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British Gas prepares to trial ‘pay as you go’ smart meters

British Gas is preparing to start testing innovative new technology this summer which will allow pay-as-you-go customers in future to top up anywhere once they have had a smart meter fitted.

The Energy Minister, Baroness Verma, visits the British Gas Smart Centre and Training Academy in Leeds today (30 April) to meet engineers who’ll be training this summer in advance of the trial of smart meters with ‘pay as you go’ functionality.

The trials for existing British Gas customers will scale up later in the year and through 2015. Eventually tens of thousands will be offered smart meters in a targeted roll-out which will prioritise customers whose existing pre-payment meter is due to be replaced.

The Government has set 2020 as the target for smart meters to be standard issue to homes and businesses across the country.

British Gas has led the way so far, installing 1.3 million smart meters for credit customers and businesses – that’s a new installation every two minutes. The new technology displays energy usage in pounds and pence, and in near real time.

Smart ‘pay as you go’ customers taking part in the trials this year will get a smart energy monitor for use in their home showing not just energy usage but also their remaining credit balance. They’ll be able to top up their balance whenever necessary without leaving home, via a mobile phone or online.

In a recent survey* of more than 600 pay as you go users, 83% said they found smart meters appealing, different and relevant to their needs.

As part of her visit Baroness Verma will also meet the first of almost one hundred apprentices recently hired by British Gas.

Kieran Rowbottom, British Gas Smart Energy Expert in Leeds, said: “I visit customers’ homes every day, and I can see that smart meters are changing how our customers control and use energy. It’s easy to use the technology – in future we’d like to share it with more of our customers.”

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Baroness Verma said: “Smart Meters allow consumers to take control of their energy use, helping them budget better and save money.

“I welcome the progress British Gas has made in installing smart meters and their upcoming prepayment trial. Smart meters should help to dramatically cut the difference in energy tariffs between direct debit and prepayment customers.”

Stuart Rolland, British Gas’ Chief Operations Officer, said: “We’re delighted the Minister is seeing for herself how we’re preparing to trial smart meters with our ‘pay as you go’ customers.

“Our aim is for all our customers to benefit from this innovative technology, ending the days of people having to brave the rain to queue and top up their balance in a shop. British Gas has led the industry in installing smart meters, and we’ll continue working hard to keep up the pace.”

British Gas research** locally in Yorkshire and the Humber recently showed that credit customers were already benefiting from using smart meters, and changing behaviour. Nine out of ten said they were taking simple daily steps to manage their home energy use like turning appliances off when not in use. More than half of those surveyed, who used their in-home display, said they had saved money on their energy bills, the majority estimating their savings at up to £75.

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