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Understanding attitudes to Data Sharing for Citizens Advice


Citizens Advice commissioned research to understand how consumers with and without smart meters feel about how their energy usage data is and could be used and the current protections/choices afforded to them when it is used. The research also aimed to understand what trade-offs consumers would be willing to make in exchange for data being used and reassurances needed over data sharing.


The research consisted of a quantitative survey of over 3000 energy consumers across Great Britain – primarily online interviews but 15% of the sample were interviewed face-to-face to include the offline population.  Survey materials were tested via cognitive interviews, to assess comprehension of the research questions, followed by a pilot of 50 interviews to test all aspects of the survey design. Research included a sophisticated trade-off element to understand what consumers are looking for in exchange for sharing their energy data, and which elements of the ‘offer’ are most appealing.


Citizens Advice published the results of the research with clear recommendations. Whilst there is a strong appetite for smart meters and devices, where data sharing is concerned consumers worry that their information may be used for something they’ve not agreed to. Moving forwards, consumer protections for energy data are crucial; data choices must remain central to the smart meter rollout and information about data options should be accessible by all. The research also uncovered which aspects of the data sharing transaction are most likely to encourage consumers to agree to share their data at more detailed levels.