The adoption of smart water meters is not merely a technological advancement, it’s a crucial step towards water conservation, resilience and a sustainable future. Water suppliers face an imperative challenge – they must increase their water meter rollout. In this blog we look at three compelling reasons why they must step up their efforts to increase the number of smart water meters in homes across the UK. We also take a look at how we can help supplier engage with their customers and educate them on the benefits of accepting a smart meter.  

Three reasons to increase the smart water meter rollout

Reason 1: Meeting ambitious water conservation goals

In response to the latest Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs), the government has highlighted concerns about the water industry’s efforts to drive down consumption. The need for substantial reduction by 2038 is evident, with a target of 20% deemed essential. However, the draft WRMPs currently fall short at 17%, and a gap for non-household customers is even larger, at 1.8% against a need of 9%. Smart water meters are the key to bridging this gap efficiently. 

Reason 2: Enhancing drought resilience

Ofwat, the water regulator, is taking significant steps to improve drought resilience. As part of its 31 investment schemes, which it is accelerating the delivery of, it is proposing a massive smart meter rollout programme. The initiative involves the installation of 462,000 smart meters and an investment of £400 million in water resilience schemes to protect our water supply and increase drought resilience. The smart meter rollout is split between seven schemes: 

Anglian Water: Installing 60,000 smart meters to achieve 1.3 million litres per day in water savings by gaining a near real-time understanding of customers’ usage.

Severn Trent: Deploying 250,000 smart meters to save 11.3 million litres per day by facilitating behaviour change, quicker leak detection and better management of peak demand. 

South West Water: Installing 40,116 smart meters to save 1.2 million litres per day by monitoring near-real-time flows to manage demand and identify leaks more effectively. 

Affinity Water: Implementing 20,000 smart meters to save 0.3 million litres per day by increasing water efficiency and reducing delivery risk of its rollout. 

South Staffordshire Water (including Cambridge Water): Installing 91.400 smart meters across two schemes to save 5.4 million litres per day by reducing water demand and identifying leaks more efficiently. 

Portsmouth Water: Conducting a trial with 500 smart meters as part of an infrastructure setup for a wider rollout. An additional 43,300 smart meters will be installed by 2030, delivering water savings of 2.5 million litres per day. 

Reason 3: Mitigating water shortages in stressed areas

The looming threat of water shortages in areas classified as “water-stressed” demands immediate action. Six million customers residing in water regions including Severn Trent, Wessex Water, South West Water in Bournemouth and the Isles of Scilly may soon be required to install a water meter. This move is essential to mitigate the risk of water shortages and ensure sustainable water management. 

Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Compulsory metering programmes form part of wider efforts to tackle the looming threat of a water shortage crisis and it’s really important customers living in those regions comply with this. Water companies should be offering free water-saving advice and home audits, as well targeted support for customers in financial hardship through schemes like social tariffs and WaterSure.”

Guiding the smart meter rollout

To maximise the success of the smart meter rollout, water companies can take cues from WaterWise, which offers valuable advice and recommendations including:

Engage with customers – When rolling out meters, it will be important to engage with residents about underlying factors such as water behaviours and normative usage practices that shape their water demand.

Segment target audiences and tailor messages – When communicating with the public about smart water metering, segmenting audiences according to what they might view as the biggest benefit or the strongest motivator for uptake, and tailoring messages will be more effective than a generalised ‘broadcast’ style communication.

Increase awareness and address misconceptions – Providing households with information about smart water metering and being clear about actions to take to get a smart water meter can help to increase awareness and address misconceptions about the device. If successful, increased public awareness could lead to people ‘buying-in’ to the objective of taking up a smart water meter to save water or at the very least, gain individual benefits. This can be beneficial for a mandatory rollout programme.

Provide relevant facts and figures – Having access to facts, figures and tools that are specific and relevant to residents can also support their decision making. These can include case studies from comparable households or the use of the CCW calculator, as well as the use of trial periods that enable households to test the impact of a smart meter on a shadow bill.

Advizzo – transforming the customer experience

One of the biggest challenges that suppliers face is the fact that consumers are under no obligation to accept a smart meter. Concerns from people resisting a smart meter include seeing it as an intrusion on their privacy and data privacy; making them vulnerable to hackers; and even damaging their health. It’s time for suppliers to up their game and make more effort to motivate customers to accept a smart meter. And here’s where our user-led experiences can really make a difference.

Delivering a smart customer experience

We harness the power of behavioural science and data 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.

Increase engagement

By delivering personalised and timely behavioural messages across multiple channels, such as the web, email or text messages, we encourage customers to make informed choices and motivate behavioural 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.

Deliver information

Advizzo’s platform and customer engagement solutions are the perfect channel for energy 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 they can still switch supplier; 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 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 adopt a smart water meter.

Over the past six years we have been working with water companies worldwide, proving that our behavioural science based customer engagement programmes can achieve water use efficiency targets. In fact our SaaS platform is currently serving one million people across the world. Let us help you to prove the business case for increasing the roll-out of your smart meter programme. If you need further evidence that we can support and promote your smart meter roll out, then we’d love to the opportunity to talk to you. Get in touch to find out more!