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Smart meter in-home display on a table
When you have a smart meter installed you can choose to accept an in-home display (IHD), which monitors and displays your energy use in near real-time, and you can see exactly how much you're using in pounds and pence. Your readings are automatically sent to your energy supplier which means no more estimated bills. But how can they save you money?

HOW DOES A SMART METER SAVE YOU MONEY?

There are two ways to pay for your energy with a smart meter: a meter in credit mode, in which you pay for your energy after you've used it, and a meter in prepay mode in which you pay as you go and top up as and when needed.

 

 
A smart meter in-home display (IHD)
Credit mode
A smart meter in-home display (IHD) in prepay mode
Prepay mode
 

There are many ways a smart meter can benefit you. Here, we're looking at the ways you can use your smart meter in credit mode to save money.

  • Adjusting your energy use
  • More effective budgeting
  • Shopping around for the tariff that's right for you
  • Paying only for what you use (no more estimated bills)
  • Additionally, if you're eligible, applying for grants and benefits that help with your energy costs

SO, DO SMART METERS SAVE YOU MONEY?

Simply having a smart meter installed will not automatically save you money, but the near real-time energy usage data smart meters offer will help you to make various adjustments that can help cut household costs. Find out how smart meter owners have saved between £10-£20 a month.

Smart meters are also building blocks for a more flexible and resilient energy system fit for the 21st century. This could bring consumers, the energy industry and wider economy up to £40 billion of benefits over the next few decades.

HOW TO USE A SMART METER

The smart meter system comprises two main parts: the meter itself, and the accompanying in-home display (IHD). Your display can be placed anywhere you want in the home - so no more climbing into the basement for a meter reading - and is fed information securely by your smart meter to show you in near real-time (or per week or month if you prefer) exactly how much gas and electricity you're using and how much it's costing.
 

 

 
Video still of a smart meter in a cupboard
Video still of a smart meter IHD
 

The smart meter itself communicates the household's energy reading securely to your energy supplier, so they always have up to date information for your bills snd can charge you accordingly. The consumer can choose whether the supplier can receive a meter reading as infrequently as monthly, or as regularly as half hourly.

Watch our video to see how smart meters work in a little more detail.

Watch the video below for an explanation of how to use your in-home display:

Watch this video for an explanation of how to use your in-home display

HOW TO USE YOUR SMART METER TO SAVE MONEY

1. Adjusting your energy use

A big advantage to having a smart meter is the cumulative energy usage data it gives you, you can identify times and situations when you're using more or less. The more information on your own usage, the more in control of it you can be.

For example, you may realise that leaving your computer on standby consumes more energy than you had thought, and get into the habit of turning it off completely when it's not in use. Similarly, you may not be able to work out just how much energy your washing machine consumes, and see the real benefits of switching to eco cycles, or line drying rather than tumble drying washing.

There are all kinds of energy-saving adjustments like this that you can make around the house, and keep track of, thanks to the information the IHD provides, which include:

  • Energy consumption in kWh and pounds and pence. You can choose to see this data as either daily, weekly or monthly cumulative energy consumption.
  • Near real-time data, so you can see what's what at a glance. Meters vary a little depending on the energy supplier, but this may display as a traffic light, figures, or another easy-to-read way.
  • Some smart meters show energy usage information in a 'graph' form, showing usage over time, so you can see the peaks and troughs of use.
  • All IHDs allow you to see what you've spent over time so you can track when spending is higher than usual (the IHD will show historic consumption daily, weekly, monthly, or on a 13 month rolling cycle).

2. Understanding your IHD's capabilities

Learning to read your IHD is an important part of understanding how much energy you use and what this equates to in pounds and pence. National Energy Action (NEA) has a constantly updated IHD user guides page which collates a number of large energy suppliers' guides on reading the different IHD and smart meter models. You can use this to find your energy supplier and their specific model to help you make the most out of your smart meter.

3. More effective budgeting

Knowing what you're spending in near real-time (which you get via your IHD) means fewer surprises when your bill comes through. Having a much clearer picture of how much you've spent at any given time means you can budget more effectively. In fact, some IHDs even allow you to set a daily budget, while others would require you to use the information displayed to manually calculate your daily budget.

4. Shopping around for the tariff that's right for you

Most energy suppliers offer different tariff options, but it can be hard to know which one best suits you. Using the data your smart meter provides will help you find the energy plan that best fits your usage patterns. Like smart meter owner Delyth, who, thanks to having a better understanding of her household energy usage, was able to call up her energy supplier and switch to a cheaper tariff.

5. Paying only for what you actually use, rather than what your supplier thinks you've used (no more estimated bills)

With traditional meters that depend on monthly readings, bills are worked out on estimates. This means they are not always an accurate reflection of what you're using. With smart meters, because usage data is more regularly available, your bills are worked out based on exactly what you use. Only paying for what you use is another way to save.

6. Keep an eye out for any government financial assistance that you may be eligible for

You may be eligible for extra help with schemes like Winter Fuel Payment or Warm Home Discount. See the table below for further information or contact Citizens Advice for further assistance. For prepay customers, you can also find out how to use your smart meter in prepay mode to save you money.

Programme Savings More information
Winter Fuel Payment If you were born on or before 5 October 1954 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills.

You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you are eligible and you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).

Cold Weather Payment £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

You'll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you're getting certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest.

Warm Home Discount You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2020 to 2021 under the Warm Home discount Scheme.

The Warm Home Discount is not paid to you - it's a one-off discount on your electricity bill between September and March.

Pension Credit Find out if you're eligible for Pension Credit and how much you could get.

Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of 2 parts - Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.

Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it's below £173.75 (for single people) or £265.20 (for couples).

Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who have saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension.