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New research on energy efficiency and consumer benefits of smart metering – results of a global mass pilot comparison


05 Oct 2011


Health & Consumers

5 October 2011 - Amsterdam ESMIG, the European Smart Metering Industry Group, welcomes the publication of the “Empower Demand” report on ’The potential of smart meter enabled programs to increase energy and system benefits: a mass pilot comparison’, written and published by VaasaETT. 

The independent research, funded by ESMIG, demonstrates the actual effects of around 100 smart meter enabled pilots and roll-outs across the world, analyses what features and setup lead to the greatest effects, and summarises lessons for utilities to maximise consumer benefits. 

Consumer benefits from smart metering confirmed

Smart metering can provide a wide range of benefits for both consumers and utilities. This report concludes that significant reductions in the energy used by consumers, and the times of day they use the energy can be achieved by the appropriate smart metering installations. The display of almost real-time energy consumption data on in-home devices (IHDs) led on average to an 8.7% reduction in energy consumption. Lower but still significant reductions of 5%-6% on average were achieved through enhanced, more informative bills and access to usage data on websites. The different types of dynamic pricing mechanisms used in the pilots and roll–outs have all shown that energy loads up to 16% can be shifted (“peak clipping”) for the benefit of consumers and utilities. 

The report also highlights that the above-mentioned results of smart meter enabled programmes can be maintained over years. This demonstrates clearly that behavioural changes by consumers who make use of the potential provided by smart metering technologies can become permanent, securing the significant and long-lasting effects necessary to achieve the ambitious energy efficiency targets that European decision-makers are aiming for by 2020.

Smart metering: the key enabling technology

The report identifies that for all the energy efficiency and consumer benefits to be achieved, smart metering installations must include the ability to present current and historical energy consumption data and information to consumers in a format that they understand. Smart meters need to record and transmit data to display devices to maximise consumer benefits. In addition, smart metering installations must allow multi-tariff energy prices, the use of multi-rate meters and appropriate wide area communications. The report also highlights that the way in which these installations are used by utilities, and the level of education and assistance given to consumers, are as important as the technology. A smart metering installation rich in functionality may not deliver consumer benefits if the consumer is not properly informed and thus engaged. Furthermore, customers need to be motivated to make use of the potential benefits made possible by smart metering technologies. 

Support for European energy policies

The benefits demonstrated by the 100 worldwide installations could, if delivered across Europe, contribute to the EU goal of a 20% reduction in energy use by 2020 if similar installations were set up across Europe. Smart meter data delivered through IHDs alone has been shown to be a quick, effective and high-performing tool for raising consumer awareness and education, leading to an average 8.5% energy reduction. The report has shown that the opportunities to use smart meter installations to allow demand pricing mechanisms, as part of the wider European objectives of smart electricity grids, deliver significant benefits. The Electricity Directive requiring 80% of European consumers to have smart metering systems by 2020 will allow many of these benefits to be achieved. 

The proposed revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive acknowledges the importance of active consumer engagement through displays and other technologies, while introducing demand-side oriented dynamic pricing schemes. This will lay the foundations to allow consumers and utilities to realise the full potential of smart metering enabled programmes demonstrated in the report. Consumers gain from the win-win combination of feedback/consumer education with dynamic pricing programmes, resulting in lower energy consumption and bills while shifting critical peak loads.    

ESMIG as the funder

ESMIG commissioned the report from the energy think tank VaasaETT to collate all the evidence, with the aim of providing a source of comparative data for the smart metering industry in Europe. There is an increasing number of smart meter systems that are now monitored to measure their effects on energy use, and other consumer and energy management impacts.  Treated individually, any results are not easily applicable to other roll-outs, as the details and circumstances of each can vary considerably leading to very different effects on energy efficiency and consumer impact.  However, the results from the report provide for the first-time solid information and in-depth analysis. This is available for use by EU Member States and national regulators to help design effective smart meter roll-outs, maximising energy efficiency and consumer benefits, in the confident knowledge that many installations have already delivered significant benefits. 

ESMIG expects that the report will encourage further research into and debate on the best use of smart metering technologies in Europe and beyond. Feedback and discussion on the report’s findings or future research topics is very welcome and would be appreciated.

Download the report here:


Notes for Editors: 

About ESMIG 

The European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG) is the European industry association that provides knowledge and expertise on Smart Metering and related communications at a European level. ESMIG's members are the leading companies in the European Smart Metering Market: meter manufacturers, IT companies, communication service providers and system integrators. ESMIG covers all aspects of Smart Metering, including electricity, gas, water and heat measurement. Member companies cover the entire value chain from meter manufacturing, software, installation and consulting to communications and system integration. By giving support to European Union Institutions, Member States and Standardisation Organisations, the industry group aims to assist in the development of national and European-wide introduction, roll-out and management of Smart Metering solutions. 

ESMIG is an Official Associate of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign: 

For further information and feedback on the report please contact: 

ESMIG Secretariat 

Phone: +32 2 7068257, Fax: +32 2 7068253 


European Smart Metering Industry Group 

Boulevard A. Reyers 80, 1030 Brussels, Belgium


Jessica Stromback 

Office: +358 (0)92 516 6257 

Mobile +358 (0)44 906 6821

For questions on the research please contact:

Christophe Dromacque 

Office: +358 (0)9 2516 6257 

Mobile: +358 (0)4 4906 6822