Trials find value of IHDs for smart meters

The government will not make any changes to the current In-Home Display (IHD) mandate licence conditions, following energy suppliers’ trials of alternatives to IHDs.

On 16 September, it published its policy conclusions following the trials as part of its Smart Metering Implementation Programme. Each trial used electricity and gas usage data to quantify differences in energy consumption between customers using an IHD and those using an app. It was found that apps were likely to be less effective at IHDs when it came to reducing customer’s energy consumption, while also revealed that IHDs appeared to be more readily adopted and better suited to a wider demographic.

The government said it could not be confident alternatives to IHDs would have similar or better impacts in terms of supporting customers cutting their energy consumption. It also noted the direct energy saving benefits – enabled by IHDs – was valued at over £4.7bn in its 2019 Cost Benefit Analysis and formed a key part of the business case for smart meters. It concluded that making changes to the IHD mandate conditions – requiring suppliers to offer IHDs to domestic consumers at no additional charge when smart meters are installed – would undermine realisation of benefits to individual consumers and society as a whole.

The trials have also highlighted several features that could be key to engaging consumers, the government added. This included the ability to send push messages or alerts on consumption. Based on this, it called for innovation by suppliers and other market participants to continue.