SMART USER (Walloon Region)

The aim of the project is to study how smart meters can be a useful tool for vulnerable people and the average electricity consumer. The project focuses on the social mechanisms influencing electricity consumption and their impacts on the rational use of energy and the management of the energy budget of the households concerned.


Pilot project on the placement of smart meters: research conducted by the UMONS Family Sciences Unit to develop the public’s power to act on energy consumption.

In light of profound technological, energy and environmental changes, the Walloon Region has decided that it is necessary to support the entire population in order to face these new challenges. Also, as part of a research project it finances (2017-2020), it was decided that smart meters would be installed in 500 households of the Mons-Borinage region. This research is conducted by the UMONS Family Sciences Unit in collaboration with the ORES distribution network. It focuses on the social mechanisms which influence electricity consumption and their impacts on the rational use of energy and the management of the energy budget of the households concerned. This research specifically focuses on the use of smart meters in electricity market conditions specific to Wallonia.

A smart meter is an electricity meter which, among other things, allows for more precise readings and several readings per hour. Its simple system allows the customer to adapt their power consumption through the distribution network’s portal. In addition, with “smart box” equipment, smart meters also provide local consumption data in real time.

The new meter will provide better information to the public about electricity consumption and will, therefore, help people to consume both better and less, with beneficial effects for the cost of energy and the environment. In addition, the distributor will be able to make better use of its network, since it will be more informed about the power dynamics present on the lines and will, therefore, be able to adapt them to the production of renewable energies or the charging of electric vehicles. This type of meter could also evolve towards a smart grid in the future.

 “Smart User” has two main components. The research component, deals with the collection of information, firstly linked to the consumption of electrical energy, taking into account the installation of the technical device of the meters (and related or proposed complementary tools), and, secondly, associated with the contexts of the users.

The second component, the action component, relates to the implementation of systems to support the target population in the proactive use of functionalities enabled by smart meters (and related or proposed complementary tools) with a view to better managing energy consumption.

The research also aims to provide information which will enable Wallonia to see a paradigm shift linked to the possible deployment of large-scale smart meters so that the region can revise its social energy policy. This project will help to identify the mechanisms and measures linked to the deployment of smart meters, meaning that it can play an active role in fighting against energy poverty and high levels of personal debt.