Increasing the rollout of smart meters across the UK is going to be essential to the delivery of a smarter future for the UK’s water supply. Access to timely, accurate water meter data makes tackling inefficient water usage so much easier. Afterall, you can’t begin to manage and reduce consumption of something you’re unable to measure properly.
Smart metering allows for much closer monitoring of water consumption – by both the customer and the supplier, and makes it easier to detect water leaks. Another key benefit of smart water meters is that they provide suppliers with direct access to regular and accurate customer consumption data, without which it’s difficult to benchmark national progress or devise effective strategies by evaluating interventions.
Last year Thames Water temporarily pulled the plug on distributing free water saving products to its customers. Why? Because it decided to prioritise smart water meter roll-out above the offer of free water saving devices for customers. Water supply in London and across the Thames Valley is under intense pressure and there’s a real risk that people’s demand for water could outstrip supply. As a result, Thames Water has been exploring measures to try and reduce the pressure on water resources. This includes compulsory water metering.
Over the last few years Thames Water has undertaken a strategic, target-driven plan to install more smart water meters. By April 2021 it had connected over half a million customers and its goal is to have meters fitted for all suitable homes by 2035.
Thames Water’s argument is that its smart metered customers use on average 17% less water than those without a meter. In addition, following one of its ‘smarter home visits’, households with typically high water consumption reduce their usage by around 100 litres per day. During one of these visits its team help identify and fix leaking taps and toilets for free, and help the household to save water and reduce future bills. However, these visits are expensive and it is not possible for 100% of households to receive a visit, so alternative customer engagement strategies that achieve these results at cost and scale are required
To date, smart meters have helped detect more than 28,000 leaks on Thames Water customers’ private supply pipes, which have been repaired by the supplier or the property owners, saving 43 million litres of water a day.1
In a recent report Thames Water wrote “Digital engagement utilising smart meter data is the key emerging technology which could deliver both water efficiency and wastage demand reduction.”
Compulsory smart metering is not the norm. In most other regions it is still optional. However, Welsh Water is following Thames Water’s example. In March 2021, only 47% of its customers had a meter, most of which are read manually, compared to the industry average at the time of 63%. As part of a wider strategy to reduce demand, Welsh Water plans to start installing smart meters in two years’ time.
How is your smart meter roll-out going?
Here’s how we can help
We harness the power of behavioural science to create unique customer engagement solutions that are proven to help water and energy customers to better understand their usage and motivate them to make changes – whether that’s to reduce their consumption or accept a smart meter.
Flexible SaaS solutions that use behavioural and data science to understand and trigger customer engagement are more effective than traditional approaches. We do this through personalised and timely behavioural messages across multiple channels that are designed to motivate behaviour changes. This increased interaction with customers promotes confidence and trust – an essential tool in any effort by suppliers to encourage conversion to smart meters. You can read more about customer engagement in our Blog – Engaging with customers through a time of crisis – lessons from lockdown.
Our platform and customer engagement solutions are the perfect channel for water suppliers to educate and inform customers on the advantages that smart meters can deliver, such as negating the need to submit a meter reading, accurate bills, as well as reduced consumption. FAQs that customers have about smart meters can also be addressed, such as informing customers that installations are free; that their data is protected; or how to request a smart meter.
Reveal potential savings
One of the most persuasive messages that we can send to a water customer is a comparison of their average consumption, with that of similar households in their neighbourhood. Providing customers with personalised consumption comparisons with neighbours that have reduced their bill having installed a smart meter can prove to be very persuasive in encouraging a customer to convert to a smart meter.