Examination of Witnesses

Part of Smart Meters Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 21st November 2017.

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Dr Sarah Darby:

There is evidence that people are making alterations in their everyday behaviour and that over time, from how the figures are going, they are thinking more about investing in energy efficiency. I say that because the evidence is that the energy-saving effect, compared with people who do not have smart meters, rises gently over time. You would think that people might be very keen at first to go around switching off all the lights and so on, but would then get a bit bored with it, and the effect would fall off, but that does not seem to happen. If you look at the large numbers of people we have data for over a long period of time—a few years—you see a gradual learning effect.

It is quite a small effect in aggregate. After the first year of roll-out, I think it was 1.5% or 2% for gas and electricity. The last I heard, which was May 2016, British Gas was talking 3% to 4% after a few years, on the basis of several hundred thousand customers. So there is a gradual learning effect. That is, of course, an average, and it will vary a lot between people. For some people, you may get quite a substantial effect; for some people, none at all.