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FAQs - The national smart meter rollout

Is everyone in Great Britain getting a smart meter?

Everyone in England, Wales and Scotland is entitled to a smart meter if they want one and every energy supplier has to offer its customers a smart meter by 2020.

How is the smart meter rollout making homes safer?

The smart meter rollout is the first time there has been a nationwide programme checking the safety of the gas and electricity in all our homes.

In 2017 and 2018 combined, over 635,000 unsafe situations related to smart meters have been identified during free visual safety checks which form part of the installation visit, such as dangerous wiring and fuse boxes or even faulty boilers. Many of these faults would not have been picked up if not for smart meter installers.

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. More than 12 million smart meters have now been installed. 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.

Why is the smart meter rollout happening?

Most of the gas and electricity meters in our homes were designed decades ago. Right now, most of us have little idea how much energy we're using in our homes, where it's being used or what it's costing us. A third of us don't understand our energy bills.

By 2020, every home in Great Britain will have the chance to use smart meter technology to see exactly how much energy they're using, and what it's costing.

In addition to these immediate benefits, the rollout will lay the foundation for the upgrade our energy infrastructure urgently needs. Without smart meters we would lack a truly smart energy network able to cope with, and balance, increased demand for energy while keeping the lights on across Great Britain.

Are smart meters compulsory?

Smart meters are not compulsory; it's entirely your choice. The government requires energy suppliers to offer smart meters to all homes and small businesses across Great Britain by 2020, but whether you accept them is completely up to you. More than four in five people who have a smart meter say they would recommend one.

How much will the smart meter rollout cost Great Britain?

Smart meters are an essential upgrade to an outdated system. The savings of nearly £17 billion will far outweigh the investment of almost £11 billion - meaning an overall saving of nearly        £6 billion between now and 2030.

What is the smart grid and why do we need it?

Smart meters help enable the smart grid, which is a whole new way of running our energy networks. It’s a bit like an internet for gas and electricity and will make us as a nation more secure and help us manage our energy usage.

The energy network we have now was designed for a time when our gas and electricity needs were much simpler. Now, we’re using more energy and have to find ways to reduce our carbon emissions. We need to integrate new technologies, like electric cars and solar and wind energy.

The smart grid has the potential to help us solve lots of Britain’s energy problems. It will:

  • mean we can better match supply and demand
  • help us be more efficient, greener and waste less energy
  • help energy be more secure and reliable
  • mean unexpected power outages can be tackled faster
  • mean we can plan for the number of power stations we'll need in future with greater accuracy

The smart grid will be much better at integrating green technologies, from electric cars to home rooftop solar panels and heat pumps. In particular, we need the smart grid to help us get the most from variable power sources like wind and solar. For example, smart meters should open the door to flexible pricing that means we can use solar and wind energy when it's plentiful.

Have other countries already got smart meters?

The United States, Canada, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands are among the countries already benefiting from smart meters and most other EU countries are currently rolling them out.