Households with smart meters could save money by moving to tariffs that are not compatible with the devices, new research has revealed.
Only one in six tariffs are available for households with smart meters, according to data from Compare the Market.
Just 37 of the 223 energy tariffs it analysed are available to households already with a smart meter, leaving customers with fewer options when it comes to switching energy supplier.
Whilst all 223 of the deals are still displayed to customers with smart meters, they may lose the functionality of their gadgets if they switch to one of these tariffs.
Only one in six tariffs are available for households with smart meters, new data has revealed
Not only do households with smart meters have less choice, the average tariff available to smart meter households is £18 more expensive a year.
Meanwhile, the average annual switchable dual fuel tariff price for those with smart meters is £1,089, compared with households without smart meters being offered tariffs for £1,071 per year – a difference of £18.
Peter Earl, head of energy at Compare the Market said: ‘The industry should be encouraging people who haven’t yet to switch to smart meters but this does not seem to be the case with tariff variety and pricing.
‘There needs to be more incentives to encourage people to switch, including competitive pricing.’
There have been many concerns over the smart meter rollout since it launched in 2016 with lots of households encountering challenges with their first generation devices (SMETS1).
Many were found to have a fault where many stopped working after customers switched suppliers.
The average tariff available to smart meter households is £18 more expensive a year
The second generation meters, SMETS2 devices, were meant to rectify this problem, however, many suppliers are still not installing these and continue to install the SMETS1 models.
The rollout has also been halted significantly due to lockdown and engineers being unable to get into homes.
The take up, in general, has also been considerably less than the Government anticipated meaning the initial target date of every home and small business being offered one has been pushed back multiple times.
Peter Earl added: ‘The original target to ensure all UK homes had been offered smart meters by the end of 2020 was clearly unrealistic, since only two-fifths of households have them installed.
‘The rollout has been extended so there are fewer excuses for missing the next deadline, even if timings are tight.
‘Smart meters are a useful tool to help people manage their energy consumption, but millions of homes are stuck with smart meters that operate in the same way that a traditional meter does, which doesn’t allow them to receive the full benefits promised.
‘We need to see dedicated action to ensure these meters are soon enrolled into the smart systems and so that customer get the smart benefits and do not lose them when switching supplier.’
Smart meter ‘sluggish’ as installations slow down
Separate data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has shown there was a significant fall in the number of smart meters installed over the first three months of the year compared to the three months prior.
Between January and March this year, 760,900 domestic smart meters were installed – 213,900 fewer than between October and December 2020 – a 22 per cent decrease.
There were 24.2million smart and advanced meters operating in smart mode and advanced meters at the end of March 2021 – equivalent to 44 per cent – just a five per cent increase compared to the same time last year.
However, much of the slow progress is down to the coronavirus lockdown, with engineers unable to gain access to homes to install new devices.
There has been a significant drop in smart meter installations recently due to the pandemic
Sofia Hutson, energy spokesperson at Compare the Market, said: ‘A fall in smart meter installations was expected given that lockdown restrictions were in place for much of the reporting period.
‘The disruption from Covid-19 and sluggish rollout of the programme to date makes the renewed target to install smart meters in 85 per cent of homes by 2024 a significant challenge.
‘If the industry wants to get serious about its net zero ambitions, the smart meter programme is an important piece of that puzzle.
‘There needs to be more emphasis on ensuring that targets are met and not missed for a second time.’
Justina Miltienyte, policy expert at Uswitch, added: ‘It’s not surprising that smart meter installations last year were low as suppliers had to stall the programme during the pandemic.
‘But it will now be an uphill battle for suppliers to install smart meters for the 56 per cent of customers who still have a traditional meter by 2025.
‘Smart meters will play an important role in the UK’s transition to net zero, but they can also offer practical value to consumers, preventing the need for meter readings and providing far more accurate bills.’
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