Technological innovation in the energy industry will make a huge difference to consumers by helping them to use less, waste less, and pay less for their gas and electricity.
Despite average savings of up to £512 a year, 70% of all consumers languish on expensive, standard energy tariffs. Many of us simply don’t understand complex energy bills and USwitch believes that this is a major barrier to getting more engaged with our energy use and spend.
From June this year, new Government rules mean all bills now feature a ‘QR code’, including key information about a customer’s energy account. At uSwitch, we have just launched an app to bypass complicated bills by reading the code to present an instant, personalised comparison, allowing consumers to switch even more simply.
Perhaps the biggest change on the horizon is the Government’s roll out of smart energy meters to all homes and businesses by 2020. Smart meters will not only help reduce energy use by making it easier to see – in real time – your energy consumption, but it will also bring an end to inaccurate, estimated bills, and the need for suppliers to carry out expensive meter reading programmes.
The technology will also allow for so called ‘time of use’ tariffs. These plans will offer cheaper energy at off peak periods, leading to better demand management that would also reduce the need for new power stations.
Also on the horizon is midata – a Government programme aimed at encouraging customers to be more aware of their spending habits by getting businesses, consumer groups and regulators to make available the data they hold on consumers in a standardised, safe, electronic and portable format. This will allow other organisations, like price comparison websites, to alert customers in real time if there is a better energy deal available.
Technology is set to revolutionise the way consumers see and view energy, but increasing low levels of engagement with the market is crucial to making new innovations really help more of us to use less, waste less and pay less for our energy.