SMART METERS EXPLAINED
Smart meters are being installed by energy suppliers. Every home in England, Scotland and Wales will be offered the opportunity to upgrade to a smart meter by their energy supplier before the end of the rollout. These will replace the traditional meters in your home.
WHAT IS A SMART METER?A smart meter is the next generation of a gas and electricity meter. Smart meters measure how much gas and electricity you’re using, as well as what it’s costing you and display this on a handy in-home display.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
With a smart meter you can wave goodbye to estimated billing. The smart meter shows a digital meter reading and uses a secure smart data network (managed by the DCC) to automatically and wirelessly send the readings to your energy supplier at least once a month, so you will receive accurate, not estimated bills.
Smart meters also come with an in-home display screen that shows you exactly how much energy you're using in pounds and pence, in near real time.
HOW CAN I GET A SMART METER?
Many homes in Britain can upgrade to a smart meter right now, but where you live, the type of home you live in and the age and type of your existing meter may mean that your energy supplier will take a little longer to get yours to you.
Your supplier will be in touch when your smart meter is ready to be installed. If you would like to enquire about getting one now, please contact your energy supplier here.
Smart meters and the in-home display will be provided and fitted by your energy supplier. If your supplier is using third party installers, your energy supplier will let you know who they are and when they’re coming.
WHY SHOULD I GET A SMART METER?
They could help you save money.
Smart meters come with an in-home display which shows how much energy is being used in near real time. You can see what you're spending in pounds and pence, which may encourage you to reduce your energy consumption.
According to Delta-ee, an energy research company, making small steps in your home could save customers over £50, or £100+ in households with medium to high energy consumption.
You’ll be helping us reduce our carbon footprint as a nation.
From the moment your smart meter is installed, you are helping to reduce our carbon emissions as a nation - even without making changes at home to use less energy.
This is because smart meters are the foundation to a smarter energy system. With the information they offer we can better integrate renewable power, such as wind, solar and hydro power, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. By decarbonising our energy system, we will dramatically reduce our nation’s carbon footprint on the whole.
DO I NEED TO GET A NEW SMART METER EVERY TIME I SWITCH SUPPLIERS?
No, you don’t have to get a new smart meter when you switch energy supplier. With one of the SMETS2 meters, you should be able to switch energy suppliers without any interruption to your energy readings, bill payments or gas and electricity supply.
If you have a SMETS1 meter you may need to send in your meter readings in order to get an accurate bill following a switch (just as you would with traditional meters). But this is a temporary situation and does not affect your ability to switch your energy supplier – so you can go ahead and change your gas or electricity supplier.
CAN I GET A SMART METER FOR FREE?There is no extra cost for the in-home display. You won't have an extra charge on your bill because you choose to have a smart meter. The costs will be spread across everyone's bills, just like the cost of running and maintaining today's traditional meters are.
WHAT DOES A SMART METER LOOK LIKE?A smart meter comes in two main parts and will be installed by your energy supplier(s). Your traditional gas and electric meters will be replaced with smart meters which send your meter readings to your energy supplier(s).
You will also receive an in-home display which will show you how much energy you're using in pounds and pence.
ON AN IN-HOME DISPLAY YOU'LL BE ABLE TO READ:
- how much energy was used in the last hour, week and month (and what it cost)
- at a glance, whether your electricity use is high, medium or low
- updates in near real time for electricity and every half hour for gas
IF YOU HAVE A PRE-PAY METER:
Smart meters are set up to work for both pre-pay and credit customers, so that means prepay needn't be any more expensive.
In fact, pre-pay customers will be able to access time-of-use tariffs, which can help you save money if you are able to use less energy during periods of high demand (known as peak periods) and more energy during periods of low demand (known as off peak periods).
IF YOU HAVE A PRE-PAY METER YOUR IHD WILL SHOW YOU:
- how much credit you have left
- how much emergency credit you have (and when it has been activated)
- your debt balance (if you have one)
- if your credit’s getting low
The video below shows how Elspeth is using her smart meter to reduce her energy bills:
IS MY DATA SAFE?
The data your smart meter captures about your energy usage is strongly protected by law. You have control over it, including the right to decide:
- how often your smart meter sends data to your energy supplier (monthly is minimum, daily or half-hourly are optional)
- whether to share data with other organisations, like price comparison websites
- if your supplier can use your meter readings for sales and marketing purposes
Smart meters were designed in consultation with the UK's top security experts, and can only measure the amount of energy you use. Personal details like your name, address and bank account details are not stored on, or transmitted by, your smart meter.
If you have other concerns about smart meters, take a look at our mythbusting smart meter problems article for the facts.
IS THE INSTALLATION SAFE?
- they comply with UK and EU safety standards, and all smart meters meet the same safety standards, regardless of your energy supplier
- they are fitted by trained installers who have passed formal qualifications which are set out in the Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice
- during the installation, the trained installer will perform visual safety checks to identify signs of risk in your gas appliances, and in some instances have identified problems with appliances in customers’ homes
You may also be interested in…
- Energy saving tips - Want to take control of your usage but not sure where to start? Check out our energy saving tips.
- The Missing Piece in climate conversations - we could achieve 11% of our carbon target if every UK household took energy efficiency measures now.
- The installation process – once you’ve decided to request your smart meter, you’ll need to know how the installation works with your supplier.