Energy users in the UK believe that energy suppliers are untrustworthy, according to new research commissioned by the Smart Meter Central Delivery body (SMCDB).
More than half of those questioned in the UK’s largest ever research into attitudes towards the energy market and smart meters said that they did not trust energy suppliers.
The survey, carried out by Populus, quizzed a nationally representative sample of 10,033 adults across Great Britain about their relationship with energy suppliers.
The research revealed that 51% of respondents do not trust their supplier – with those from vulnerable groups the least trusting (57%). Over a third of respondents reported concerns that their energy bills were not accurate, with 41% expressing concern that they are paying for more energy then they actually consumer. In addition, 36% of respondents said that they did not understand their energy bill.
Over 40% of those questioned said that they would be interested in having a smart meter installed in their home. Ahead of the national roll-out of smart meters in 2015, Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of the SMCDB, explained why the technology will help play an invaluable roll in empowering energy users. He said: “Our research shows that more than half of the population feel they cannot trust any energy supplier. In an era when we are able to compare, record and track our household spending more easily than ever before, two in five of us have no idea whether we’re paying too much for our energy. Antiquated systems for recording energy use and managing billing are no longer fit for purpose.
“Households need to be able to take control of their energy use and bills. For this to happen, the national smart meter roll-out is the essential transformation of the technology we use to buy energy. It will create newly empowered consumers, and increase trust in those who sell us gas and electricity – and our research bears this out.”
Ann Robinson, consumer policy director at uSwitch, agreed with Deshmukh, stating: “With trust in the energy industry at an all-time low and people finding it difficult to afford the energy they need, it is high time that we now get on and deliver the smart meter programme.
“Our own research backs up today’s findings – that people using smart meters have a higher level of trust in their energy suppliers and experience greater customer satisfaction. They also feel more in control and better able to manage their energy usage.
“Energy companies are amongst the worst offenders for getting bills wrong – in fact a fifth of homes have received incorrect bills over the last two years. With energy accounting for the biggest chunk of household spend after the rent or mortgage, this is incredibly frustrating. The move to smart meters will ensure that people receive accurate, up-to-date bills based on their actual usage. But in the meantime it’s important that we all continue to provide our suppliers with regular meter readings.”