‘Live electricity bill’ displays to cut waste

"Live" displays showing the cost of electricity used in the home are to be offered free to electricity customers - a policy that could cut power use by up to 6.5%.

The scheme to offer “real-time electricity monitors” free to all householders who want them is part of a drive to improve the nation’s energy efficiency, and is to be included in the forth-coming Energy White Paper, ministers said.

Most Britons are likely to take the Government up on the offer the – 82% of householders questioned in a recent Logica CGM survey said they would like the devices installed. Meanwhile another survey by the Energy Saving Trust revealed that most people want better information about their energy use.

The monitors have proved efficient at curbing electricity waste in Ontario, Canada, where electricity customers made power use savings of up to 6.5% after the devices were installed.

In the UK, where householders collectively waste £900m in electricity a year just by leaving appliances on stand-by, the meters could potentially save 400,000 tonnes of CO2 a year by 2010 – equivalent to taking 100,000 cars off the road.

The meters will tell customers how much electricity they are using but will not transmit that information to the energy supplier – a feature that distinguishes them from “smart -meters,” which inform both the user and the supplier about power used.

Announcing the plans, Environment Secretary David Miliband said: “People want to do their bit to help protect the environment. If they can save money at the same time, all the better. Visual display units provided free of charge will help people do both.

“Electricity meters tend to be out of sight and out of mind. Visual display units can be put in a prominent place, for example the kitchen. They provide information on electricity use from moment to moment, helping cut unnecessary use, for example by reminding people to turn appliances off rather than leave them on stand-by.”

Alistair Darling MP, trade and industry secretary, said: “It all adds up. The less we waste, the fewer new power stations we need to build or fuel we need to import. And that means less carbon and less cost.

Goska Romanowicz

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