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Week one findings from the national Smart Meter Challenge

Before the challenge
Before starting the challenge, participants were interviewed by the Futures Company, the research team who designed and are delivering the Smart Meter Challenge with British Gas.

We discovered that:

  • The majority said they feel they have little control over their energy use, ranking it 3/10 where 10 indicates complete control. In contrast, they ranked feeling in control over mortgage payments as 8.5/10.
  • Many of the households already try to do small things to reduce their energy use, such as keeping doors shut to conserve heat, and not using the tumble dryer when it’s sunny outside.
  • For participants with children, they’re keen to have the kids involved in understanding energy use and efficiency at home.

The households also started changing behaviour in the home before the Challenge had properly begun, because of their smart meters, including:

  • Switching off appliances they’d usually leave on stand-by.
  • Only boiling enough water for one cup of tea rather than the whole kettle.
  • Trying to keep their energy use in “green” section using the traffic light system on their smart energy monitor.

First week of the challenge
During the first week, where participants were asked to become familiar with their smart energy monitor, they said:

  • 'I want to keep my smart energy monitor visible' - all have placed their smart energy monitor in the kitchen or lounge to make it easy to see regularly.
  • ‘I am pleasantly surprised at how little energy I use’ – the majority of households have been surprised at how little gas and electricity they are actually using on a daily basis now they can see this on the smart energy monitor.
  • ‘I like the easy traffic light on the smart energy monitor’ – participants are finding the green, amber, and red quick light system invaluable in giving a snapshot of how much energy they’re using.
  • ‘I am starting to picture my energy use’ - by seeing how much energy is being used as it’s used, participants feel they’re more aware of energy use. This is particularly encouraging, because before the Challenge began, participants told us energy use felt intangible.

You can follow the NationalSmart Meter Challenge with weekly updates and insights here and read blogs from four of the families involved on the Guardian website here.

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