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What is a smart meter?


Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters being rolled out across Great Britain. They show you how much energy you are using in pounds and pence, in near real time and bring an end to estimated bills.

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What is a smart meter?

How does a smart meter work?


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.

They also send automatic meter readings to your energy supplier at least once a month, so you will receive accurate, not estimated, bills.


The smart meter equipment


Your energy supplier(s) will install:

  • A smart electricity meter
  • A smart gas meter (unless you are not on the gas mains)

And when your meter is installed you will also be given an in-home display.

Getting your smart meter installed

How do smart meters work?
Understand how your smart meter works

What the in-home display shows you


On an in-home display, you’ll be able to clearly see:

  • how much energy you’re using in near real time
  • how much energy was used in the last hour, week, and month (and what it cost)
  • 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 prepay meter, it will also show:

  • how much credit you have left
  • how much you have on your emergency credit balance
  • your debt balance (if you have one)
  • if your credit’s getting low.

Your in-home display
Reading and understanding an in-home display

Smart meters and the wireless system


Inside your home, smart meters use their own secure, wireless network using radio waves, just like mobile phones or TVs do. (It won’t use your wifi and you don’t need wifi in your home for it to work).

Your smart meters will link to a similar wireless network outside your home. This network is run by the new Data and Communications Company, which is overseen by the energy regulator Ofgem.

There are strict new regulations and codes of practice to keep smart meter data private and secure.


What data is taken and how is it used?


Smart meters store data about what energy you’ve used, but not personal data about you. Your energy use is displayed on a screen for you to see and with your permission is also shared with your energy supplier, who is sent meter readings.

Energy network operators, can also see this data, but only anonymously. This is so they can get a better understanding of energy usage, deal with power outages more efficiently and plan better for Britain’s energy needs.

Britain's smart future


You’re always protected and in control


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 sites
  • if your supplier can use your meter readings for sales and marketing purposes

Essential documents



How can I get a smart meter?

We’re all entitled to a smart meter and your energy supplier will contact you between now and 2020 to arrange your installation at no extra cost.

Some of us will have to wait longer than others to get our meter, but you can ask your energy supplier directly to see if you can have yours fitted now. How soon you can get your meter depends on your energy supplier, where you live and what kind of home you live in.

There are three straightforward steps to getting a smart meter installed:

  1. Ask your supplier - we'll all be offered a smart meter by 2020. Contact yours directly to see if you can get a smart meter fitted now.
  2. You fix a time and day for your supplier to come and install your smart meter (either you, or if you can't be there yourself, a nominated, responsible adult will need to be present during installation).
  3. Your supplier fits the meter and shows you how to use the in-home display.


What is the national smart meter rollout?

By the end of 2020, around 53 million smart meters will be fitted in more than 30 million premises (households and businesses) across Wales, Scotland and England. The programme is already underway. We're in the first stages and nearly five million smart meters have already been installed across Great Britain. This is the biggest national infrastructure project in our lifetimes and it will enable a more energy efficient system for Great Britain.

Watch this short film to find out more about the national smart meter rollout.