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Smartening up: How to improve people's confidence in smart home technology

26 November 2021

Smartening up: How to improve people's confidence in smart home technology [ 4.7 mb]

Direct emissions from buildings account for 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Smart home technology has the power to reduce emissions, keep people’s homes warm and save them money on bills, by helping the grid to run more efficiently.

The mass uptake of smart home technology will help meet the government’s net zero targets. Companies providing smart home technology services should continue to innovate at speed. But this must be supported by a robust regulatory framework to reassure people and build confidence.

In 2022, the government plans to set out an approach to regulating companies providing smart energy products and services. And these regulations must be in place by 2025 to avoid significant detriment.

This report builds on previous Citizens Advice work. In Demanding Attention, we assessed the risks and protection gaps for people using smart energy products and services. Right now, the market feels disjointed and confusing for people and the rules aren’t flexible enough to keep up with innovation.

Our research asked people what’s important to them, heard from smart energy companies about their experiences and considered regulatory approaches in other countries and markets.

This report outlines the key priorities that the government must get right to help people feel confident about smart home technology. We want the government to use these priorities to help shape its regulatory approach.

We have identified 3 outcomes for consumers that government should prioritise.

People should:

  1. feel confident about the contracts they sign up to

  2. know where to go for help

  3. have control over their data

We have recommended a range of regulatory provisions that could achieve these outcomes.

There are many different ways the government could achieve these 3 outcomes. It is essential that the chosen model is appropriate for the diverse markets in which these companies operate and helps encourage innovation.