Linky: Do smart meters actually help reduce electricity consumption?

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Contributed date

May 1, 2020 - 8:48pm

Critical Commentary

When I saw this article, it underscored how important it is to engage energy technology users in the design and decision-making process of energy initiatives, interventions and retrofit incentives. This is because, the success of these initiatives is contingent on how individuals react to them. Scheme designs, provision of information, financial incentives including particularities of the household significantly affect the reaction of consumers according to Gillard et al. (2017). This could aptly explain the reason for the resistance the smart meter “Linky” faced when introduced to the French market. According to this article, “the roll-out of electricity smart-metering devices is well underway in the European Union: a recent official report indicates that most EU countries are on track to have 80% of households equipped by 2020 (European Commission, 2016)”. 

I was particularly intrigued by the reasons for the resistance of the households to the installation of the smart meters. The fear that the smart meters even if installed for free, could reflect in future price increases, and utility companies were the ultimate beneficiaries of this initiative was one reason. Privacy concerns as well as health dangers due to radiation emissions from these meters were other concerns. I was glad when the article highlighted the fact that households didn’t see what they stood to benefit presently and in the long term. This clearly contrasts the purpose of this initiative which is, “by providing real-time feedback about electricity consumption, smart meters are supposed to help consumers reduce their electricity bills”. This benefit was proven by a study conducted over an 11-month period to observe the hour-by-hour electricity consumption of 900 normal households in Linz (Austria) who were provided with smart meters from their electricity provider without the households asking. They were also provided with regular detailed feedback. Findings of the study included a 5% reduction in the electricity consumption of the households over the study period. It was also realized that “the smart meters reduced both peak load and base load”.

I believe this accentuates the fact that, treating consumers as curators and not targets of policies could really help improve their quality of life because they get to have a say and also obtain a proper understanding of the intention and purpose of the initiatives, and this in turn boosts their level of engagement and uptake. 


Faure, C. & Schleich, J. (2018). Linky: Do smart meters actually help reduce electricity consumption? Retrieved on 4/30/2020 from



Cite as

Corinne Faure and Joachim Schleich, "Linky: Do smart meters actually help reduce electricity consumption?", contributed by Barbara Ackun, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 1 May 2020, accessed 1 March 2024.