Most small and medium-sized firms are aware of the benefits of smart meters, according to new research by independent energy supplier Opus.
A survey of 500 business leaders revealed that 40% believed the main benefit of installing a smart meter was the ability to monitor their organization’s energy use in “real time”.
A further 36% believed that improved accuracy of meter readings and bills was the main benefit, according to the Opus survey.
Smart meters allow customers to monitor their energy use through real-time energy readings, which remove the need for estimated bills. All domestic consumers and small business energy customers will have smart meters installed by 2019, while large business will have ‘advanced’ smart meters installed by April 2014.
Julian Morgan, managing director of the Energy Advice Line, the UK’s leading price comparison and switching service for business energy users,welcomed Opus’ rollout of smart meters, saying they were an excellent tool to help firms to stay on top of their energy bills.
But he renewed calls for Ofgem to set up a watchdog to oversee the introduction the technology, as well as to monitor other reforms to the retail energy market.
While smart meters allowed business customers to monitor energy consumption, they also enabled suppliers to remotely disconnect customers or switch them from credit to prepayment mode if they did not pay their bills, Mr Morgan said.
There were also concerns about whether the technology would make it more complicated for customers to switch suppliers, and whether suppliers would pass on any savings made.
“Suppliers do not have a great record for always acting in the best interests of their business energy customers, so the government needs to ensure that all reforms to the energy market, including the rollout of smart meters, have teeth.
”We believe a regulatory body is needed to oversee the introduction of this technology and ensure that business gas and business electricity customers benefit from any savings that suppliers make in the cost of delivering energy.”
He said that smart meters could be a valuable tool for firms to use to monitor their energy consumption, but were not a cure-all.
“The single most effective way for firms to drive down their energy bills is to search the market for the lowest business electricity prices and switch suppliers when their fixed-term contracts end, “ Mr Morgan said.
The Energy Advice Line is the only independent price comparison and switching service in the UK designed exclusively for businesses. Firms can view the five most competitive energy offers from the UK’s leading suppliers online, compare prices against their renewal quotation and switch at the click of a button.
The Energy Advice Line’s expert team can also offer advice on how to switch suppliers, as well as a renewal reminder service to ensure you do not get caught in an expensive business energy rollover contract.
For more information visit www.energyadviceline.org.uk