By Max Clarke

Smart meters, providing real-time information on a home or business’ energy usage, are to be introduced across the country in a five year rollout beginning in 2014.

“Smart meters are a key part of giving us all more control over how we use energy at home and at work, helping us to cut out waste and save money,” said Secretary of State for Energy and Climate, Change Chris Huhne.

It is estimated that the 53 million smart meters in 30 million properties will deliver savings of £7.3 billion in energy consumption, equating to £23 per household per year by 2020. The scheme will also provide energy networks with better information with which to manage and plan current activities as well as the move towards smart grids to support sustainable energy supplies.

Said energy minister Charles Hendry: “Smart meters will enable us to modernise the electricity system over the coming years and create the smart grids we will need to bring new low carbon energy sources online, and handle much higher demand for electricity as we progressively electrify transport and heating.”

Critics of the scheme point out that the £23 annual savings will be of little practical benefit to households, as Tom Lyon, energy expert at price comparison site, told the Daily Telegraph:

“The average household energy bill is already £1,132 a year with £84 of that made up by hidden taxes. Policies launched under the previous Government are expected to add a further 6 per cent or £72 in levies over the next decade — this means that the hidden taxes on our energy bills will add up to £156 a year, far outweighing the potential £23 net saving offered through smart metering.”