SMART METERS ARE SAFE AND RELIABLE
Security has been at the heart of the whole smart meter rollout right from the start. Smart meters were designed with top cyber security experts, to make sure that security best practice was considered at every stage.
Smart meters are a safe and reliable addition to your home. Here we answer all your frequently asked questions – from how smart meters communicate with suppliers, to how they store and share information.
HOW DOES A SMART METER SEND MY METER READINGS?
Smart meters don’t use the internet – instead, they have their own secure communications system. This bespoke wireless connection shares energy-use data directly with the DCC who authenticate the information and share this directly with your supplier, meaning you get accurate, not estimated, bills.
Smart meters measure the total amount of energy used by your property – it doesn’t know what individual devices are using.
HOW OFTEN WILL MY SMART METER SEND METER READINGS?
Currently you can decide how often your smart meter sends readings – anything from half hourly, to daily or monthly. A new policy on timings of sharing smart meter readings is being introduced. This is designed to encourage suppliers to develop and offer new tariffs and innovations that help consumers lower their bills.
As a result, there will be a change in how often your smart meter sends readings. Domestic customers who are already using a smart meter can remain on their current monthly readings for submitting energy data to their supplier. For new customers, or existing customers who change contract or switch suppliers, you will now default to half-hourly meter readings. This means meter readings will be sent every half-hour, unless you opt out to send it daily.
The smart meter is made up of two parts - the smart meters, which replace your traditional gas and electricity meters, and the in-home display - a portable screen that shows you how much gas and electricity you're using and how much it's costing you.
Both parts of the system work together to ensure you receive accurate information about your energy use. Your smart meter records your electricity use in near-real time and every half hour for gas. The meter then securely shares these readings automatically with your supplier in-home display for you to see.
You have the option to have this information sent to your supplier monthly, daily or even half hourly. The more frequently your supplier receives this data, the better they could advise you on where you can make savings. Smart meters can also help reconnect you more efficiently should your energy supply be cut off unexpectedly.
SO, HOW DO SMART METERS WORK?
Smart meters use a secure smart data network (managed by the DCC) to automatically and wirelessly send usage readings to your energy supplier at least once a month, so you receive accurate, not estimated bills. After your smart meters is installed, domestic customers will be offered an in-home display that shows you exactly how much energy you're using in pounds and pence, in near real time.
Smart meters send and receive information in a similar way to how your mobile phone sends and receives text messages. This wireless connection has been built to be extremely secure and is encrypted to prevent hackers being able to access your information.
CAN MY SMART METER BE HACKED?
Smart meters are secure. Security has been at the heart of the whole smart meter rollout programme from its very inception, and the system has been specifically designed to prevent hacking as far as possible. While no electronic device can be 100% protected from hacking, smart meters are as safe as possible.
There is a security process that each type of smart meters must go through that is led by GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre. The NCSC conducts testing to check that the security functions of the smart meter meets the required standards. If the smart meter doesn’t pass this process, it can’t be installed in homes. You can find out more about the scheme on the NCSC website.
IS MY PERSONAL INFORMATION SAFE WITH A SMART METER?
Your smart meter holds information about how much gas and electricity you've used, and what tariff you've chosen. It doesn't transmit personal information that could identify you, such as your name, address or bank account details
The meter readings collected by your smart meter can only be shared with your energy supplier to allow them to prepare an accurate bill, and they cannot share this further without your permission. Some anonymised information is shared wider to assist with managing demand for energy, but this information cannot be linked back to you as an individual. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have created the Data Access and Privacy Framework that sets out the principals for keeping smart meters secure. The central principle of the framework is that customers have control over who can access their data, except where this is required for supplying meter readings.
All this information about your energy use is strongly protected. The data is transmitted safely, using a dedicated and secure wireless network. You can change your preference for how often you share meter readings by getting in contact with your supplier directly. If you have given them permission to do so, your energy supplier may also use this information to offer you tailored energy efficiency advice and improve the service they provide for you.
IS MY SMART METER LISTENING TO ME?
No. Smart meters don’t have any video or audio recording components within them, and therefore can’t record anything you do at home. Smart meters are usually installed in the same place as your analogue meter- this may be in a cupboard. Inside your home you may be given an in-home display. This device simply shows you the data being read by your smart meter – it has no other way of sharing or recording information.
Smart meters can only measure the total amount of energy used by your household – it can’t know which individual devices you are using, or how much energy devices in your home use.
It seeks nothing but world domination...
It’s only known enemy is the tin foil hat...
It’s a serious risk to the safety of your home!
“Millions of customers already know smart meters are safe.
In fact when the installers come, they check for existing problems you might not know you have, it’s like an energy safety check for your home. So yes, there’s nothing to be scared of.”
CAN MY SMART METER CUT OFF MY POWER?
There is no difference in regulation of energy supply between smart and traditional (analogue) meters. If any changes are made to your energy contract, these would be separate to the process of smart meter installation. If your contract does change for any reason, it may affect your smart meter– for example, changing to a prepay contract. You would be informed about any changes to your contract by your supplier and they will discuss the impact of these.
Energy companies must not disconnect a domestic customer who has not paid their bills unless they have first taken all reasonable steps to recover those charges through a payment plan. There are also a number of circumstances where energy supply must not be switched off . The process of turning off supply to a smart meter may be different as a home visit for this is not necessarily required, although there is likely to be a visit anyway for debt collection reasons.
You might have heard about HCALC Switch (HAN Connected Auxiliary Load Control Switch). This scheme would be on an opt-in basis, and users would need to be fully informed before opting in. If you choose not to opt-in, then there will be no difference to your service.
If you experience temporary disconnection because of a power cut, dial 105, the free power cut line. If your energy is cut off remotely, you may be able to access compensation from your network operator under the Guaranteed Standards.
Smart meters are safe, easy to use and could help you save money. Ready to get yours? Simply enter your energy supplier’s name below and we’ll get you started: