The meters are planned to be installed by 2020 under plans announced this morning by the Government.

It would mean the UK would be the first country in the world to have an overhaul of this size for both electricity and gas meters.

Smart meters have the technology to allow readings to be taken remotely and with a display device give people real time information on their energy use.

The government hopes this will help people cut their bills – while making energy firms more efficient by ending estimated billing.

Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, said: “The meters most of us have in our homes were designed for a different age, before climate change.

“Smart meters will empower all consumers to monitor their own energy use and make reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions as a result.

“This is a big project affecting 26 million homes, and several million businesses, so it’s important we design a system that brings best value to everyone involved.”

The preferred installation option is the central communications model – where energy suppliers are responsible for the installation and maintenance of the smart meter but the communication to and from the device is coordinated by a third party across the whole of Great Britain.

The other principal models considered are the competitive model – where energy suppliers manage all aspects of smart metering, including installation and communication.

And, the fully centralised – where regional franchises are set up to manage the installation and operation of smart meters with the communications to and from the meters managed centrally and on a national level.

Luke Walsh

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