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The latest from the team

d+m awarded project led by Vital Energi on Smart Energy Tariffs

We’re excited to announce a big new project win! Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme, we are helping develop a tool for consumers to compare smart tariffs to incentivise tariff innovation and the adoption of low carbon technologies.

Smart tariffs are energy tariffs which vary depending on when energy is consumed, constituting a critical part of the UK’s ability to achieve the 2050 net zero target. They reward consumers for using energy at non-peak hours, allowing for an increase in renewable energy generation and facilitating cost effective grid management.

Vital Energi are leading a consortium of industry experts, which we are proud to be a part of, to drive innovation in the development and support of these tariffs.

The consortium has been tasked with developing a comparison tool prototype to help consumers find the tariff that best suits their needs. The tool will have the potential to inform consumers on the adoption of low-carbon technologies such as electric vehicles or heat pumps. Additionally it could help consumers see the benefits of smart meters, as having a smart meter gives people a wider choice of tariffs and also allows them to get accurate price comparisons based on their actual consumption.

We’ve just finished conducting and delivering the first phase of the project, which consisted of 24 qualitative online interviews with energy consumers. The research was required to gain a better understanding of the ways in which consumers engage with and understand the category, as well as identifying their needs and barriers.

Here are some of our highlight findings:

  • At a wider category level, engagement with energy and energy companies is low and largely characterised by inertia
  • This is primarily driven by a sense of low trust in the category, along with little understanding of the technical jargon used at consumer level (i.e. fixed vs. variable, kw/h usage, etc.)
  • There is also very low awareness of Smart Energy Tariffs, including existing time-of-use tariffs
  • However, TOU tariffs have potential: if they allow consumers to make informed choices about their energy tariffs based on their needs and actual usage, they could help overcome some of the barriers described above
  • We identified 7 distinct user typologies within the wider consumer audience we interviewed – we profiled them based on their overall level of engagement with the category and what their end ‘goal’ or aspiration is relating to their use of energy
  • We investigated which Smart Energy Tariffs would better fit the needs of each group, and what their specific barriers to take-up would be
  • Finally, we were able to begin drafting ways in which communications and, ultimately, functions within the comparison tool could help overcome these barriers and encourage engagement

The next stage of the project involves conducting a robust, quantitative study with the aim of validating and quantifying the consumer typologies we identified, prioritising these groups based on their size and needs and, along with the rest of the consortium, begin developing strategies to address each of these audiences’ needs within the prototype tool.

Exciting things to come! Watch this space…

If you’d like to know more about the project and the consortium, please visit the dedicated government website: