Smarter protections: Potential risks for consumers in a smart energy future

Published: 21 May 2019

Decarbonisation, decentralisation, and digitalisation are driving changes in the market, challenging how people might experience energy in the future.

A key enabler of this change will be the technology people bring into their homes and how they choose to use it. Energy Systems Catapult has been looking at the customer journey as people buy, use and experience problems with these technologies.

There are three main themes emerging from the work – control, understanding and support when things go wrong.

Key points

  • The transition from kilowatt-hours to ‘warm hours’ was difficult for some, especially when they had to compare prices with traditional models
  • Some did not fully understand the details of the energy offer before they had experienced it and there was evidence that problems may only emerge as the service is used over time
  • Within the trial, consumers were comfortable with sharing their data but when probed did not know who accessed their data, how often and how to change their data sharing preferences
  • Consumers did not always know who would have been responsible if something went wrong.


The work, commissioned by Citizens Advice, has been broken down into two reports:

Smarter protections cover Smarter protections: Potential risks for consumers in a smart energy future (Press DOWNLOAD button)

Explores the consumer issues through a short six week activity of desk based research, a workshop between Citizens Advice and Energy Systems Catapult and some feedback from industry and policy stakeholders in the sector. This document summarises the key findings from these activities. The 10 consumer risks identified span across consumer experiences.


Smarter protections field trials cover Smarter protections: Using field trials to explore how people understand energy as a service

This document focuses on some of the 10 specific risk areas identified in the first report. It reports on findings from studying consumers’ real experiences trialling an innovative energy service in the Energy Systems Catapult’s ‘Living Lab’. More information about the trial is available here.