Smart meters explained
A smart meter is the next generation of a gas and electricity meter. They're being installed by energy suppliers in every home in England, Scotland, and Wales. Smart meters 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 and will bring an end to estimated bills.
What is a smart meter and how do they work?
Smart meters measure how much gas and electricity you’re using, as well as what it’s costing you, and display this in on a handy in-home display.
With a smart meter, you can wave goodbye to complicated meter readings. The smart meter shows a digital meter reading and automatically sends the reading to your energy supplier at least once a month, so you will receive accurate, not estimated, bills.
How can I get a smart meter?
Everyone will be offered the opportunity to upgrade to a smart meter by their energy supplier.
Smart meters will be provided and fitted by your energy supplier, along with a handheld in-home display, at no extra cost.
What can I expect to receive?
A smart meter comes in two 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.
What does my smart meter in-home display show me?
On an in-home display, you’ll be able to read:
- 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 emergency credit you have
- your debt balance (if you have one)
- if your credit’s getting low.
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. Smart meters don't use the internet to send or receive data and you don't need an internet connection for it to work.
There are strict new regulations and codes of practice to keep smart meter data private, secure and safe.
What data is taken and how is it used?
Smart meters safely store data about what energy you’ve used, but not personal data about you. Your energy use is displayed on an in-home display for you to see and with your permission is also shared with your energy supplier, who is sent only the 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.
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.
Can I get a smart meter for free?
There is no extra cost for a smart meter or 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.
What is the national smart meter rollout?
By the end of 2020, around 53 million smart meters will be fitted in over 30 million premises (households and businesses) across Wales, Scotland and England. The programme is already underway. There are already 7.7 million smart meters installed in homes and microbusinesses 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.