Households face a £215 bill to pay for the installation of smart meters in every home over the next 15 years, MPs have warned.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) questioned whether the £10.9 billion programme, which will ultimately be funded by households, will end up saving them money as the government claims.
The Government estimates that bills will only rise to pay for the installation of smart meters by £6 per household next year, and slightly less the year after, before the devices start saving them money.
However, this assumes that households will reduce their energy consumption.
It also assumes that energy companies will not overcharge for the installations, and will pass on the savings they make from not having to carry out manual meter readings to consumers through lower bills.
The PAC warned that the programme will do little to help the most vulnerable households who currently use pre-payment meters. Energy companies do not have to replace these with smart meters.
MPs are also concerned that the programme is unnecessarily expensive. For example, hand-held “in-home display” units costing about £25 will be given to households as well as smart meters. The PAC report said that the information about energy usage could be just as easily displayed on a smart phone.
Richard Lloyd, executive director from which, the consumer group, said: “As consumers will ultimately foot the bill for smart meters, the programme must be done at the lowest possible cost and ensuring that consumers benefit, not just suppliers.”
Baroness Verma, parliamentary under secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “The nationwide roll-out is part of the Government’s complete overhaul of the UK’s energy infrastructure which will revolutionise the market and support the development of smarter electricity grids. It will help reduce consumer bills, enable faster, easier switching and give households control at the touch of a button.”
Separately, energy suppliers are today [wed] launching a publicity campaign to try to return £153 million to former customers who were still in credit when they switched supplier.
Companies have promised to spend any credits which have been unclaimed for two years on helping vulnerable customers.
Ofgem, the regulator, ordered the industry to do more to return unclaimed credits in February.
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