Smart choices: the impact of smart meters on consumer choice

Technology transforming markets:
large-scale field experiments in electricity use

Unprecedented access to the energy usage data of more than 8000 consumers has enabled University of Melbourne researchers to investigate how people engage with smart meter data and how it affects their bills and carbon footprint.

Economists David Byrne and Leslie Martin partnered with Billcap, an online consumer smart meter tool, for an Australian Research Council-funded project investigating how smart meters impact on the energy usage of average customers.

Early research has shown that informed consumers, meaning those who use the meters to track their energy usage, are more likely to make changes that benefit their hip pocket and the environment.

So successful has the original partnership been that Click Energy, Simply Energy and South East Water have now jumped on board.

The research team is continuing to explore pressing questions in the electricity market such as how smart meter data can be used to simplify consumer choice and how consumers will respond to electricity prices becoming increasingly dynamic.

It has also led to additional research into utility bill shock, or unexpectedly high bills, including how it occurs and ways in which smart meter technology can help identify those who are likely to experience it and what can be done to help.

Read the Exchange article

Impact

This research is already having an unprecedented impact in the electricity and water markets, providing new insights into the way in which customers interact with smart meter technology.

The research is expected to help policymakers assess the effectiveness of the mandatory introduction of the meters in Victoria, while also helping electricity and water retailers better understand and respond to consumer needs.

Investigators

Collaborative Partners