energywatchLondon, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- February 26, 2007 – U.K. gas and electricity consumer watchdog energywatch is calling on all suppliers to read meters at least every six months to stop customers being left in the dark about the energy they are using. Over a third of domestic energy bills are estimated, and energywatch says the move would create more accurate bills and help consumers have a clearer picture of their energy consumption.

energywatch remains convinced that smart meters are the ideal solution to a widespread change in customer behavior towards energy use and efficiency, but wants the increase in meter reading frequency as an interim measure.

The call comes in an energywatch response to a consultation on an EU directive to get more information on energy use to consumers. Jonathan Stearn, Head of Campaigns at energywatch, said: “Until consumers are given smart meters to allow them and their suppliers to see how much energy they are using in real time, the obligation on suppliers to read meters more frequently should be stepped up. A target of reading meters at least every six months should not be beyond suppliers.

“Smart meters will make all the difference but we can't afford to wait for them. Action is needed now to give more accurate information to consumers to help them take control of how much energy they use and play their own part in reducing CO2 emissions."

Research by energywatch found that 35 per cent of gas and electricity bills are estimated. The industry acknowledges that 36 per cent of bills/statements are based upon estimated meter readings.

energywatch’s position on billing and metering is in its response to the DTI/Defra Energy Billing and Metering consultation: Changing Customer Behaviour. This consultation seeks views on the implementation of the EU Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive. The consultation also gathers views on the government's Energy Review's conclusion that improved billing, energy efficiency advice and real time information could help households reduce carbon emissions.