Smart meters explained
Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters being installed by energy suppliers in every home in Britain. Smart meters come with an in-home display screen that show you exactly how much energy you are 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.
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).
When your meter is installed you will also be given an in-home display.
What your smart meter in-home display shows you
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 from a smart meter 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.
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 websites
- if your supplier can use your meter readings for sales and marketing purposes.
Getting 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.