Smart Meter Impact Assessment Switzerland

Working group

Michael Baeriswyl, Thorsten Staake


The ever-increasing hunger for energy requires excessive resource consumption and causes severe environmental damage. Today, households consume 20 to 30 percent of the energy generated worldwide (EIA, 2009). Both, the technology (the house or appliances we buy) and the behavior (the way we use our appliances) have a strong influence on the amount of energy consumed at home and offer a considerable potential for energy conservation. Therefore, it is not sufficient to rely on more energy-efficient technologies to promote energy conservation – it also requires behavioral changes. By focusing on behavioral changes, residential energy consumption could be reduced by 20 percent in U.S. (Dietz et al., 2009). The difficulty, however, is to motivate customers to change their behavior.

A majority of European countries started to rollout smart meters, a new generation of energy meters that provide customers with real-time feedback on their energy consumption. Smart meters are expected to fundamentally change the amount and timing of customers’ energy consumption in order to foster energy savings and reduce peak demand. However, a smart meter rollout causes additional costs (e.g., new meters need to be installed and new information and communication technologies need to be deployed).

We conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a nationwide smart meter rollout for the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. The study intends to define and analyze different rollout scenarios in terms of economic, social, environmental impacts. Furthermore, we assess the impacts of smart meters for the next 20 years and consider  a progressive development towards a future smart grid (BFE, 2010).


Bundesamt für Energie. (2010). Positionspapier zu “Smart Grits”. Bern.

Dietz, T., Gardner, G. T., Gilligan, J., Stern, P. C., & Vandenbergh, M. P. (2009). Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce US carbon emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(44), 18452-18456.

EIA. 2009. Annual Energy Review 2009, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Washington, USA.