With only a couple of weeks to go until energy prices increase for millions of households’ energy companies have been busily notifying their customers of the increase and putting additional processes in place to review direct debit payments ready for when the increase takes effect.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with many energy professionals and there’s one thing for sure, none of them are sitting there expecting nothing will happen as a result of the increase!  The majority, if not all, have started to see an increase in customer contact as expected. Everyone I have spoken to has made some efforts to start a proactive review of Direct Debits, some have reviewed all of them, whilst others have increased the frequency of reviews.  This activity drives contact from concerned customers.

I believe, in certain households, there is an opportunity for customers to reduce the impact of these increases, but they need advice from the experts. The best way to provide that advice is understanding actual usage in real-time which would require the customer to have a smart meter installed. Statistics recently released by BEIS show that just under half of the properties in Great Britain now have a smart meter installed. Worryingly though, around 15% of smart meters installed don’t actually work as smart. This means there are approximately 30m of the UK’s 52m meters still not smart.

So, will this energy crisis drive a demand for smart meters like we have never seen before?

Most likely yes.

A starting point for energy providers could be to fix the meters already in customers’ homes and reconnect them back onto the network so they can see their consumption in real time with the least amount of disruption. Sigma Connected has been working with one client to do just that. Remotely reconnecting meters to the network with either the customer directly or with meter read agents, who go out to read the meter manually. This is a cost-effective solution for energy companies who don’t have to send scarce and expensive meter fitters to do the work and its more convenient for the customer.

The graph below shows the steady increase in smart meters installed since 2012. The last quarter of 2021 see’s the steepest rise for a while as we come out of Covid restrictions

The number of smart meters not working has levelled out as energy companies become aware of this issue and put interventions in place. The DCC’s enrolment and adoption program will have addressed some of this but even with this in place the number isn’t moving greatly

When we view the number of installs by quarter it’s obvious what the impact of Covid has had on the roll out plan with a serious drop in 2020. More surprisingly the peak of installations was back in 2017 and the quarterly totals have declined since then.

This leaves as many meters to be fitted in the next 3 years as have been fitted in the last 10 years. Quite possibly the energy crisis may well be the catapult to drive the smart revolution.

Once the customer has a working smart meter the level of energy efficiency advice that companies can offer becomes far more personalised and customers can start to see the benefits immediately of any interventions they take.

My prediction is that 2022 will see the tables turn with more customers requesting smart meters than ever before. Energy companies should capitalise on this and start their proactive campaigns to customers leveraging the energy crisis as the hook to switch customers to smart.

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About the author

 

Rob Sawle is Sigma Connected’s Director of Energy Services.

You can contact Rob via email or connect with Rob on LinkedIn.