The government has pushed back the deadline for rollout of smart energy meters to 2024.
The original deadline was 2020, but energy providers said they would not be able to meet it as the technology wasn’t ready.
Groups such as Which? and Citizens Advice had warned previously that the deadline would be missed.
Customers are not obliged to have a smart meter fitted, but energy firms must have offered them to all UK households by the end of the new deadline.
The selling point of smart meters was that readings would be automatic, with easier and more accurate billing.
However, a significant portion of customers have found the meters don’t work, particularly in cases where they switch supplier.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the government’s decision to extend the deadline was “a common-sense move” that “recognises reality”.
“This new deadline gives suppliers time to fix ongoing technical problems and make sure customer service isn’t sidelined as the rollout continues,” she said. “We’ve seen some energy companies use aggressive techniques to try to persuade people to have smart meters fitted as soon as possible to meet the existing timeline.
“It’s also apparent that the cost of the rollout is escalating, and the public are picking up the tab through their energy bills. People will still benefit in the long run, but today’s cost-benefit analysis shows focusing on speed hasn’t worked.
“We are pleased the government is extending the deadline to ensure the benefits for consumers are delivered.”
The government, for its part, said the new regime does not constitute a let-off for energy providers.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the energy trade body Energy UK, said: “Smart meters are essential if we are to deliver the flexible energy system that will help us to achieve our net-zero target by 2050, so we welcome greater clarity on the post-2020 policy landscape.
“Suppliers have been working tirelessly to meet the 2020 deadline and offer all households a smart meter so that as many customers as possible can benefit by saving energy and money - as millions of smart meter owners have already reported.
“The energy sector is committed to working with the government and other partners to complete the rollout so we will now consider the proposals in detail to ensure they are deliverable and do not place unreasonable costs on consumers.”