UK government plans smart energy requirements

  • April 22, 2024
  • Steve Rogerson

The UK government plans to introduce minimum requirements on electricity suppliers for cyber security and grid stability.

The proposals, set out in a consultation document (, provide minimum product standards for energy smart appliances to give consumers confidence to take up smart devices and make it easier for them to benefit from cheaper bills. Electric heating appliances with the greatest flexibility potential – such as heat pumps – could also be required to have smart functionality.

Smart appliances let consumers manage their energy use to benefit from cheaper tariffs at times of low electricity demand, for example a smart charge point which waits for a period of low-demand overnight to charge the car. This can reduce the consumer’s bill while also ensuring the car is ready to be used in the morning.

By shifting some electricity use away from peak periods, this will ease pressure on the grid and reduce reliance on backup fossil fuel generation and the need for new infrastructure such as pylons, helping save up to £50bn by 2050. The use of smart systems and flexibility could create 10,000 jobs and increase GDP by up to £1.3bn by 2050. A further 14,000 jobs could be created by exporting the technology.

“Smart devices mean consumers with a smart meter can easily use the cheapest tariffs to charge their car or heat their home,” said Lord Callanan, minister for energy efficiency and green finance. “These latest measures will help families get the best deal through their smart device and could help save up to £50bn by 2050, meaning lower bills for families, while supporting up to 24,000 jobs across the UK.”

Proportionate standards will be set for organisations providing smart energy services, giving consumers the power to compare services while ensuring they are not unfairly locked in or out of contracts, and preventing the mis-selling of services.

The plans will also address the issue of some tariffs only working with certain brands of appliance. This will ensure that appliances such as EV smart charge points and smart heat pumps can work with any supplier or tariff, making it easier for consumers to access the best deals regardless of what device they have.

The flexible operation of smart appliances is supported by smart meters, which are unlocking smart tariffs for consumers, helping them save energy and money. Over half of British homes already have smart meters, meaning they can access cheaper, off-peak energy tariffs that can save households around £900 a year.

“Public participation in our energy system is not a nice to have but an absolute imperative to reach net zero in a cost-effective and secure manner,” said Sarah Honan, head of policy at the Association for Decentralised Energy ( “Following the first consultation and the passage of the Energy Act, this publication marks another important step towards unlocking the value of demand flexibility through smart-as-standard devices and competitive customer offerings from a range of service providers.”

The measures also include a legal requirement to treat consumers fairly and require service providers to have a consumer complaints process in line with that required for energy suppliers, as well as access to a redress process. The government says it will also reduce the barriers to those switching providers and strengthen cyber security and data protection requirements for all smart energy providers.

An energy smart appliance can communicate with energy suppliers and service providers and turn up or turn down its electricity consumption to benefit the consumer and the electricity grid. For example, this can mean turning up or down at a specific time of day to access low-cost electricity through an off-peak tariff, saving the consumer money on their electricity bills.

Depending on what tariff or smart mode the consumer has selected, the device can also turn up or down its consumption depending on a request from the grid, such as turning consumption down in a period of high electricity demand, generating financial reward for the consumer and helping maintain the stability of the grid. These devices include smart EV chargers, smart heat pumps and batteries.

Smart meters, on the other hand, are upgrades to traditional energy meters. They are connected to a home’s gas and electricity supply and provided free of charge by an energy supplier. They measure energy consumption, send meter readings to suppliers to ensure accurate billing and help track energy use and costs via an in-home display.

Smart appliances have numerous advantages over non-smart appliances and their price reflects this, however the government expects this to reduce over time as the market grows. Consumers will also be able to make back the price premium over the lifetime of the product through smart use and the associated bill savings. The plans aim to ensure consumers are not locked-into smart tariff deals that no longer work for them.

Consumers using energy smart appliances are already protected by standard privacy measures. As the use of smart appliances increases – and with it the risk of cyber attacks – the government says it will introduce a proportionate approach to cyber security, giving industry time and notice to update their products accordingly but putting the protection of critical national infrastructure and consumer data protection first and foremost. It is working in partnership with industry to develop a set of standards that takes best practice into account.