IHDs have a real impact on changing habits – research from Smart Energy GB shows the majority (83%) of people with a smart meter (and IHD) say they have a better idea of what they’re spending on energy and 2/3rds of those who have already had a smart meter installed claim to be more conscious of their energy use.
The number of people living in vulnerable circumstances in the UK is significant. There are 4 million households in fuel poverty, and over 1 million in debt to their energy supplier. There are 4.5 million customers on electric pre-payment meters. Over two million are living with sight loss and nearly one million with severe or profound hearing difficulties. 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems each year.
There are 13 million people that live in fuel poverty in the UK and 12 million of those are aged over the age of 65. There are 1.5 million people with learning difficulties, nearly one million with dementia and 5 million adults who lack basic reading writing and numeracy skills. Also, over 5 million people have never used the internet.
Chameleon believes there are two ways to support vulnerable customers:
1 – use data insights to help to identify vulnerable customers
2 – use the IHD to provide tailored support to vulnerable customers
1. Using data insights to help to identify vulnerable customers
For energy suppliers to provide support they must know who needs it, and identification of customers in vulnerable circumstances is very difficult, time consuming and costly. At the moment it costs suppliers several hundred pounds to find customers eligible for ECO measures. Chameleon believes using digitised data could reduce this significantly, and that cost savings could be used to fund additional help to customers in vulnerable circumstances, either directly or by keeping costs down for all customers.
2. Using the IHD to provide tailored help to vulnerable customers
So, once we know who needs support, how can the IHD provide it? Chameleon is working on several use cases, but there are many more. One use case is, for example, using the IHD to send specific, targeted, messages to customers to inform and encourage them to act. The IHD could, for example, encourage the customer to check that they are on the right tariff and payment method, that they have maximised energy efficiency options, and where necessary that they consider switching supplier to a better tariff. If a supplier has concerns that a customer in vulnerable circumstances may be falling into debt, or self-disconnecting, messages of support and links to support agencies could be sent. Importantly customers would be able to opt out of receiving messages at any time, however suppliers would have confidence that the information was reaching their customers, compared to sending information in the post which can be costly and ignored.
Chameleon is interested to further explore how its technology can assist customers in vulnerable circumstances. If you would like to discuss this with us please get in touch .