FAQs-How do smart meters work?
- What is a smart meter?
Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace the traditional meters, including prepay key meters, most of us currently have ticking away under the stairs, or outside our homes. Smart meters record your energy use in the same way as a traditional meter but then send the readings automatically to your energy supplier at regular intervals, allowing them to prepare an accurate bill.
- How do smart meters work?
Your smart meter measures how much gas and electricity you use and securely shares this directly with your energy supplier at least once a month and your portable in-home display in near real time. You won't have to take any meter readings manually - your smart meter will send automatic readings to your energy supplier via the secure smart data network which is solely for smart meters. This works in a similar way as other wireless systems but does not use the internet.
- Do I need one smart meter for gas and another for electricity?
Yes, if you're a dual-fuel customer, both meters will need to be replaced. Your supplier will aim to install both meters on the same visit to make things as easy as possible. You will only need one in-home display to view both your gas and electricity usage. If your gas and electricity accounts are with different suppliers, you will have two separate smart meter installations - one from each of your suppliers.
If your home’s gas and electricity are supplied by different suppliers, we suggest having your electric smart meter installed before your gas smart meter. We have a lot more information about smart meters and the installation process on our installation process page.
- Do I need a broadband connection in my home to have a smart meter?
No. Smart meters use an entirely separate, bespoke wireless system. You don't need Wi-Fi in your home for it to work and it won't use your Wi-Fi if you have it. Your smart meter and in-home display communicate via a secure national network which is solely for smart meters. This works in the same way as other wireless systems like car remote keys or TVs, using radio waves.
- Can I still get a smart meter if my home has poor mobile signal?
If you live in an area with poor mobile telephone reception you can either request a first generation meter that uses this network, but may experience difficulties sending readings to your supplier automatically. Alternatively, you can contact your energy supplier and insist that they install a second generation meter, known as SMETS2. A SMETS2 meter is not reliant upon the mobile phone network and by the end of the rollout this network will have coverage of 99.25% of Great Britain.
- Can I get a smart meter if my home has solar panels?
Yes you can get a smart meter if you have solar panels. Your bills 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.
- I generate my own electricity. Will the in-home display show the electricity I generate?
Your bills reflect the energy you're using and that you've generated yourself. Your in-home display will show you how much energy you are buying from your supplier and in the future, may also be able to reflect the energy you're generating yourself, such as from solar panels.
Sources of Help
Smart Energy GB is the consumer engagement campaign for the smart meter rollout. We want to help everyone understand smart meters and the benefits they bring to households and the environment.
We're not an energy supplier and we don't make or fit smart meters, and we’re not the technical authority of the smart meter rollout.
We also don’t have any regulatory authority so we’re unable to intervene in any individual customer's dialogue with their energy supplier about the service they have received.
Who should I contact if I need help?
If you have an issue with booking your smart meter installation, your installation experience or an issue with your smart meter please contact your energy supplier.
Don't know your energy supplier? For your gas supplier, visit Find My Supplier or call 0870 608 1524. For electricity, visit uSwitch for the number to call to find your energy supplier in your region.
(Charges may apply.)
If you believe that your energy supplier has not met its obligations, Citizens Advice may be able to assist you. Government has given a formal role to Citizens Advice to monitor and advise it on issues relating to customer experiences and energy supplier service. They can be contacted via their website, here or via the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
If you’d like to find out more about the roles and responsibilities of the organisations involved with the smart meter rollout, including the Data Communications Company (DCC) which is responsible for establishing and managing the new smart meter network, see our website, here
You can read about the benefits that smart meters offer you and Britain here, and if you want to contact us about our work or campaigns please click here