October 5, 2009 - The report claims that smart meters will be less effective without monitors.

Real-time graphics will allow people to see how much power they use and help them cut their consumption, it says.

The government announced the plan to install smart meters to monitor electricity and gas consumption in 26 million UK homes earlier this year. However, the Energy Saving Trust says the government's plans do not require energy companies to provide separate energy monitors when they install the new meters.

Without visual displays householders will find it harder to benefit from the smart meters and save power. Focus group research presented in the report, The Smart Way to Display, shows a consumer preference for simplicity in visual displays of energy use.

Most people wanted

  • A graphic indicator of their real-time rate of energy consumption, expressed in terms of expenditure per day.
  • A gauge of cumulative spend.
  • Ability to identify areas/equipment of high usage.
  • Ability to access historical data for comparison purposes. 

The trust's energy efficiency strategy manager, Ben Castle claims that stand alone in-house display monitors could offer the immediate, direct and real time feedback on consumption that consumers need. "Other alternatives, such as online services and mobile phone technology, don't give that immediate feedback that people need to inform their behavioural choices.

"I think having good, well designed displays accompanying smart meters is key to the objective of saving energy, saving carbon, saving money for householders."