Smart meters to watch UK's energy hungry gadgets

LONDON (Reuters) - Fifteen thousand Britons will soon be able to see how exactly much their electric gadgets are costing them as part of new trials aimed at cutting energy waste and fighting climate change.

The government hopes that if people can see how much energy their big new TVs are wasting while they are in the kitchen using still more power making tea and toast, they might change their behavior.

“Changing consumer habits is vital if we are to cut our energy use and reduce the impact of climate change,” the new Business and Enterprise Secretary, John Hutton, said in a statement.

“Smart meters provide the cutting edge technology to enable this to happen. The results of the trials will provide invaluable evidence to support the future rollout of displays and smart meters; helping to cut consumer bills and cut our carbon emissions.”

Forty thousand homes will be taking part in the energy saving trials, with 8,000 homes being given clip on real time display units for their existing meters and others testing other ways to cut energy waste.

EDF Energy EDF.PA, E.ON UK EONG.DE, Scottish and Southern Energy SSE.L and Scottish Power IBE.MC are to conduct the trials, with the help of a 10-million pound grant.

Smart meters, whereby customers can see on a small screen how much energy each household appliance is using at any time, are seen as a key tool for cutting energy waste.

“Smart meters have great potential to help customers better understand their energy consumption and encourage energy efficiency,” Alistair Buchanan, the chief executive of UK energy regulator Ofgem, said in a statement.