Brits reluctant to share personal energy use

UK consumers are reluctant to share data about personal energy use when it comes to smart technologies designed to monitor it, according to news research.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that more than half of people quizzed (58 per cent) would be willing to reduce their personal consumption, but were less inclined to share their information with third parties.

Demand-side management (DSM) systems use technology such as smart metres, which transmit information about how much energy was used from the demand – or customer – side to energy companies.

Although this information can then be used to develop more energy efficient practices to reduce UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, around 16 per cent of survey respondents said they would be uncomfortable sharing data about their personal energy use with any outside party.

Those concerned about climate change were more likely to accept smart technologies such as DSM, while those worried about data sharing or the cost of energy were less likely to accept various DSM scenarios.

Alexa Spence, from the University of Nottingham who led the research, said: “Notably, new smart energy technologies are being presented to consumers as a means of saving money, but people who are most concerned about costs, often those in most of need of cost savings, are actually least accepting of these. In particular people concerned about energy costs are less willing to share their energy data and that relates to this lower acceptance of DSM.

“This may partly be due to lower levels of trust in this group: people concerned about costs may also be less likely to own their homes, less likely to be able to afford any upfront investment that might be required, and may be distrusting of the payback that DSM might offer,” she said.

The smart technologies featured in the survey, which had 2,445 respondents, included timed shut-offs for electronic devices and allowing electricity network operators to make decisions about the most efficient times of day to run appliances like washing machines and fridge-freezers.

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