How can we encourage the take-up of smart technology?



British Gas


Incentivising the adoption of smart meters

The roll-out of smart meters to households is an essential part of the UK’s transition to a greener and more efficient energy grid, and the government has tasked energy suppliers with installing one in every home in Great Britain by 2020. In practice the roll-out has been considerably slower than planned, with consumers slow to adopt the new technology. We worked with British Gas, the UK’s largest energy supplier, to increase uptake.

Experimenting with incentives

We trialled two financial incentives against a control letter, offering the equivalent of £5 or £10 in Nectar Points to customers who had a free smart meter installed. These incentives were randomised across roughly 40,000 customers, and the letters accompanying them were redesigned to draw attention towards the incentives.

Small change, large result

Our redesigned incentive letters increased the number of people adopting a smart meter by 30% compared to the control.

Varying the size of the reward - £5 or £10 - didn’t lead to any greater change in behaviour; the important factor was the gift.

Our follow-up research found that adopting smart meters had no effect on customer energy use, suggesting that measures to increase engagement with the technology will be important in realising the potential benefits.

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