Citizens Advice has called on the government to extend the smart meter rollout by three years after receiving 3,000 complaints about the gadgets.
Smart meters are due to be rolled out to houses in England, Scotland and Wales by 2020.
But Victoria MacGregor, director of energy at the charity, has called for the rollout to be extended until 2023.
She says that while smart meters will “bring a raft of positive changes” - with 80% of people who have had one installed reportedly being happy with it - she is concerned that suppliers are having to install smart meters at an “increasingly unrealistic rate”.
And that this time pressure will lead to a poorer quality installation experience and risks reduced value for money for consumers.
Here at Moneywise, we’ve reported numerous problems with the rollout from households feeling pressured to take up a meter to one energy supplier telling us energy firms ‘don’t have a prayer’ of installing smart meters by 2020 deadline.
Only last month, a cross-party groups of MPs also warned that the rollout has been “plagued by repeated delays and cost increases, with suppliers now almost certain to miss the 2020 deadline”.
More than 3,000 smart meter issues were reported to Citizens Advice in 2017, including aggressive sales tactics, installation problems, customers still having to submit meter readings manually, and first-generation smart meters - known as SMETS1 meters - losing their smart functionality when consumers switch.
In addition, Citizens Advice has called on the government to publish up-to-date information on costs – it says the most recent cost analysis was published back in 2016.
‘Pushing back rollout would delay benefits’
However, the government says it won’t delay the rollout. Claire Perry, minister for energy and clean growth, comments: “Pushing back the rollout would only delay millions of households from enjoying the substantial benefits of moving to a smarter energy system – helping people to save money by using less energy.”
The government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) added on Twitter: “We always listen to concerns raised by @CitizensAdvice, but these account for just 0.03% of the 11 million smart meters installed so far. Around 80% of people would recommend a smart meter to a friend or relative and 90% are happy with their installation.”
Robert Cheesewright, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB – the company communicating the smart meter roll-out – adds: “Smart meters will help modernise our energy system and improve customer’s experiences, as Citizens Advice recognises.
“They will deliver billions of pounds worth of savings to our economy, and will pave the way for a cleaner, greener and more efficient energy system."
Treble usage after Smart Meter installation
The usage trebled after British Gas Smart Meter installation. Comparing over a year of real (not estimated) old meter readings to the year on Smart Meter readings. Why and how can this be correct? We are all electric and a away the winter months.