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Smart meters bring many benefits, including allowing you to see how much energy you’re are using at a glance.

But the upgrade to prepayment has further benefits, with new ways to top up and manage credit.


Making topping up easier


With traditional prepayment meters, you need to manually top up a card or key at PayPoints. But with smart meters in prepay mode the process is simpler: you can top-up in a number of ways, which could include online, via telephone or text message, or even with a smartphone app - no gas card or electricity key necessary. 

Sarah, one of Britain's energy game changers, users her smart meter in prepay mode to top up in a variety of ways from home.

Helping you reduce your energy usage

Smart meters can help you change your energy behaviours and could reduce the amount of money you spend on energy. The IHD in prepay mode tells you your credit in pounds and pence, and you can see your energy consumption at a glance.

You can use this information to work out which appliances, such as the television or kettle are using the most energy and, if you can, adjust accordingly.

90% of customers with a smart meter in prepay mode have taken at least one step to reduce their energy use such as turning off the lights in empty rooms and changing the way they use household appliances.

Helping you to save and take control of your energy use

Smart meters provide cumulative energy usage data, so that you can identify times and situations when you’re using more or less. The more information you have on your own usage, the more in control of it you can be.

Because of this, almost 80% of smart prepay customers agreed their smart meter helps them feel more in control of their energy use.

See how Elspeth has used her smart meter to make budgeting that little bit easier.

Helping you access your prepayment gas and electricity meters

Research by Citizens Advice has found 16% of people with prepayment meters run out of credit each year. The top two reasons for this are customers forgetting to top-up (47%), and customers not realising that credit was low (32%).

As customers have the ability to monitor energy usage and check credit, smart prepay should help prevent this, and if a household does run out of credit, the online top-up function means they can get energy back on instantly.

Elspeth’s smart meter allows her to top up without struggling to access her prepayment gas and electricity meters –

“When we had our old meters, I was always forgetting to take the key or card to the shop to get them topped up, and we often ran out of credit at inconvenient times – once I was making a pair of curtains on my sewing machine and the electricity ran out. I really needed to get them finished that night and having to go to the shop to top up wasted precious time. Now, our smart meter warns us when we are close to running out of credit, and I can see at a glance how much we have left. Plus, I can top up from home, whenever I need to.”

Check out more ways smart meters are changing the prepay experience below.

Revolutionising the prepay experience


We teamed up with personal finance and consumer expert Sue Hayward, to put together these top tips for prepaying the smart way.

1. Check your credit

Once you've got a smart meter it's easy to see how much credit you've got left by checking the handy in-home display.

If you haven't been upgraded yet, get in the habit of checking how much credit you're using every day. Jot it down on your calendar or pop a chart on the fridge.

2. Think about how you pay

With smart prepay it's easy to top up credit on the go by app, online, by phone, or in or in the shops.

Payments will automatically be added to your account. If you haven't got your smart meter yet, plan ahead so you don't get caught out when you need to top up.

3. Get free energy saving advice

You can find lots of practical and easy ways to save on energy bills from both the Energy Saving Trust and Money Advice Service websites.

4. Ways to save without getting cold

It’s important to keep warm, so save your heat! Don’t stand chatting with the front door open and shut internal doors and turn off the heating in rooms you rarely use. It’s not about being cold, it’s about cutting waste. Check out Phil Spencer's tips for saving energy while staying warm.

5. Keep track of your spending

Your smart meter shows you how much energy you're using in pounds and pence. If you haven’t been upgraded yet, put all your receipts in a pot on the side so you know how much you’re spending and when. 

6. Claim extra cash

Depending on your circumstances you may be due extra help in the form of a Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payment and Warm Home Discount.

Visit the heating and housing benefits section at GOV.UK or contact Citizens Advice for guidance.

7. Shop around

You can still switch suppliers and make savings even if you have a traditional prepayment meter, however if you’re renting, it’s best to let your landlord know. Smart meters work in prepay and credit mode, so you’ll have more flexibility around which deals you choose.

8. Keep your top-up key or card safe

If you don’t have a smart meter yet, make sure everyone in your home knows where your top-up key or card is kept. No good having to hunt around if you need to top-up in a hurry! And you may have to pay for a replacement!

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