Smart meters 'will cost households more'

Plans to install smart energy meters in every UK home could cost households even more, a consumer group warned the Government last night. A new report by Which? claims ministers are too hands-off about the £12bn project and are not properly in control of the costs. They warn that customers may not be protected from sharp price rises.

The meters will give almost real-time information about gas and electricity use, so customers can see clearly the immediate benefit of reducing energy consumption.

Caroline Flint, the shadow Energy Secretary, said: "The Government needs to make sure the smart meter roll-out doesn't cost consumers more than it needs to, or include any hidden costs." The energy minister, Charles Hendry, insisted smart meters give "more control on how you use energy at home and at work".