By Daniel Hunter

The nation’s economy will be £3.5 billion better off thanks to the roll out of smart meters to British businesses that can each expect to save at least £230 on their annual energy bills, according to a new report published today by British Gas and Oxford Economics.

The report, which analyses the costs and benefits of smart meters from 2012 to 2030, finds that whilst the national roll out in every home and business in the country will cost £11.5 Billion, the benefits of rolling smart meters out to homes could bring £22 Billion and the rollout to businesses could bring £3.5 Billion to the UK. This represents a total gain for the country of nearly £14 Billion.

The findings are based on the use of the latest available data and the inclusion of additional benefits not previously considered, making this report the most comprehensive to date.

The report identifies the following benefits for Britain’s SMEs:

· The typical SME will save a minimum of 4.7% on their electricity bills and 4.3% on their gas bills — the equivalent of a £230 annual saving — as they become more energy conscious by engaging with real time smart meter data.

· Savings will rise to at least 7.5% for those businesses receiving additional energy saving advice from their supplier informed by smart meter data, equating to £390 per year, according to a report by the Carbon Trust. This advice could include changing lighting or upgrading old energy intensive appliances such as fridges, air conditioners and ovens. Identifiable savings could even increase to 15% (almost £800).

· £31 million in time saved due to the end of estimated bills. Smart meters will automatically send meter readings to suppliers saving businesses the hassle of having their meter read or submitting meter readings, allowing them to invest this time elsewhere.

Many British Gas business customers are already seeing the benefits of smart metering, following the launch of Business Energy Insight earlier this year. Business Energy Insight is an industry leading service combining smart metering, an online energy dashboard and bespoke energy efficiency advice. Customers using the service have already saved up to 20 percent on their energy bills.

“Since having our smart meter installed, we have completely changed our approach to managing our energy use," Robert Purcell, owner of Barnstaple Bakery that has been using Business Energy Insight since February 2012, said.

"As a bakery we use a lot of energy especially powering our ovens. But by looking at our actual energy consumption on a daily basis we’ve identified energy saving measures such as changing our lighting, replacing some of our old energy intensive appliances and being far more vigilant in turning our ovens off when we’re not using them. In less than a year we’ve managed to cut our bills by 12 percent and save £900. Like many small businesses we’re trying to save every penny we can so these savings are making a real difference.”

The Government requires all homes and businesses to have a smart meter installed by 2019. British Gas already has the largest number of smart meters in Great Britain with over 600,000 installed in homes and businesses so far.

“Smart meters will fundamentally change the way businesses manage their energy. They will put businesses in control of their energy costs and help them identify steps they can take to reduce their energy bills at a time when controlling costs is a priority for many small businesses," Angela Needle, Head of Energy Consultancy at British Gas Business, said.

“At British Gas we’re committed to rolling-out smart meters as quickly as possible so our business customers can feel the benefits. We already have more smart meters on our business customers’ walls than any other supplier and through Business Energy Insight many of our business customers are using data from their smart meters to help them make significant savings to their energy costs that can be invested in growing their business.”

Andrew Tessler, Senior Economist at Oxford Economics, said: “This report shows that there is a clear financial benefit to Britain in rolling out smart meters. Together with the creation of the Data Communications Centre (DCC), smart meters can also greatly reduce the time taken to switch suppliers and make switching more convenient for customers.”

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