Smart Meters, Smart People

Author: University of Ulster
Published: December 2012

In 2010, the Utility Regulator in Northern Ireland commissioned a team to lead the region’s first Smart Meter Trial. Unlike all other Trials (which recruit a cast of thousands) this Trial focused on 56 lower-income customers who were vulnerable to the impacts of living in fuel poverty. This is a group whose needs have, thus far, been somewhat neglected in Smart Meter Trials. Given that almost half (42%) of Northern Ireland’s households were in fuel poverty at the last official estimate (NIHE, 2011), this was an issue of particular local interest. The team explored how best to assist this customer base in gaining confidence and expertise when working with a new Smart meter and its companion in-house display (IHD). Through a variety of noninvasive interventions, many of them based on recommendations for best practice, the Trial was able to document both the needs and competences of this important group.

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