EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News
Labrador – the company that supplies a ‘smart box’ that sits atop household smart meters to automatically switch the consumer to a lower-price energy supplier – has appointed a new director.
Stephen Beynon – who has made a private investment in the start-up new company – is also Managing Director of Glasgow-based Aggreko Power Solutions.
He will be a non-executive director of Labrador, based near Victoria Station in London.
The Labrador smart energy device is the brainchild of chief executive Jane Lucy (Energyshare, KEO Digital) and chairman, Joe Mangion (energy specialist and investor).
The Labrador is fitted free of charge to customers’ smart meters and seamlessly switches them onto the best energy deal for them with just one click – or automatically – if preferred.
Smart meters send digital readings to energy suppliers so they can provide you with accurate (not estimated) bills. There’s one for gas and one for electricity. As part of a national energy efficiency drive, the government has said that every household in Great Britain should have them by 2020.
Lucy explained: “Once the Labrador Retriever device is plugged into the mains and router in a customer’s home, it constantly tracks household energy use against whatever’s happening in the market.
“If there’s a better deal for you, the Retriever will find it. Then, Labrador will make the switch for you automatically, or we can send you a recommendation.
“We’ll pair the Retriever with your smart meters remotely. Customers will never have to read a meter again.
“For instance, you can set a “minimum savings trigger” – an amount you’d require us to save you before we’re permitted to proceed with a switch. So, if your trigger is £100, our Retriever won’t switch tariffs unless it’s going to save you at least £100 a year.”
Formerly managing director of British Gas Residential Energy, Beynon became excited about Labrador’s potential thanks to insights he gained at British Gas, where he was responsible for a customer base of over nine million households and over £10 billion of revenue, as well as their smart meter roll out.
He said: “Around 60-70% of customers could save hundreds of pounds by switching to a better energy deal, but most people don’t get round to it for one reason or another.
“Labrador puts the customer in control of getting the best deal and lets them shop around easily – almost without doing anything. It could also dramatically increase competition in the marketplace.”
Meanwhile, the number of customers who switched electricity supplier last month (by ‘traditional’ means) increased by 12 per cent on equivalent figures for 2016, with over 400,000 customers choosing to change provider, according to the latest data from Energy UK.
Of this, 25% (100,000 consumers) switched away from traditional Big Six providers to small and medium-sized suppliers.
These latest figures take the total switches so far this year to more than two-and-half million.
Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive, Energy UK said: “Switching continues to become more popular as the energy market becomes more responsive to consumers’ needs. To bust another myth it really does just take minutes to switch to a better deal and save money. Look out for the Energy Switch Guarantee – a commitment by suppliers to ensure a simple, safe and speedy switch.”