Millions of UK households are stuck with faulty smart meters. Figures suggest three million homes are stuck with faulty devices in a rollout that is close to being over budget and overdue.
According to the National Audit Office (NAO), nearly one in 10 smart meters installed in UK homes are not working properly.
It comes as the roll-out, which was supposed to see a smart meter installed in every home by 2020, is now forecast to cost more than £13.5billion.
Furthermore, the Government lagging far behind its original target of putting smart meters in 80 percent of homes by 2025.
Currently, just 57 percent of homes had had one installed by March this year according to data from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).
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Suppliers have reportedly told the NAO that they are finding it increasingly difficult to persuade customers to accept smart meters.
They added that they had already plucked all the “low-hanging fruit” of households who were willing to install the meters.
The report also highlighted fears that the Department was focusing too much on the number of smart meters installed rather than the quality of their installation, leaving broken or improperly installed meters unaddressed.
It is believed that of the three million smart meters not working that many are “dumb” first-generation models that stop functioning after consumers switch to different suppliers.
Chairman of the cross-party public accounts committee Dame Meg Hiller said the actual smart meter takeup was a far cry from the original 2020 goal.
She said: “Today’s NAO report shows the Government has made progress addressing technological issues in smart meters since 2018.
“However, 10 years on from the requirement for suppliers to install smart meters in all homes and small businesses, just 57pc of meters are smart, a far cry from the original target.”
The report added that 37 percent of customers surveyed by Smart Energy GB, the company tasked with the roll-out, reported issues with their smart meters including inaccurate bills and the display refusing to show any information.
Smart meters are slowly replacing traditional gas and electric meters and send automatic readings to energy suppliers, the display screens are meant to show customers how much they are spending on power.
Consumer champion Martyn James said: “From the moment the first roll-out of smart meters was confirmed it was patently obvious that millions of smart meters are underperforming. The industry needs to recognise this and not treat customers like they are in the wrong.”
In a statement, Smart Energy GB’s Dan Brooke, said: “The report identifies areas for improvement, but also highlights that past challenges have been largely overcome and that smart meters are helping people to reduce their energy use and save more money than ever before.”
A DESNZ spokesman added: “As the NAO recognises, we’ve made good progress in the roll-out of smart meters with over 32 million now in homes and small businesses across Great Britain, putting them in control of their energy use and saving money on bills.
“But we want more people to benefit as soon as possible. That’s why we’ve set energy suppliers ambitious but realistic installation targets and are working with them to speed up the roll-out.”