Brits’ reluctance to share information about personal energy use could be a major barrier to implementing smart technology that monitors energy use to support efficiency, according to new research out of the University of Nottingham.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, found that while most Brits were willing to reduce energy consumption, in around 20 per cent of those surveyed there was a reluctance to share energy use data with any third parties.

Demand-side management technology like smart meters transmits energy use data to utilities, which can then be used to optimise energy use and encourage more energy-efficient behaviour.

Those concerned about climate change were more likely to accept DSM, while those concerned about the cost of energy were less likely to accept various DSM scenarios, including timed shut-offs for electronic devices and allowing electricity network operators to make decisions about the most efficient times of day to run appliances like washing machines and fridge-freezers. People concerned about the cost of energy were also more reluctant to share their energy data, which partly explained their lower acceptance of DSM.

The researchers, led by Dr Alexa Spence from the university’s Horizon Digital Economy Research institute and School of Psychology, came to the conclusion that governments should emphasise the environmental benefits of DSM and also allay concerns about the policies increasing energy costs.

“Notably, new smart energy technologies are being presented to consumers as a means of saving money but people who are most concerned about costs – often those in most of need of cost savings – are actually least accepting of these,” Dr Spence said.

“In particular people concerned about energy costs are less willing to share their energy data and that relates to this lower acceptance of DSM.

“This may partly be due to lower levels of trust in this group: people concerned about costs may also be less likely to own their homes, less likely to be able to afford any upfront investment that might be required, and may be distrusting of the payback that DSM might offer.”