consumption reduction estimates to 2.61% for electricity and 2.43% for gas – both still statistically significantly different from 0 and broadly in line with the government’s anticipated figures.