As national restrictions continue, energy suppliers may offer their customers the opportunity to upgrade to smart meters. Where installations are going ahead, energy suppliers are implementing socially distant ways of installing smart meters and safety procedures to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. Eligibility may vary.Find out more
SMART METER BENEFITS FOR PREPAY CUSTOMERS
Smart meters are here for prepay customers, and according to our research nearly 9 in 10 prepay customers would recommend them thanks to the many benefits they provide.
Smart meters are available for prepay customers.
They come with handy in-home displays which clearly show you how much credit you've got left.
Then simply top up, however you like. You can do this online... by phone, text, or via the app. This may vary depending on your supplier. If you prefer, you can still top up in person at your local shop and credit will be added to your account automatically, without using a key. Budgeting is easier too, because you'll be able to see in near-real time just how much you're spending on your energy, in pounds and pence.
And that'll help you choose the right supplier and tariff that works for you.
Of course, smart meters are set up to work for both prepay and credit customers. If you'd prefer to switch between credit and prepay, your supplier can make this change without you needing a whole new meter.
How very smart indeed.
SMART METERS FOR PREPAY CUSTOMERS
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.
HOW CAN A SMART METER BENEFIT PREPAY CUSTOMERS?
Making topping up easier
Meet Britain's energy game changers
"With an old prepay meter it can be 9:00 at night and you have to shoot out to top up. With a small child, that's not ideal. Being able to do it from home is brilliant."
A prepay smart meter means you can now top up in a variety of ways from home.
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
My name is Elspeth Kerr. I live in a three bedroom house with my husband, my two daughters, who are grown up, and my dog, my cat, my rabbit.
We had a prepay meter and really wanted to get a smart meter so it was about a year and a half ago that we got one. We got a smart meter installed because we wanted to have more control over our spending.
The best thing about having a smart meter installed is that we've got a display unit in a prominent place where we can see in pounds and pence quite easily how much is left on it and what the usage is. Also, it's in the living room where when it starts to beep, to let us know that it's low and we need to top it up. It's not hidden in a cupboard somewhere and we know to do it.
Before we had a prepayment meter, before we had a smart meter, we had to physically go and have a look in the cupboard or down really low, where it was really awkward to see how much was left on it. So it was far handier having it out in the open where we know when to top it up.
A good thing about having the smart meter is I can see how much energy is being used at any given time. And we've realised that the shower actually uses a lot of energy. So I have said to my daughter, that showers need to be shorter to try and conserve the energy. Whenever we see it going into the amber or the red we look about and see what's on to see if things can get switched off so that we know what is running at any given time.
My favourite features of the in-home display are that I can see how much is being used at any a given time, and see how much has been used that day in pounds and pence. Also, I don’t have to leave the house to top it up. I just go online on my phone and top it up through that, really easily. So having a smart meter has actually, has made it easier for us to keep the cost down and be consistent with how much or how little we're using.
Yeah I would definitely recommend having a smart meter for anybody especially on prepayment because it's so easy to top up online without having to go to the shop or bend down to a gas meter You know, when it's that easy, why wouldn't you?
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.
ALREADY HAVE A SMART METER IN PREPAY MODE? HERE ARE OUR TOP MONEY SAVING TIPS
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.
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.
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!
You may also be interested in...
- How smart meters are helping people save - find out how others across Great Britain are saving money and energy with their smart meters.
- Energy saving tips in the kitchen with Ainsley Harriott - we teamed up with Ainsley to show how you can be more energy efficient in the kitchen.
- How smart meters could transform health and social care - as well as helping us save at home and upgrade our nation's energy system, smart meters also have the potential to help elderly and vulnerable people.