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FAQs - How to get a smart meter

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.

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.
When can I get a smart meter?

Some suppliers are already fitting smart meters, whilst other suppliers are at an earlier stage of rolling them out.

You can ask your energy supplier directly to see if you can have a smart meter fitted now. They will assess your location and housing type and let you know how soon you can get one.

Read more here.

What training do smart meter installers have?

Smart meter installers are trained to a very high standard for up to two years before they are ready to fit smart meters.

Energy suppliers must also ensure that installers fitting gas meters are on the Gas Safe Register which means they are qualified to work with gas. Smart meter installers receive mentoring and face regular spot checks on the job to ensure safety standards are being met.

Will the person who installs my smart meter be qualified?

Yes. There are strict rules for the installers who come and fit your smart meters. All installers are formally qualified and have to meet specific national standards. These standards are set out in the Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice, which all energy suppliers have to comply with, and are regulated by Ofgem.

I have a prepay meter. Can I still get a smart meter?

Yes. Smart meters will make prepay as easy as pay-as-you-go on your mobile. Some suppliers are already rolling out smart meters to prepay customers and in the future all smart meters will be able to switch between payment modes.

With smart prepay, you should be able to:

  • conveniently see how much credit you have left on your in-home display, without having to manually read or access the meter
  • top up when and where you want to - online, with an app, on the telephone, or via text message
  • top up in person at your local store/outlet, without any need to put a key or card back into a meter. Payments will automatically be added to your account. You will always be able to top up with cash
  • pay the same rates as everyone else - smart meters will remove the need for prepay to be more expensive than other tariffs
I rent. Can I still get a smart meter?

Yes. If you pay your gas and/or electricity bills and they're addressed to you rather than your landlord, you don't need your landlord's permission to get a smart meter. However, we do recommend that you inform them first so that they are aware you’re planning to get one. If your landlord pays the bills, you should ask them to contact your supplier to arrange a smart meter installation for you.

I'm a landlord. Who decides whether to get a smart meter?

Whoever pays the gas and electricity bills can ask for a smart meter to be fitted. If you get the bills addressed to you, then you can ask for a smart meter to be installed in your tenanted property.

Can I still get a smart meter if my home has poor mobile signal?

Smart meters being installed now are currently reliant on mobile phone technology, so speak to your supplier who will be able to advise you on whether they have coverage in your area.

The national communications network for smart meters is currently being built and will not rely on mobile phone coverage. Energy suppliers will be able to start offering smart meters to more and more customers across Great Britain, so we can all have one by 2020.

Can I get a smart meter if I have solar panels?

Yes you can get a smart meter if you have solar panels. Your bills will reflect the energy you are using and that you have generated yourself. Your in-home display will only show how much energy you are buying from your supplier. In the future, your in-home display may also be able to reflect the energy you’re generating yourself, such as from solar panels.

What happens once I've said yes to a smart meter?

Once you’ve booked a time and date, a trained installer will come round to your home at the agreed time to fit your smart meter. They’ll also show you how your in-home display works and offer energy efficiency advice, helping you to better manage your energy consumption.

What happens to my old meter after it has been replaced with a smart meter?

Each energy supplier has their own plan for the safe recycling or disposal of traditional meters. Speak to your supplier about their plan.

How do I prepare for installation?

Your energy supplier will:

  • contact you and arrange a time and date that suits you
  • tell you what to expect, how long it will take and if there's anything special you need to do

You'll need to:

  • be at home to let the installer in
  • make sure the installer can get to your current meter – so, if it's in the cupboard under the stairs, make sure it can be accessed easily
  • ensure any pets are kept out of the way

If it’s going to be a struggle to clear in front of your meters, let your energy supplier know when they book the installation.

Do I have to be at home during the installation?

Yes. Or if you can't be there yourself, a nominated, responsible adult will have to be at home to let the installer in. Most installations will take around two hours.

How long does installation take?

About 2 hours if you have both your gas and electricity with the same supplier and they're fitting both smart meters at the same time. It’s about an hour for each fuel and half an hour for your installer to explain how to use your new in-home display and provide some energy efficiency advice.

Where will new meters be installed?

Typically, your new smart meters go exactly where your traditional gas and electricity meters were. If they need to be fitted elsewhere, your smart meter installer will ask you first.

What kit do I get from my smart meter installation?

Depending on whether you're having one or both replaced, you’ll get a smart electricity meter and a smart gas meter.

You’ll also be offered an in-home display. This may be called lots of things – like an IHD or smart meter display. It’s a handheld digital device that sits in your home. It’s up to you if you want one, but we’d definitely recommend it. It’s the best way to use your smart meter to see what you’re spending and you could use that information to make savings.

How does the in-home display work?

During your smart meter installation, the installer will show you exactly how your in-home display works and set it up for you. The display communicates with your smart meter to show you information about your energy usage. Position it somewhere useful, such as your kitchen or living room, and you can see exactly how much you're using in near real time and what it’s costing at a glance. If you have any problems understanding your in-home display, please contact your energy supplier for more information.

What should I expect during my smart meter installation?

The installation is very similar to a standard meter installation and is carried out by a fully trained installer. However, there are additional steps required to install the in-home display and connect the meter to the network, which makes the overall installation slightly longer.

While the meter is being replaced, your gas and/or electricity will need to be switched off for approximately 30 minutes each (i.e. 60 minutes if you're having both meters replaced) - this is normal practice.

Once the new meter is in place, the installer will show you how to use your new smart metering system. If you've chosen to have an in-home display, this will be explained to you. The installer will also provide energy efficiency advice and do a safety check of all your gas appliances if you have a gas smart meter installed. Once they're done, they'll take away your old meters.

What will the installer do during my smart meter installation?

The installer has to:

  • show you a photo ID card before they start
  • explain what your smart meter system does and how to use it
  • check it’s all working properly
  • give you a handy guide to using it
  • answer any questions you have
  • tell you where you can find more help and information
  • offer energy efficiency advice

Remember, smart meters are provided at no extra cost. You don’t have to pay anything up front and there is no additional charge on your energy bills. Smart meter installers will talk to you about how to use your smart meter, as well as provide advice on important safety issues, such as how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. They are not allowed to sell you anything. They can tell you about other products and services available, but only with your prior consent (and they must stop immediately if asked to).

What should I do if I have a problem getting my smart meter installed?

Your smart meter will be installed by your energy supplier. If you have any problems with your installation, you should contact your supplier directly.