SMART METERS AND RENTING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you’re renting a property and pay the bills for the gas or electricity, you can choose to have a smart meter installed. But it is best to speak to your landlord before requesting one. Read on to find out how.
- What is a smart meter?
- Benefit of smart meters for renters, tenants and landlords
- Smart meters for renters
- Can I get a smart meter if I rent?
- My landlord pays the energy bills; can I get a smart meter?
- Do I need the landlord's permission to install a smart meter?
- How much will a smart meter cost to install?
- Smart meters for landlords
- I’m A Landlord, Should I Get A Smart Meter For My Rental Property?
- Can I Install a Smart Meter If My Tenants Don’t Want One?
- Christopher’s Experience
- FAQ about smart meters in rental properties
WHAT IS A SMART METER?
A smart meter is the next generation of a gas and electricity meter. With a smart meter, you can wave goodbye to estimated billing. The in-home display shows a digital meter reading read by the smart meter, and uses a secure smart data network (managed by the DCC). It automatically and wirelessly sends the readings to your energy supplier at least once a month, so you receive accurate, not estimated, bills.
Smart meters also come with an in-home display screen that shows you how much energy you're using in pounds and pence, in near-real time.
The smart meter system 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 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.
BENEFITS FOR RENTERS AND TENANTS - WHY SHOULD I GET A SMART METER?
A smart meter could help you save money. Smart meters come with an in-home display that shows how much energy is being used in near-real time. You can see what you're spending in pounds and pence, making splitting household bills between tenants much simpler. You also don’t need to worry about submitting an end of tenancy meter reading on the day you move out – after you’ve informed your supplier of your move out date, your smart meter can take the final reading for you automatically.
Having a smart meter installed can be good for the environment. By having your smart meter installed, you’re helping make our energy system smarter. Smart meters will help us cut down on energy waste by forecasting demand more efficiently. In fact, the government predicts that the smart meter rollout could eventually save £650m of energy wasted within the system. The system will be able to draw on more local and renewable sources of energy too.
Smart meters are set up to work for both prepay and credit customers. So even if you use a gas card or electricity key meter you can still have a smart meter installed. In fact, prepay smart meters let you top up online – meaning no more last-minute trips to the shop to top up!
My name is Nicola, I live in South West London with my five-year-old daughter in a two-bedroom flat.
I got my smart meter installed because I was worried that my energy bills were really high. Speaking to friends, they said there's weren’t as high and they live in bigger properties than me. So, spoke to my energy provider and they suggested getting a smart meter.
I’ve definitely changed the way I used my energy since I've had my smart meter installed. It allows me, yeah, just to budget more I can see sort of what I've spent per day, so I can sort of know if I've got rein it in a little bit more. Because my smart meter will change colour, so it will go red when I'm using a lot of electricity or gas and green when it's minimal.
Being a single parent and having my smart meter really allows me to watch what I'm spending, and therefore, I don't get that shock bill at the end of the month. I’d definitely recommend getting a smart meter to friends and family. It really, really helped me, and I think it would help other people as well.
SMART METERS FOR RENTERS
Can I get a smart meter if I rent?
If you pay the bills for the gas or electricity in your rented home, you can choose to have a smart meter installed. Many homes 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.
Do I need the landlord’s permission to install a smart meter?
If you pay the bills for the gas or electricity in your rented home, you can choose to have a smart meter installed.
We recommend you tell your landlord before you get one. There might be rules in your contract about how energy is supplied, including the type of meter that can be installed. If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to change the meter at your home, Ofgem says your landlord or letting agency shouldn’t unreasonably prevent you from getting a smart meter. Our template letter can help you let your landlord know why you’d like to get a smart meter – download it now:
My landlord pays the energy bills; can I get a smart meter?
If your landlord pays the energy bills for your home, it’s their decision on whether or not to install a smart meter – But it is worth asking. In our research, we found 72% of landlords would agree to get a smart meter installed, and a quarter had installed one themselves in a rental property*.
Use our template letter to tell your landlord you’re interested in getting a smart meter for your property.
It could help to tell your landlord about why you’d like to install a smart meter – including that the smart meter could help future tenants have better control over their energy bills. We’ve worked with industry leaders to create this template letter for landlords. Download it now.
SMART METERS FOR LANDLORDS
I’m a landlord, should I get a smart meter for my rental property?
Smart meters for rental properties are more popular than ever. Our research found 72% of landlords would agree to get a smart meter installed, and a quarter have installed one themselves*. If your tenants pay the bills at your rental property, and they request a smart meter be installed, Ofgem says you shouldn’t stop them installing one without reason. If you’d rather your tenants not install a smart meter, you have the option to manage the energy bill payment yourself and include it in monthly rental charges.
More and more tenants are interested in the energy efficiency ratings of rental properties. While a smart meter won’t change your energy rating, it’s a good way to help tenants take control of their energy bills. It will also let new tenants know that you have considered the environmental impact of your property.
Can I install a smart meter if my tenants don’t want one?
The bill payer at the property ultimately makes the decision on whether or not to get a smart meter installed. If you’d like to install a smart meter but your tenants aren’t keen, you have the option to manage the energy bill payment yourself and include it in monthly rental charges. This would allow you to make the change, but you would need to explore this change to the rental contract in more detail yourself.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your tenants about changes you’d like to make to the property. If your tenants would rather submit meter readings manually, smart meters can also work in a traditional mode - so you can ask your supplier to disable the smart functions of the meter. If you were to opt for this, the meter would operate in the same way as a traditional meter and will not transmit any data to your supplier. However, this would include the loss of your smart meter’s benefits including accurate bills through automated meter readings.
Disabling your smart meter would be a step backward into a world of estimated bills, but the choice is there.
* ‘The Behavioural Architects for Smart Energy GB, (March 2021), Landlord and letting agent report’.
Christopher rents a home in Bristol with his wife and 2 young children. After having a smart meter installed, he found that not only is it a great way to get on top of his energy bills, but also a perfect learning tool to teach his kids to be more aware of their usage.
“During the first lockdown of 2020, my family and I were looking into ways of getting our household bills down and decided one way would be to switch suppliers and try and get a lower rate. After finding a great new deal, we realised we would have to have a smart meter smart installed as part of it. As we are renting, I wanted to double check with our landlord that was okay first. As the installation was available at no extra cost my landlord was absolutely fine with it so I contacted my energy supplier and booked an appointment.
I really love my smart meter. The main advantage to me as the bill-payer is that I no longer have to worry about estimated bills. Instead of the old system, which relied on me finding time to read my meters or pay an estimated amount, my smart meter automatically sends off the exact amount we have used every month. This means I no longer have to worry about a surprise bill showing up on my doorstep and I can relax in the knowledge my bills are accurate and paid. Using the in-home display that came with the smart meter to track our energy usage, my family and I have also managed to get to the point where our bills are pretty much identical every month and that really makes budgeting a lot simpler.
Overall, getting a smart meter has been great for my family. It’s enabled us to plan for our energy expenditure and remove any concerns about a big surprise bill ruining our monthly budget. It’s also been a great way to help my kids understand our energy use and how energy and the environment are connected. As a renter, I was also pleased at how simple and easy it was for us to have a smart meter installed – beyond a courtesy call to our landlord, it was as simple as booking in a date with our supplier. I’d definitely recommend everyone gets one.”
FAQS ABOUT SMART METERS IN RENTAL PROPERTIES
Whose responsibility is it to book the smart meter installation?
There’s a lot of confusion over whose responsibility it is to organise smart meter installation – Our research found 40% of landlords and 38% of letting agents believe it is the landlord’s responsibility to install a meter, whereas 39% of landlords and 51% of letting agents believe it is the renter’s responsibility*. It’s actually up to the person who pays the energy bills for the property to organise smart meter installation with their energy supplier.
I’ve heard I might not be able to get a smart meter as I live in a block of flats – is that true?
Many homes 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. Contact your supplier to find out if a smart meter is suitable for your property.
I’m worried about how my smart meter sends information. Will this affect my WiFi?
Smart meters have been specifically designed not to interfere with other wireless products in your home, and there are protections in place to prevent interference. The data is transmitted safely, using a dedicated and secure wireless network that does not use your home WiFi connection.
I’m worried about how my information will be used. Are there any issues with security?
Your in-home display is paired with your smart meter by your installer, so it only shows information from your smart meter.
Personal information such as your name, address and bank details are not stored on your smart meter. The meter simply records your gas and/or electricity readings in the same way as your current meter does. The meter readings can only be shared with your energy supplier and they cannot share this without your permission. The data is transmitted safely, using a dedicated and secure wireless network. All this information about your energy use is strongly protected under GDPR guidance.
Depending on how often you've agreed to share it with your supplier, your smart meter will send half hourly, daily or monthly meter readings. You can change your preference for how often you share this information at any point 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 will improve the service they provide for you.
Find out more about how energy suppliers are keeping the smart meter rollout safe and secure.
I’ve heard different suppliers install different IHDs. How do I know which I’ll get?
All in-home displays have been designed to be simple and easy to use, so whichever you get you’ll find simple to use. Whilst all in-home displays will provide the same information, they won’t all look the same as energy suppliers provide their own. Some in-home displays offer additional information, but all will give you the detail of your energy usage in pounds, pence and kWh. You can ask your supplier what type of IHD they’ll provide when booking your installation.
What happens when I move out of my rented home?
After you move out, you leave your IHD in the property, as it will be connected to that property’s smart meter – you can always request that your supplier install a smart meter in your next property if there isn’t one installed there.
I might switch supplier in future. Can I still get a smart meter installed?
You don’t have to get a new smart meter when you switch energy supplier. If you have a SMETS2 meter installed, you will be able to switch energy suppliers without any interruption to your energy readings, bill payments or gas and electricity supply. Your supplier can advise which meter type they install.